21 Jan 19 Win Loss is not CRM analysis

Very few (if any) organizations will admit they don’t conduct win-loss analysis. After all, this is now deemed integral to every sales process. Since every CRM has a field for “Reasons for loss”, it is easy enough to analyze.

Any analysis is only as good as the data that is available. Yet, majority of organizations don’t take cognizance of the quality of data in their CRMs. This is the biggest reason for failing to get actionable insights.

Typically, after a lost deal, sales will reach out to the customer and ask for reasons, and this then goes into the CRM. However, data quality suffers due to a variety of reasons:

  • The customer has a warm relationship with the salesperson, and that can inhibit criticism.
  • Sales is usually busy with the next deal, or just lazy about filling this data.
  • Reasons reflect internal perceptions, and not inputs from decision-makers (clients).
  • The sales person may not want the real reasons to be evident.
  • A single question like “why did we lose?” can provide partial or misleading answers.
  • Sales people are often not trained in conducting discussions/interviews, and probing.


Interestingly, a study found that sales people tend to be wrong around 60% of the time!

Recently, a client came to us with the results of their internal analysis. This showed that 34% of their losses were due to price, another 23% were due to the project being deferred, and 18% were due to budget constraints. We conducted a formal win-loss exercise, including speaking with decision makers (customers) and trying to assess the real reasons. This included questions on their perceptions of the service/company, quality of proposal, engagement of sales team, etc. We also probed into what might make them select our client in future – sometimes the real reason is revealed by asking the same question differently!

The before/after results are shown in the chart.

Win Loss Analysis

The results were startling – at least for our client!

Most of the lost deals labeled “price”, turned out to have deeper causes. These included poor proposal quality, inability to demonstrate capability and even a lack of comfort dealing with the salesperson. Interestingly, “price” is an easy way out – and the most common reason provided in CRM data. This gives a way out for the sales team – “we need to reduce prices”.

The second major finding was that a large chunk (nearly a fourth) of lost deals attributed to timing or inadequate budget were actually do to poor qualification. These companies had no real intention to buy, but for various reasons went ahead with the sales process. A further analysis (cross-analyzing with authority, quality of the RFP, etc.) helped provide the client with valuable signals about which leads were more likely to be non-serious.

Companies are in an eternal race to acquire new customers, and a lot of effort goes into lead generation. However, conversion rates are often poor. A structured, regular, win-loss program that includes discussions with decision-makers is critical, as it helps understand the real reasons why we win or lose orders and what we therefore need to do.

The answers are available. All we need to do is ask the right people, in the right way!

Arun Jethmalani

Arun is one of the founders of ValueNotes. Apart from trying to build a high-quality research business, he has spent the last 27 years researching, analyzing, and dissecting companies and industries. He has worked with clients of all shapes and sizes, from all parts of the world – in providing them insights that make a difference to their business.
Prior to ValueNotes, he was an equity analyst/advisor, and wrote extensively on investing – including a column titled “Value for Money” which ran for 10 years in the Sunday edition of the Economic Times. To this day, he remains an avid “value” investor.
He has also been published in several other publications, and is a regular speaker at events related to technology, investing, competitive intelligence, business process management, Internet, etc. See: Valuenotes Events
He has been instrumental in developing a community of research and intelligence professionals in India, and is the founder and current chairman of the SCIP (India) Chapter. Arun holds a B Tech from IIT, Bombay and an MS from Duke University, NC, USA. LinkedIn Profile

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