Win/Loss Analysis for Product Managers, Part 2

In part 1 of Win/Loss Analysis for Product Managers, we discussed what PMs should play in the win/loss process –  a uniquely objective voice who can benefit greatly from hearing how the product helped sway purchasing decisions. We also laid out the overall benefits of win/loss analysis and how to go about building a representative sample of customers.

Now, we’re laying out key questions to ask:

Key Questions to Ask During a Win-Loss Interview

1. Identify the Pain: What problem or pain were you trying to solve?

  • What to listen for: Does the problem that the customer / prospect described match with what you hear from Sales? Is it a problem that your product or service can solve?
  • Follow-up: Probe further if there is a disconnect.

 

2. Awareness: Why did you decide to consider our product / service?

  • What to listen for: How did they hear about your offering? Why did they think the offering could help them? Did someone recommend the offering to them?
  • Follow-up: Make a note if they are coming from a new or adjacent market, one not normally part of your sales pipeline. It could be an untapped opportunity.

 

3. Competition: Which other firms / products / services did you consider? Did you see it as a competitive process between them?

  • What to listen for: This is who the prospects considers to be your competition and how they define your market. Have they defined one of the markets you are pursuing? Are there any unusual competitors?
  • Follow-up: Look for trends in other interviews to understand if the offering is crossing into other market segments.

 

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4. Decision making process: Who was involved in making the decision? What were the selection criteria? Which criteria were most important to you? Least important?

  • What to listen for: What criteria are most important to them when making a decision, and who is driving that decision process? Is it based on how they are planning to use the product? Are the buying criteria aligned with the expected usage?
  • Follow-up: Sell to the buyer if that is who is leading the decision process.

 

5. Pitch / messaging: Did the sales pitch and proposal create a clear and compelling case for how our offering could meet your needs?

  • What to listen for: Did your messaging and value proposition match what the prospect was looking for? This is a great indicator of whether your messaging is a good match for a persona, and whether you correctly identified the right persona.
  • Follow-up: Refine product positioning or market segmentation

 

6. Capabilities: How well did our capabilities align with your needs and selection criteria? Where was it a fit? Where was it a miss?

  • What to listen for: Did they mention capabilities which your product has, thinking that the product did NOT have them? Was your product a mismatch from the start?
  • Follow-up: Refine product positioning or market segmentation, clearly match desired capabilities with those in the product. Identify early in the process when your product is column fodder, and do not over-invest trying to win the sale.

 

7. Strengths/weaknesses: How well did we compare with our competitors capabilities?

  • What to listen for: What are your product’s perceived strengths and weaknesses?
  • Follow-up: Refine product positioning or market segmentation, clearly match desired capabilities with those in the product

 

8. Pricing: Was the pricing a good reflection of the value of our product? Why or why not?

  • What to listen for: Did you do a good job of explaining why your offering is valuable, then pricing it in accordance with that value? Since the price sends a signal about the luxuriousness of an offering, setting a low price could be as damaging as over-charging. The price should also be aligned with the competition you are being compared with (within reason).
  • Follow-up: Understand the signal your price sets relative to its perceived value.

 

9. Buying decision: Why did / didn’t you decide to buy now?

  • What to listen for: “In B2B sales, you’re not just competing against rival companies; you’re also combating the dreaded “no decision,” writes Emma Brudner. “According to CSO Insights, approximately 22% of forecasted opportunities result in no decision. Understanding why a prospect did or didn’t buy can bring to light trigger events or deal-derailing problems that your team may not have been aware of.”
  • Follow-up: “Incorporate any new trigger events into your sales research process. Develop plans to proactively address and diffuse issues that could put off a decision.“

 

10. NPS:  On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this company’s product or service to a friend or a colleague? 

  • What to listen for: It’s the one question to give you a sense of their impression of your company and offering. And yes, while it’s often used with customers, it can also be used with the ones that got away.
  • Follow-up: Understand why you received a particular score, and look for ways to improve it.

 

11. Conclusion: Would you feel comfortable participating in a case study, testimonial or other publicity?   

  • What to listen for: Why or why not?
  • Follow-up: If yes, get the wheels in motion to make it happen!

 

12. Additional Comments: Is there a question you were expecting me to ask that I didn’t? Is there anything else I should have asked you about? Do you have any additional suggestions or comments?

  • What to listen for: What types of questions or suggestions do they have?
  • Follow-up: Amend your list of questions if there are recurring themes in these interviews.

 

If you are looking for even more questions, check out these great posts by Sue Duris, Emma Brudner, and Jeff Kalter.

Ultimately, you need to extract as much information – truthful information – to make the interview worthwhile. It’s particularly important that you probe for substantial answers rather than accept non- or vague ones.

As you accumulate more information and assess it, you will spot trends. And a decisive, incisive response to the trends will lead to better products and higher revenue.

In the end, win/loss analysis when done right turns every loss into a product win. 

 

 

About the Author

Steven Telio
Steven is a Product Management Consultant who specializes in defining and delivering stellar digital products. He has held senior level Product Management roles with a number of startups, including 4 which had successful exits. He has led projects in a variety of industries for organizations that include EMC, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Syngenta, Boeing, NASA, and Harvard Medical School, and began his career doing technical support for a medical device start-up, where he answered “patient-on-the-table” service calls from neurosurgeons.

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