Through the Lens of Winning

Stu Perlmeter

As a provider of Win-Loss Analysis, we interact with quite a few companies about their opportunity set.

Depending on who you speak with, they may refer to it as their dealflow, win-rate, sales disposition, or a host of other descriptors. For B2B companies, it’s all about the same thing. The operative question is:

Of the deals we had a real shot at – those bottom of funnel sales opportunities that actually closed – how many did we win, how many did we lose to a competitor, and, if a loss, what could we have done differently?

Of course, many deals never close at all. The prospect company was just considering a new product or solution, but ultimately that decision was put off, for now.

The questions we hear companies asking most often key on the losses, which maps to their pain – both the pain of losing, and the pain of not knowing why.

Not every opportunity holds this highly charged emotional power, to be sure, but certain ones do — those that the sellers were counting on that “should have been” theirs that went to a head-to-head competitor with a similar offering.

“Why did we lose that deal?” What happened in the final decision process that influenced the buying organization to choose another vendor/provider? Usually, the ones that are most haunting are those where the sales process has apparently gone smoothly, and the key decision maker has been providing strong assurances through the process – possibly even going into the final decision meeting.

The uncomfortable call

The moment when you get the news that the prospect “went a different direction but really appreciates your effort”, is chilling. Swallow hard. You don’t know what to say.

What matters in that moment is all about dealing with the pain of losing. Often, there is an immediate, reflexive call to the prospect to essentially ask, “What happened?” What is learned in that spurious effort is unfortunately minimal; it is unlikely that anything useful or actionable will come of that conversation.

Calls like this make the ‘failed’ prospect uncomfortable and they are more apt to provide a story designed to help the caller feel better and to get off the phone as quickly as possible. Adding insult to injury, you might say. But it’s a very human thing to do.

Looking through the right lens

What makes more sense is to zoom out and look at the big picture of your dealflow. At the highest level, what matters is winning.  It’s unattainable to win every deal. But you can look at the entire opportunity set over time and ask the larger question: “How can we win more deals that are truly well qualified for us?”

In that light, you can be more systematic about optimizing your new business outcomes. Looking at the wins as well as the losses. Examining what the win and loss drivers really are for you and then asking for each opportunity, “Is this truly a fit for us?”

Only in mining extensive voice-of-customer insights can you get to that place of effectively focusing on the idiom of winning. Let us know your thoughts and let’s talk about how we might help.

About the Author

Stu Perlmeter

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Stu brings 30 years of marketing and research experience to 1st Resource, which he founded in 1996. Stu’s primary expertise is in understanding the market insights that tie to success formulas for companies seeking to grow their business in strategic ways.