TALKING SALES 32: “Win-Loss review: Gaining customer buy-in”

Win-loss - wiifme


In this Interview Cian McLoughlin shares his experience with gaining customer commitment to participate in a win-loss review.

Cian Portrait570x618John Smibert asked Cian “What do customers see as the value for them in participating in win-loss reviews“. In response Cian highlighted three key things that motivate them to contribute.

He pointed out firstly that if the salesperson has done a professional job and helped the customer through the buying process – win, lose or draw – the customer generally feels that they have an obligation to give feedback.

Cian has found that the majority of customers see two key additional items of value in participating; 1. Enhancing value and choice in providers, and 2. Improving their own buying processes. View the video to learn more.

Cian McLoughlin is a guru in win/loss analysis, he’s a speaker, an author, and a leading advisor to the sales fraternity.

See more of the ‘TALKING SALES’ series here


John: I’m here again with Cian McLoughlin. Welcome back!

Cian: Thanks John, nice to be here!

John: In one of our earlier discussions you talked about the fact that you have no problem in getting customers to agree to do a win loss.

Cian: Correct.

John: I’d be very interested to understand why, and what customers see as the value in participating in that?

Cian: That’s a great question, John. I must admit, I was a little bit surprised at how willing the majority, not all,  but the vast majority of customers were to participate. Initially I was thinking about it from the vendor’s perspective – okay, they’re going to be giving insights and adding value, but what’s in it for them? – Then as part of the research for my book, which is coming out later this year, I actually reached out to a whole lot of customers and procurement people, and asked the question – “why would you participate in a win/loss review at the end of the sales process? What’s in it for you?”

The feedback was really, really interesting. They said: firstly, if the sales rep – particularly the sales rep rather than the organisation – has done a good job, if they’ve acted professionally, if they’ve helped us through the process – win, lose or draw – we believe they’ve earned the right to feedback. I thought that was really, really interesting. But then they also went on to say that they see value in helping organisations to improve their service, to improve their product and to innovate, because ultimately that allows them to have more choice in the market.

The last thing they want – and this was something I heard time and time again – they don’t want to see a monopoly or an oligopoly for whatever the product or service is. They want a market that has lots of different choice that allows them to really compare and contrast and get the best possible outcome, so they see the value in that.

John: I can see that too, but that’s out there a little bit. Is there any immediate value, are there any case studies where they have given you feedback that they’ve got value.

Cian: Well, there’s another thing which, again, was a little bit of a surprise to me when we started down this road with vendors. The customers say “We’d love to get a copy of the report.”

John: Okay.

Cian: Yes. “We actually think that it will be valuable to us to understand what insights you’ve extracted. We can then use that internally to talk about the process, where we have areas to improve, how we can get better in the way we engage with vendors.”

John: We as a customer.

Cian: We as a customer. Because often they deal with lots of different vendors in different areas. So, it’s an insight to them in terms of how they’ve been perceived through the process and how they ran the process. But also, particularly in the case of a win – you know, customers are people too, and the customers are looking to build their careers and to enhance their careers, so this is an opportunity to say “This is the feedback of a third party. We’ve done this well, this was good, this is a return on investment.” They can use that as a mechanism internally to drive new projects, to help their career progression, to do all sorts of interesting things.

John: Sounds fascinating, and really an eye-opener for me. I’ve always believed in win/loss and doing that analysis, but too often I’ve seen it being done internally with a bit of navel-gazing and not really engage the customer properly in the process. So, thank you very much for that!

Cian: Pleasure, John! Thanks for having me!

John: Look forward to our next discussion!

Cian: Likewise!


See more of the ‘TALKING SALES’ series here


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John leads three related organisations, Custell, Strategic Selling Group and Sales Masterminds APAC. These help B2B selling organisations, who recognise the need to transform their sales capability, to respond to the tsunami of change that is starting to wash over us all. He works with people who recognise that to survive they must more strategically support their customer in their buying journey - and understand that they must become specialists in the customer's domain in order to be of value to them. He also helps sales teams build differentiated personal brands and leverage the digital and social worlds to engage to create trust and value.

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