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A Q&A with Win-Loss Expert Jen Berkley Jackson

Win Loss Analysis

A typical LMS vendor loses many more deals than they win. And often, you have no idea why, and may not even know who you were up against. To learn from these losses, you need answers. I interviewed one of the all-time great win-loss experts, who’s job it is to get those answers for learning technology companies.

I was an early adopter of win-loss analysis to find out why we were losing deals, and why we were winning deals. It was amazing to learn how different our prospects thought about us, versus what we assumed they thought. We also learned that we could find out a lot more by using a 3rd party to get the answers, rather than doing it ourselves.

And then taking that knowledge and transforming our messages and de-constructing our sales approach did wonders for our growth rate.

My favorite win-loss expert is Jen Berkley Jackson of The Insight Advantage. I had the pleasure of working with her for many years researching why we won and lost, which resulted in improvements that changed our world.

Jen Berkley Jackson
Jen Berkley Jackson of Insight Advantage

Jen Berkley Jackson, founder, and owner of The Insight Advantage, uses various methods (surveys, focus groups, one-on-one interviews) to integrate voice-of-customer, helping organizations increase market share, revamp product lines/services, and ultimately increase customer loyalty and retention.

Throughout all her work, I observed that Jen is committed to helping organizations realize the link between increased profits and understanding how their customers think. Today, Jen works with a variety of companies to regularly to feed win-loss insights into their businesses.

I recently interviewed Jen to understand how she does it, and what are the results.

Q. How do you conduct win-loss research?

Jen: The best way to gather this kind of input is through one-on-one telephone interviews that last no longer than 30 minutes. We maximize participation by reaching out to contacts after they receive an introductory email from an executive at our client’s company, which legitimizes the project and prepares people to hear from us as a 3rd party.

Your new customers will be glad to participate without any incentive, but you will need to offer an incentive to people who did not choose to do business with you.

Q. What are some tips for LMS vendors who want to do win-loss research?

Jen: There are a few critical success factors for win-loss research:

  • Get top-level support. Having your top executives support a win-loss program is key since the results of these programs reach beyond any one department.
  • Timing is everything. You need to reach out to buyers right after the decision is made. So, try to avoid doing win-loss research in batches where there can be a long delay for some accounts. By following up with people soon after their sales experience, you can get the most current information and ensure that the contact remembers the details of their experience.
  • Develop an interview script that covers the key data you want to understand and includes both open and closed-ended questions, allowing you to quantify the results.
  • Collaborate with the sales team. It’s key to get their support and help in developing the interview script and interpreting the results.
  • Share results cross-functionally in the organization. You will get insights that go beyond sales processes, pricing, etc. Be sure that all trends are shared with the appropriate areas and integrated with data they may already be collecting. This helps ensure that there is a complete view of the customer’s world.

Q. What are the biggest reasons an LMS company would bring you in to help with their win-loss research efforts?

Jen: There are a couple of reasons why companies bring me in:

  • Most LMS companies just don’t have the resources to devote to regularly following up on their won and lost opportunities.
  • Prospects will give an impartial 3rd party more honest input about the sales experience and their perceptions of your LMS vs. your competitors. Usually, I’m able to get a deeper level of detail that a salesperson who asks why a prospect didn’t buy from them.

Q. We all understand why companies want to invest in finding out why they lost business, but what about won business?

Jen: We’ve found that newly signed customers have some great information to share with their new vendor about not only competitive strengths, weaknesses and even pricing details, but also insights about where they looked for solutions as well as valuable advice about how to improve the sales process.

One side benefit of talking to won customers is that they are impressed by a company who invests in this kind of follow-up, and I’ve heard many comments about how the interviews make them feel even better about their choice.

Q. What are the top benefits that companies can experience by doing win-loss research?

Jen: The big ones are:

  • Shorter sales cycles.
  • Deeper insights than what salespeople put in the CRM.
  • A deeper understanding of your competition’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Information about how you’re perceived in the marketplace.
  • And of course, a higher close rate and more sales.

For more information about Jen Berkley Jackson’s win-loss services, visit her website or contact her directly.

About the Author

Gordon Johnson

Gordon Johnson has been a marketing leader in the corporate L&D industry for over twenty years. His specialty is developing transformative marketing strategies that generate qualified sales opportunities, employing the latest digital marketing channels, coupled with traditional techniques to achieve industry-leading brand awareness, widespread web presence and high-impact value propositions. Other marketing concentrations include content marketing, messaging, social marketing, positioning strategy, analyst relations, events, account-based marketing (ABM), email marketing, customer success and lead-generation. Contact Gordon.