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Interviewing - an essential part of effective win-loss analysis
Thursday, 10th May 2012
There is really no company or industry that will not benefit from win/loss analysis. Most researchers are good at collecting data. Many, however, are reluctant to pick up the phone and solicit information from people, and would rather perform information collection on-line. Win/loss interviewing is an essential skill for the advanced researcher.
There is really no company or industry I have worked for that does not benefit from win/loss analysis. Most researchers are good at collecting data. Many, however, are reluctant to pick up the phone and solicit information from people, and would rather perform information collection online.
Win/loss interviewing is for the experienced primary researcher as it is not a survey and you have to think on your feet. Having a competitive intelligence background is useful since we have so much experience making cold calls. This is a warm call since you and the person you interview both know of each other. What you don’t know is what they know, and you only have a short time to find out. Many companies prefer to outsource win/loss analysis since they feel that their customers and prospects will open up more to a neutral third party.
You gain intelligence by interviewing your company’s customers shortly after the sales event whether you won or lost. The objective is to find out why they chose to do business with you or decided on a competitor. That information in and of itself is useful, but what makes win/loss more valuable is the analysis of the interviews and the actions you take to improve your competitiveness.
To gain as much insight as possible, the interviewer needs to be spontaneous and intuitive, and to take the initiative to delve more deeply into certain areas depending on how the customer answers. Be polite and keep to the allotted time. If you go over the time, acknowledge this and make sure the customer has the time. Thank the customer at the end of your interview. Remember not only do you represent yourself, you also represent your company (or if you are a consultant, the company who hired you).
Write up each interview within 24 hours of conducting it. It’s too easy to forget and I am not comfortable taping interviews. I leave the door open to reconnect with the customer or prospect if I feel I have missed a key point while I am reviewing my notes.
The most time consuming part of win/loss analysis is where you review all of your interviews, and discover trends. Are there certain things that jump out? Perhaps there is a product feature that you don’t have that the competition does. Perhaps your sales force is not positioned with decision-makers in most of your lost deals. Perhaps your tech support people are awesome, but it takes too long for customers to connect with them
Interviewing is one essential aspect of win/loss analysis. This is a process that those in almost any job role can benefit from learning more about to gain a deeper knowledge of customer decision-making processes, shortcomings in your products or services, sales processes that work (and don't), ideas for new products and so much more.
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By Ellen Naylor
Ellen Naylor has 30 years of marketing and sales experience with a focus on competitive intelligence (CI). She worked in corporate CI at Verizon and Northwest Airlines before forming a CI and market research consultancy, The Business Intelligence Source in 1993. Ellen is an active SCIP member, serving on its board of directors, chapter leadership, and numerous committees since 1990. She is a popular speaker and prolific writer in Competitive Intelligence Magazine, Competitive Intelligence Foundation books, Naylor's Mailer and her blog, http://cooperativeintelligenceblog.com. She is also a member of AIIP and ASP, among other associations.
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