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This is the second part of a two-part article about using win/loss analysis to bolster revenue. In the first article, we explained that win/loss analysis is something any company can do to gain clarity and insights into customers' perceptions of its product, experience throughout the sales cycle, and expectations created by company messaging.

Part 1 of the series examined the purpose, definition, and metric associated with win/loss analysis. This final part discusses getting started, questions to include in the discussion, when and how to conduct the analysis, and using the findings.

Getting Started

One of the first decisions to make is whether to conduct the analysis yourself or use a third party. Relying on an outside organization is a good idea because it allows for more candid and detailed responses. Often, companies have Sales or Marketing perform the win/loss analysis; that approach can result in skewed data.

We have found that when a company itself asks win/loss-related questions to customers and prospects, the responses are surface level only, citing reasons such as price, feature set, or lack of budget.

It takes an experienced interviewer to glean the underlying reasons for customers' and prospects decisions; moreover, it then takes proper analysis to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your competition (beyond their product) and the patterns that you can use for setting strategic and tactical direction on sales; marketing; and product-development hiring, training, and management.

While using an outside party may appear more expensive, the benefits outweigh the cost. Prospects and customers tend to be willing to openly speak with a third party who is expected to protect the individual's confidentiality. Third parties don't have a vested interest in a particular answer; their goal is to seek the truth. As a result, they bring the perception of objectivity to the process. An additional benefit is that an experienced third party brings expertise, including framing the questions, analyzing the results, and identifying the patterns that will affect key decisions.

Questions to Include in the Discussion

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image of Laura Patterson

Laura Patterson is president and founder of VisionEdge Marketing. For 20+ years, she has been helping CEOs and marketing executives at companies such as Cisco, Elsevier, ING, Intel, Kennametal, and Southwest Airlines prove and improve the value of marketing. Her most recent book is Metrics in Action: Creating a Performance-Driven Marketing Organization.

Twitter: @LauraVEM