Whether it’s drafting up case studies, researching white papers, or generating sales sheets, product marketers are continuously tapping into the voice of their customer. Understanding what the product or service is that you’re offering and who your target audience or customers are translates directly into how you take your product to market. Unfortunately, discovering and defining audience profiles and buyer personas is incredibly challenging and, in some industries where buying criteria are constantly shifting, requires a significant investment of time.
To address these challenges, product marketers have always relied on win/loss analysis: a qualitative discovery of why a visitor turned into a customer or why they moved on to a competitor. Today, to help product marketers approach this critical analysis, we’ll walk through five tips for conducting a productive and successful win/loss interview.
1. Be Proactive
For most companies, the primary focus of marketing and sales is to drive customer engagement that eventually leads to a purchase or conversion. Often times the focus can be so strong, especially within the B2B space, that opportunities to conduct win/loss interviews are completely overlooked—once a lead closes, it’s on to the next lead. This is where product marketers need to be proactive in soliciting the sales team for win/loss opportunities and helping set up meetings with new customers or lost opportunities. Start by creating reports and dashboards within your CRM tool or put a system in place so that you’re alerted by your sales team after recent wins or losses.
2. Be Timely
When setting up win/loss interviews, take into consideration the time that’s required for onboarding or training. Even after a successful sales cycle, new customers may need time before providing any form of valuable feedback. Too early an interview and the feedback might be minimal or premature. Too late an interview and the customer might focus on features and benefits or recent issues rather than the reason why they chose to purchase your products or services over your competitors’. For losses, schedule interviews immediately as interest and engagement wanes much quicker.
3. Ask For Candor
When conducting win/loss interviews, be explicit and request candid feedback. Remind interviewees that these analyses are used to improve the sales process, marketing programs, the product or service offerings, and the overall experience when customers and prospects engage with your brand. Furthermore, since product markers operate outside of the sales organization and the sales process, positive and negative comments can be bubbled up as general feedback rather than criticism about particular individuals.
4. Ask Critical Questions
Keep in mind that time is limited during these interviews. Always ask the critical questions:
- Describe your primary reason for considering our product or service.
- What other companies did you consider during the evaluation process?
- Describe your selection process.
- What were your decision criteria?
- What were the reasons for selecting the company you ultimately chose?
- Evaluate the sales process.
These foundational questions will enable you to not only dissect the strengths and weaknesses of your products and services, and your sales process, but also understand how your competitors are positioned around you. It’s likely that your products and services, along with your competitors’, were evaluated under the same light. Follow up on comments and feedback around competitors and push for additional information when engaging in that level of conversation.
5. Tangents Can Prove Insightful
Allow the critical questions above to be the freeways in your win/loss interviews, guiding you to the most impactful feedback. However, don’t be afraid to explore the side streets. Allow tangents throughout your interview to create conversation, which facilitates more candid feedback. Tangents also make interviews feel less like interrogations and more like discussions. More often than not, this can lead to more in-depth conversations over features and functions, and expose the key differences between you and your competitors. This knowledge is critical for generating kill-sheets and when prioritizing roadmap features with your product team.
Undoubtedly, the overall approach to win/loss interviews will vary depending on the industry your company is in (e.g. financial services, technology) and your business model (B2C, B2B). However, the impact of the knowledge collected in these discussions is invaluable to any company. By leveraging these five tips, product marketers can not only successfully build out audience profiles and buyer personas, but also equip their sales and marketing teams with the tools they need to drive better revenue outcomes.
Kye is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Marin Software. He joined Marin in early 2011 and has been in the online marketing industry since 2008. Prior to joining, he supported and actively managed paid search accounts and SEO efforts across multiple verticals and business models. Kye graduated UC Davis with a BS in Psychology and a minor in Economics. He is an avid San Francisco Giants fan and enjoys the company of friends, family and his dog, Kaiya.