How To Boost Sales, Win or Lose
Written by Jouko Virtanen
Conducting regular win/loss debriefs is critical in a climate where competition is growing by the quarter.
Such customer intelligence helps you gain a more realistic and accurate view of your company’s market positioning so you can identify key success factors and your value proposition. What’s more, the analysis can yield important information for your entire organization.
How to improve on sales force presentations and product demonstrations, follow up
Marketing and promotions
How to improve on target market segmentation, value proposition, sales tools and marketing collateral, identifying the right customer profiles, trends or markets to address
How to fill in some gaps in competitive intelligence, monitoring the market
How to improve on product or service features, functions, benefits, enhancements, R&D
How to price the product or service
How to address customer perceptions and reputation of the company brand or product brands
Legal and compliance
How to finetune terms and conditions, awareness of impact of regulations in different countries
A company that conducts win/loss analysis regularly demonstrates that it is investing the time and effort to serve their customers better, particularly when they use professional consultants to do so. This helps with sales and marketing efforts that are targeted at the same customers in future.
But what should any CEO or CMO ensure is being doing during the process? Here are five important reminders.
1) Conduct interviews for both wins and losses
It may be tempting to simply interview prospects and customers that chose to commission your competitor over your company. There is also much to be learnt from speaking to customers who choose your company. Use such findings to validate or re-evaluate what lost customers tell you.
2) Move quickly
It is critical that win/loss interviews be set up within two to three weeks from the time a deal is closed, so that things are still fresh in the customer’s mind. The faster a company sets up win/loss interviews, the sooner the analysis can be disseminated quickly and efficiently. As such, the lessons learnt can be applied to the ongoing sales and marketing processes sooner rather than later. Where appropriate, sales and marketing “battle cards”, legal terms or pricing strategies may need to be reviewed.
3) Use the best sources
Ensure that the interviewer speaks with the right persons within the customer organization, as well as other relevant internal stakeholders. Several people may be involved in the deal decision process and speaking with anyone who is not familiar with all aspects of the decision will result in lost time, and possibly false conclusions.
At times, it may be beneficial to even monitor and analyze external information from other sources; such as blogs, forums or press releases from competitors and the company's prospects. You can also mobilize external resources and networks such as industry experts, business partners and suppliers to gather feedback.
4) Ask the “other questions”
Always start interviews with open questions, so that interviewees can express issues or impressions spontaneously. Open-ended questions can lead to issues beyond the scope of the contract. Examples include how the prospect discovered your company, what references they used, their perceptions of your product displays, the importance of what is being said in social media about your company or the influence of third party product or service rankings etc.
Don't simply ask why your company won or lost the contract. It’s very helpful to also ask how the competition performed. Find out where the company is heading and identify future business opportunities.
5) Make it practical and actionable
Win/loss analysis provides valuable insights but these insights need to be turned into actionable steps before they are truly useful.
Customize your deliverables and follow-up procedures to cater to different targeted teams. Each function should receive information and feedback on their own field of activity and the next steps that are most likely to drive some concrete improvements. And be sure to share best practices across departments, offices, outlets, distribution networks and even markets.
Finally, remember to set and monitor internal key performance indicators (KPIs) and assess your progress periodically. This is a great way to ensure optimal efficiency of the process and can be used to demonstrate the positive impact of the win/loss analysis, such as increased win rates, more positive responses from clients, more product or service offers, improved reputation etc..
It should also motivate a company's staff to participate in the process and even possibly, clients to contribute through the communication of relevant targeted KPIs that are of interest for them.
About the Author: Jouko Virtanen is President for North America at Global Intelligence Alliance, a strategic market intelligence and advisory group with offices in Chicago, New York and Miami. He can be reached at [email protected].
Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda
New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.
According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.
And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.
Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.
Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax
Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.
According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”
Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models
Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.
Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected
in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.
"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."
Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities
Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.
At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”
Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting
Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.
Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact
Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements
Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.