The Sales Enablement Guide to Win/Loss Analysis, Part 3: The Sales Meeting
In our previous two parts of the Sales Enablement Guide to Win/Loss Analysis (found here and here), we talked about the important of win/loss analyses and how to get the customer involved. Now, it’s time to talk about the practical aspects of conducting the actual sales meeting. Before you start your first session, you need to make sure you have a solid plan so that you don’t waste everyone’s time on something that doesn’t work.
We’ve broken down the process into the five questions that come up most often when planning a new win/loss analysis initiative.
How long should it take?
If you don’t enter the analysis session with a clear game plan and all the relevant information easily available, assessing a single won deal could eat up your entire afternoon. That’s not ideal, especially since this meeting will likely involve sales managers, sales reps, marketers, etc.—all people who have other valuable things they could be doing during this time. By following this guide and finessing your process over time, you can keep your meetings short, sweet, and to the point (in other words: productive).
The timeframe for these meetings will differ depending on the complexity of your sales cycle, the importance of the deal, and the number of people involved. However, as a general ballpark, try to keep the analysis of each opportunity to 15-20 minutes. This may seem short, but with the right tools and process, it’s easily achieved. The goal is to get value out of the meeting without keeping your sales team out of commission for a significant portion of the day.
Which opportunities should you focus on?
Our recommendation is to always focus on the biggest deals, but occasionally assess some small/medium tier opportunities in order to ensure that your sales process is effective for those as well. Depending on how much time you have available, the session might focus entirely on the latest won or lost deal, or you might briefly go through the last five opportunities to exit the pipeline. The best scenario is to have a variety that you analyze over time. This variety helps you get the most value out of the process.
What data should you look at?
A crucial component will be the information gathered from the customer interview. One of our favorite approaches is to ask the sales rep the same questions you asked the prospect in order to see if the rep had a clear understanding of the deal. You’ll find a correlation between won deals and reps who had a good handle on the opportunity.
However, just using the customer’s responses isn’t enough (especially since you can’t always rely on the customer getting on the phone). So if you don’t have any other sales tracking tools at your disposal, you’ll have to head over to the tool sales reps love to hate: CRM. Admittedly, CRM’s sales metrics are the bare minimum, their reports don’t tend to show useful data, and we all know how sales reps struggle to capture relevant information during the sales cycle. It’s better than nothing, but it’s not great for a win/loss analysis designed to get you valuable insight in a short amount of time.
So what’s a sales manager to do? Here are our favorite tools that make it easy to gather the information you need for a win/loss analysis and digest it during the meeting:
- Automatic CRM Data Entry: How often do your sales reps enter meticulous and detailed notes about the opportunity into CRM? You probably just laughed when you read that question. Sales reps have better things to do with their time than spend 5 minutes after each call or email logging information. However, it’s possible to track your sales team’s activities, from sending emails to making phone calls, and then automatically add the data collected from the tracking into your CRM.
- Email Tracking: Another common hitch that occurs during the analysis is when the sales rep struggles to think back over the conversations that happened over the months. Instead of digging through the inbox, trying to find the right thread, use email tracking software to keep all communication with buyers organized and easily accessible. Every presentation, message, links, etc. sent back and forth between buyer and seller is all laid out in easy view. On top of that, email tracking software lets you know which emails the buyer opened, read, and engaged with—an excellent metric when you’re analyzing losses and wins.
- Data Analytics: Instead of trying to nitpick how much time passed before the buyer responded to an email or whether or not the sales presentation that the rep sent over was the right choice, why not let analytics do the heavy lifting for you? By connecting a sales analytics engine to your CRM, you can look at all of your opportunities at the macro level to identify what sales materials work best for different buyer personas, the ideal time to follow up with a prospect, which opportunities have the highest likelihood of closing, etc. You can also compare individual opportunities to past performance to see where certain sales activities and messaging could be improved.
Next steps: how will you use the information you uncover?
The win/loss analysis process doesn’t end as soon as the sales meeting does. If you uncover valuable insight during the meeting (and if you’re doing it properly, you most definitely will), that insight is meaningless unless you have a follow-up plan to put it into action. Whether you change the process or the tools at your disposal, the important thing is that your sales department does change for the better. Good luck.