Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Improving Win Rates

Still here at the Gartner Local Briefing. In a session with Richard Fouts about customer win rates.


Sharing Win/Loss Data


Sales teams tend to advertise their wins, yet contain their losses. Why is this so?

Q: How many global IT companies conduct win/loss on an enterprise scale? Less than 5%? About 10%? About 20%?
A: Less than 5%

Why?
  • CEOs and Sales people say "I know why we win/lose". 
  • Some politics are touchy; people don't want you to expose what they did well/not (especially in competitive environments). 
  • "I clicked the won/loss checkbox in Salesforce.com"
One company evaluated their win/loss data. They looked at 140 wins, and 55 losses. Looking at this data, they noticed a correlation between the wins and the fact that they beat their competition to market with compelling announcements in over a third of the scenarios.

An IT services firm attempted to sell a more sophisticated solution. Upon evaluation of the win/loss data, they found that more deals were being lost. That data point led the company to discover that their sales force wasn't prepared to sell the more complex solution and thus they were unable to close those deals. The company had two choices: revert to less-complex deals, or retool their sales team. They opted for the latter.



Getting Buyer Feedback


True/False: Buyers are more willing to share why they bought from us...then why they didn't. (Trick Question!)
  • Buyers don't want to tell you why they did select you because they don't want you to become complacent with them as a customer. They want to keep you on your toes!
  • Buyers don't want to tell you why they didn't want to buy from you because they don't want you to come back and try to re-pitch them and create an uncomfortable scenario.
  • Third party interviews, however, enjoy the benefits of being a "safe" resource.

One interesting tactic is to ask a Buyer to spend 20 minutes to answer 5 questions. This is a disarming quantity of time that people are willing to afford you. What questions should you ask?
  • Competitors: Which vendors were considered?
  • Evaluation: What were top priorities?
  • Sales Cycle: How did requirements change?
  • Lessons: Anything you would have done differently?
  • Conclude: What did I forget to ask you?
Avoid closed-ended questions (yes/no).
Think about the follow-up question you'll ask if you get a certain response.
Know when to let the interview go off-script (let the buyer take you somewhere interesting).

Some other good questions:
  • What went well?
  • What could have gone better?
  • Would you buy again?
  • If asked about us, would you recommend buying from us?

Conclusion


If you don't know why you're winning (or losing), you are ill-equipped to to sustain your success or correct your approach. If you don't have the human resources to invest in win/loss, you can retain third-parties to do this for you. Most companies that contract win-loss work spend $50-$75K/year on it. If this swings one to two deals in your favor, it pays for itself.

Once you have the data, present the big picture and spotlight on key wins/losses from which valuable advice/lessons can be derived and shared.

All of the People, None of the Time

Sitting here in a local Gartner briefing in San Francisco, where they're describing the Marketing Investment Model. As usual, a lot of sensible information presented that is unfortunately not always followed.

One of the interesting aspects that was discussed was the typical marketing message style employed throughout the tech industry. "At [company name], we..." "We work the way you work..." "We're platform agnostic..." "Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce..." OK, I inserted that last one...but you get the point.

Many companies employ a very passive message in an attempt to put prospective buyers at ease with the promise of flexibility. This boils down to: "Don't scare away any prospective buyers; let's appeal to them all!"

What often transpires, however, is that companies fail to sufficiently entice a buyer with a clear, firm, confident, focused position bolstered with a sound approach and success stories.

When you try to be everything to everybody, you fail to be anything to anybody.