6 Steps to Improve Your Win-Loss Process: Part 1

Part of planning my goals for 2014 involves reviewing what I did well and what I could improve on from 2013. At Iasta, I’m part of the Win-Loss team and one of my favorite Iasta success stories from 2013 is our revamped win-loss process.

Prior to 2013, Iasta performed win-loss interviews with clients and prospects, but we didn’t have a solid process for determining who to interview, when to interview them, and how to communicate results.

In hopes of bringing new ideas about systematically building products to meet the needs of the market, I attended a Pragmatic Marketing class taught by Stacey Webber where she emphasized the importance of win-loss as an important source of market information and came back resolved to rework and re-energize our win-loss process.

Stacey discussed how important win-loss data is to product management teams. In Part 1 of my post, I’d like to share the first 3 steps and how we improved our win-loss process at Iasta:

Step # 1: Getting Resources
One of the primary issues with our win-loss process was we had a single resource with <5% of her time dedicated to win-loss- it was simply not enough manpower to do the job we wanted. The very first step we took to improve our process was to create a blended team with representatives from Marketing and Product Management so we could share the workload!

Step # 2: Setting Goals & Getting Executive Support
Our team set the following goals for the new and improved win-loss strategy:

  1. Find out what our clients and prospects think about the reputation of Iasta, as well as our brand, sales cycle, marketing efforts, and product functionality.
  2. Understand our customer’s buying process and journey to making a decision.
  3. Identify areas for improvement and strengths from our clients and prospects.
  4. Pinpoint key functionality that is helping Iasta win or lose deals.
  5. Learn how clients and prospects view Iasta in relation to our competition.

Getting executive support for initiatives that aren’t directly related to generating revenue or saving money can be difficult, but at Iasta this part was easy. We are lucky to have a forward-thinking management team who could easily envision both our objectives and the long-term benefits of having a standard process for gathering information from clients and prospects. Prior to getting approval we created a charter document that described our goals and our proposed process.

Step # 3: Planning the Process
Our detailed process plan involved researching best practices and looking at a variety of sample interview questions. We pulled a lot of information from the Pragmatic Marketing recommendations, but we also researched recommendations and practices from business process consulting organizations and win-loss practitioners at other software companies.

Some of the key factors involved in designing our process were:

  • Determine who we should interview and at what stage in the sales process we should reach out to them.
  • Conduct background research for each company so we go into the interviews with some basic information about their company and what they do.
  • Build automated functions into our CRM system so the win-loss team is automatically notified when a company reaches a win or loss state.
  • Revise interview templates and review with key members of sales, marketing, accounting, customer support, and legal to build questions that reveal more information about buyers’ interior thoughts and how they impact their decision making.
  • Create a standard protocol for inviting organizations to participate in win-loss and manage the interview and post-interview communication.
  • Determine how often we would compile results and how we would distribute them.
  • Formalize and document the process so multiple resources can collect data more consistently.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll discuss the final 3 steps Iasta took to improve our win-loss process. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you’ve done to improve your company’s win-loss process. Share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting @iasta.

Still quiet here.sas

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