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10 Benefits of Seller-Generated Win/Loss Reviews
By Rick Marcet

Your business has a rich source of business intelligence hiding in plain view. It's an undiscovered goldmine of information that can help salespeople know how best to approach their customers and beat the competition. By tapping into this same information source, marketing will be more informed on what campaigns are producing results, and product development teams can be tuned in to near real-time customer feedback. Executives can benefit by having more clear insight into business risks. And the list of beneficiaries goes on...

Who holds this valuable information? Your sales force. You can capture it by using a seller-generated win/loss review process--a system for documenting and organizing all the factors that contributed to either the win or the loss. Win/loss reviews embrace the concept of improvement through continuous learning, feedback, and knowledge sharing. Here are 10 advantages of adopting this method for capturing business intelligence at your company.

Results in more wins for salespeople.
Salespeople benefit from this process by having access to the knowledge base of insights composed of other seller entries, and applying those actionable insights to their active opportunities. A simple search query allows sellers to select specific criteria about past deals that most closely match their current situation, and then create a personalized report, helping them avoid tactical errors and imitate successful approaches.

Recaptures sales where the seller disengaged.
Recorded details about the point in the sales cycle at which the seller walks away offer a wealth of information that sales managers can use to identify the problem and formulate a new approach. These include factors such as pipeline management competence, team discipline, a customer's frozen budget, a customer's shifted priorities, cultural missteps, and a company's inability to deliver a solution, among many others.

Enables proposals of higher quality to existing customers and prospects.
Since customers are looking for their business partners and suppliers to bring them new and innovative ideas, instead of solutions that address only existing business challenges, win/loss review data enables the company to compile a rich library of innovative ideas and solutions that provide competitive differentiation, enriched and optimized with the collective knowledge of prior experiences.

Helps executives provide more reliable guidance to investors and make better strategic decisions.
By not only knowing when your sales teams will close their deals, but also why they're winning and losing deals, executives can make more reliable forecasts that drive guidance to investors. And they will make strategic decisions that accurately factor in what the sales teams are experiencing on a day-to-day basis.

Creates a sales process that's scalable and not personality driven.
Relying too heavily on personal relationships to win deals and grow the business does not scale well and can lead to a false sense of sound sales and marketing strategies or incorrect assessment of capabilities. An overreliance on relationships may actually mask mediocrity and underperformance in other areas. Using win/loss review data helps uncover hidden areas of the business that could be improved.

Creates a strong bridge between sales and marketing.
Seller-generated win/loss reviews offer an important feedback loop to gauge the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. Drawing from the most comprehensive, up-to-date, relevant data possible, marketing can produce customer case studies, customer references, playbooks, and a host of assorted materials that help sales teams. And importantly, salespeople feel valued and "listened to" by marketing.

Captures data and knowledge from salespeople - before they leave.
It's well known that you will lose 5-10% of your salespeople to attrition. Win/loss reviews extract their knowledge and experience immediately, and that valuable information is stored and becomes the property of your company. It won't walk out the door when they do.

Creates a collaborative bridge between sales and product development teams.
Real-time reports from the sales front, when analyzed, can expose a disturbing trend with a product, such as a design flaw or other deficiency, perhaps one that is found in the majority of losses. Sales teams appreciate that their feedback is being heard. Combined, the collection of insights from salespeople can result in faster and better product improvements, and more competitive and innovative products and services.

Builds a library of information for multiple uses and users.
The living, growing body of business intelligence provides a company with countless ways to repurpose it. Some examples: identifies candidates to nominate for sales awards; provides raw data for white papers and case studies; makes reports of all kinds easy to assemble; provides a databank of information pertaining to the buying behaviors in foreign countries and multiple cultures; and offers a rich source of data about leading competitors.

Interfaces beautifully with technology use and social media.
Technology and social media are shaping business culture and enabling actionable intelligence to proliferate on many devices and form factors across a broad set of stakeholders. Win/loss reviews and social software are a perfect match, and the "coolness" of using social-networking-like interfaces actually encourages sellers to participate without the need for stringent policy enforcement.

About the Author:
Rick Marcet is Program Director for the World-Class Selling initiative at Microsoft Corporation, and a frequent speaker worldwide on sales excellence. In Win/Loss Reviews: A New Knowledge Model for Competitive Intelligence (Wiley, 2011), he presents a blueprint of his award-winning win/loss review model used at Microsoft and being adopted in many of today's highest performing organizations, with stunning results.

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