Building a Win-loss Program Driven by Data

A big part of product marketing is seeking to understand your audience. What are your customers’ main wants and needs when it comes to products like yours? And how well does your product meet their priorities?

While those questions seem straightforward, they’re not simple to answer.

Getting inside the heads of potential customers to understand what they’re thinking during the purchasing process is no small feat. Data can help you track their interactions with your brand, which will yield some insights. But data only gives a partial picture on its own.

Win/loss interviews can fill in the details, by giving you an opportunity to hear from your audience in their own words. But even the information you get in a win/loss interview can have flaws if you don’t structure the process well.

The best way to gain as full a picture as possible is to combine the two things, and use data to make your win/loss program stronger.

 

Why to Make Your Win/Loss Program Data Driven

Building a win/loss program is a valuable way to gain more information about what your audience cares about, what they think of your product, and how they feel it compares to the competition. But a win/loss program requires time and resources. If you’re going to make the investment, you need to design it in a way that produces value.

Basing your program on data ensures that the resources you invest are put to the best use. It will help you identify the best candidates to interview, and make sure you ask them the right questions to learn what you need to know. And matching their answers to the data you already have will paint a fuller picture.

Data gives you key information about the prospect and their overall journey with your company. And their answers help you understand the thoughts and feelings behind the different actions they take. Each provides context for the other.

 

How to Use Data in Your Win/Loss Program

Marketers have lots of different products and tools that produce data. But turning that data into useful insights is a unique skill set. To put the data you have to use in your win/loss program, here are a few of the main things to look at.

 

Calculate your Win/Loss Ratio

To start, figure out just how often you’re winning and losing sales to begin with. Track the number of qualified leads your sales team starts working with, and how many of them turn into customers. This will provide a high-level view of how successful the sales process is. Pay attention to any changes in your win/loss ratio over time, to spot when shifts in your strategy or the larger market are affecting your success rate.

When building your interview program, this can help you determine where to put your focus. If there’s been an uptick in losses recently, you may want to focus more of your interviews on prospects that chose not to buy to understand why.

 

Identify Your Most Valuable Customers

Your wins aren’t all worth the same amount. Another important piece of data to consider is which of your customers are worth the most to your business. To figure that out, look at which are producing the highest profits for your company.

Whether that’s due to buying multiple products, investing in upgrades, or choosing the premium version, they’re worth more to you than customers that spend less. Also look at retention rates and calculate estimated customer lifetime value. Loyal customers that keep working with you over years are worth more than those that only buy once.

Use those metrics to identify who your most valuable customers are, and to figure out what they have in common. If your company’s profits come primarily from businesses of a certain size or in a particular industry, those are the prospects and customers that deserve the most attention. Skew your win/loss program to prioritize interviews with them.

 

Use Data to Understand Trends in the Buyer’s Journey

For most products—particularly in the world of business to business (B2B)—the buyer’s journey is complicated. Your prospects probably don’t learn about your brand and make a purchase the same day. Most of them encounter multiple marketing touch points and interact with your sales team a few times before making a decision.

To understand which marketing materials helped move them toward the point of purchase (or not), you need to analyze the full buyer’s journey. See what trends you can find in which marketing activities most consistently lead to qualified leads and purchases. Then do the same for the sales journey, are there commonalities in which sales reps most frequently produce wins, what materials they use, or the types of prospects they’re able to get past that finish line?

What you learn by analyzing this data can help you make decisions about which prospects and customers to interview, and craft more useful questions for when you talk to them. Figure out as much as you can about who they are and what they respond to before the conversation, so you can use the time you have to fill in details you can’t learn from the data.

 

Segment Win/Loss Data by Customer Type

Different prospects will have different preferences and priorities. Your marketing and sales team will benefit from understanding how tactics and topics land differently with each of the audiences you target. Dig into the data you have on win/loss rates and the activities leading up to them to understand what works for different types of customers.

Then use what you learn in crafting your interviews. If the data suggests enterprise clients routinely respond well to a certain sales activity or content on a particular topic, that’s useful to know going into your interviews with them. If your loss rates are higher with local retail businesses, your interview questions should aim to get at why that type of business usually goes with an alternative.

 

Turn Insights from Win/Loss Interviews into Data

Win/loss interviews will provide a lot of insights into how your audience thinks and feels. That’s valuable, and can inform your personas, product marketing, and sales strategies. But you can make the feedback go even further by also turning it into data.

Work to categorize and tag the answers prospects and customers gave. By turning the responses into data, you can better spot trends that help you see how the answers of individuals relate to the larger categories they’re a part of. That way you can better extrapolate what you learn from one prospect to make educated guesses about what similar leads think.

 

Use What You Learned for Competitive Enablement

When prospects are deciding whether or not to purchase your product, they’re usually evaluating it alongside other similar options. One big value of win/loss interview programs is gaining an understanding of how your product compares to others in the eyes of the people making the decision. The information you gain in the interview process is important for deepening your competitive analysis.

Apply what you learn to how you present your product moving forward. Emphasize what prospects feel what your product does best, and how it’s an improvement over their other options. Win/loss interviews provide lots of information, but that only turns into a competitive advantage if you make a point of putting what you learn to use in your messaging and strategy.

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