It probably goes without saying, if you follow my blog, that I am a big proponent of tracking this type of information in a CRM system. Loss data makes it much easier to aggregate and develop useful actions to improve the sales results. It is also important to accounts, opportunities, success in market segments, and particular customer types to help develop new strategies and initiatives.
Capturing loss information to use for strategic planning and pricing at the surface seems like a very simple task, which is why I was initially surprised it made the Top 10 list in our VP of Sales survey/study. To add a little clarity, they consider strategic planning to include sales strategies, marketing strategies, value propositions, and target markets — a pretty extensive list.
The act of capturing loss data is quite simple; log the loss reason into a spreadsheet, CRM, or other outlet. The real challenge is making it meaningful. Time to share a quick story! In my role as director of sales at previous employer, we had tracked loss data for a long time, first in Excel and then a CRM. Made no difference because the number 1 issue was always “lost on price”, probably about 95% of the time, followed closely by “designed canceled” at 4% and “other” rounding it out at 1%. Sound familiar? It’s the old can’t get competitive pricing out of marketing ploy. Finally, when we implemented a CRM, I was able to define a list that the sales person had to select from a drop down and a text box for comments. The categories in the drop down allow for easy grouping during reporting and the text box allows for details of individual opportunities so I recommend having both available. Being the troublemaker I am, “lost due to pricing” was not available and was replaced by “I was not able to build the proper value at the customer”. You would be amazed how much better and well thought out the responses became. My sales managers were forced to admit their inability to build value or make the effort to understand why we lost. It also had the beneficial side effect of re-enforcing the concept of building value in everyone’s mind.
In another case, I worked for a large company that had a CRM solution to manage the sales process. When a big opportunity was declared a win there was a senior operations executive that called the sales person up and interviewed them about why they won. He then published a short success story to the entire organization. The info was captured in the CRM record and used to drive best practices to sales and the operations people who support them.
In my opinion, understanding why you lose is at least as important as why you win, as it presents real actionable data for improvement, at both the individual and organization levels. So take the time to setup a real loss evaluation system and start winning more.