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Overcoming CYA - Who Should Really Own the Win-loss Review Process?

win loss reviews


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Many companies manage by numbers, which are important, but far from comprehensive. What’s the story behind the data? If your sales team is winning more pitches than they lose, you might consider leaving “well enough alone.” Something’s going your way, so don’t tinker with success, right?

Wrong. Even if you have a winning success rate, you still need to know what’s working well so that you can capitalize on it. And if you’re losing, find out what needs to change in order to turn those stats around.

If your organization is truly committed to improving the sales process, they will invest in a win-loss review process. The win-loss review process needs to truly capture the voice of the customer in an open and honest manner to provide you with valuable insight.

Just having such a process isn’t enough. It needs the right oversight and endorsement within your organization in order to be effective. So who should own the win-loss review process in your company?

  • Sales? If it stays within sales, you run the risk of introspective “navel gazing.” It would be nothing more than an internal review without the endorsement of or oversight from the broader organization. Clients might not be as forthcoming with their feedback, especially if the sale was lost. If you want to be taken seriously, both within and beyond the sales team, look outside.
  • Marketing? You might consider the marketing function to own the win-loss review process, but that wouldn’t be prudent. There is too much competition between the functions and a lack of objectivity. Unless you have a highly credible marketing leader who has the respect of the sales force, marketing should not own your win-loss review process.
  • Outsourced? Should you outsource your win-loss review to athird party? This might seem efficient as well as objective. It demonstrates to customers that you care enough to invest in the process in order to improve your performance. However, while there is merit in gaining objectivethird-party feedback, there is also a degree of detachment from the process and the possibility of dismissing results from the outsiders that you might not want to hear. For this to work, it needs senior-level buy-in and a rigorous, consistent approach.
  • Business Unit Leadership? We believe this is best. The insights are valuable for marketing purposes, but these insights also need to make their way into the sales organization and down to the front lines. This is difficult to realize if the sales leader and the marketing leader aren’t on the same page — which they rarely are. For this reason, we recommend the process be owned or sponsored by a business unit leader who sits over sales and marketing.
It is important to position the win-loss review process not as a punitive process, but as an opportunity to learn and help everyone get better. However, it needs to be more than a conversation between a sales manager and a sales rep.

Establish that the purpose is to connect with clients of winning pitches, as well as the ones that got away in losing situations to find out why. Be careful to give both wins and losses equal attention to effectively gauge what to do more or less of in trying for new business. Whoever owns this process for your sales organization should consistently reinforce that purpose. 

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