As competition increases for most companies, understanding why companies win and lose sales is increasingly critical.

Since Primary Intelligence's State of Win/Loss study reported more competitive activity this year than previously, gathering data about buyers and the buying process presents a clear advantage.

Successfully starting and running a win/loss analysis program takes skill, patience, and tenacity. Here are four tactical recommendations to help ensure your company’s win/loss efforts are effective.

Four Tactical Recommendations for Win Loss Programs

1. Implement win/loss metrics.

To get the most from win/loss programs, it’s important to determine what percentage of deals are being included in the win/loss pool of candidates. Are all wins and losses included? Or a subset of one or both groups?

Determining the reasons why not all opportunities are included can be insightful. For example, some companies have a minimum threshold – such as $50,000 sales deals – to focus on strategic opportunities. Win loss analysis opportunities that are being strategically discarded may be acceptable. Not knowing the opportunities because of poor data and reporting systems may not.

2. Automate the win/loss process.

Getting a list of opportunities to interview, along with the correct contact information for each contact, is one of the hardest aspects of many win/loss programs. The reason it’s difficult is that many companies’ CRM and SFA databases include inaccurate or incomplete information. To the extent that the data can be cleaned and the process can be automated, your win loss analysis will directly benefit. Not only does this produce a steady stream of opportunities that can be pursued for win/loss interviews and feedback, but it removes sales as a potential dependency when following up with customers.

While sales representatives can be very helpful in securing interviews with customers, they can also sometimes be a bottleneck. Removing any potential roadblocks is essential for keeping the program moving forward.

“…we put in place an automated process where we took a batch mode of losses based off  our system so that we weren’t also heavily dependent upon the reps coming forward with their individual cases.” ~ Director, Worldwide Sales, Information Technology Industry

3. Enlist sales assistance in getting interviews.

Knowing and tracking which contracts are responding and agreeing to participate in win/loss interviews is helpful because it allows the win loss analysis team to go back to the account team and ask for their help in securing feedback. Since the buyer most closely associates the vendor with their sales rep or team, an “ask” from this individual or group can help break scheduling and participation logjams.

“…the sales folks can help us get [interviews] scheduled faster if they nudge the prospect or the buyer they worked with.” ~ Senior Manager, Workforce Management Industry

4. Use win/loss feedback for sales training.

Win loss analysis can help training departments and sales leaders identify gaps in sales performance and correct areas of weaknesses or under performance. Similarly, win/loss programs can identify sales practices that are consistently superior, leveraging them for use by other sales teams.