The Agony of Defeat: Why Lost Business Reporting Isn’t Helpful

3 minute read

Do you get the Win-Loss report? You really ought to get yourself on that list. If you don’t know the Win-Loss, it’s the document your friends in sales create each month or, sometimes, each quarter that lists all the business they’ve won, lost or are waiting to hear about. Sometimes it’s called the sales activity report.

This is not to be confused with the top ten report B2B sales people feed to their Corporate Overlords. That report shows the top wins and losses by revenue. Now that’s all fine and dandy but really doesn’t help us down in the pit mines of marketing. We need a real view of what’s happening in sales.

Here are four reasons you really need to get your hands on the detailed sales activity reports:No Parking Ever Sorry

  1. They are a stunning example of contemporary fiction
  2. You can see what the squirrels are actually tracking
  3. You might understand a little bit about why you lose business
  4. You can totally understand why you win business

It seems fair to say that most people don’t really tell the truth about why they succeed or fail at work, and that there is a fairly robust creative writing workshop ongoing in all companies most of the time. Sales people, however, can elevate that to truly masterful storytelling when it comes to their results.

I don’t think I have ever heard a sales person credit their big win to an efficient lead nurturing process, a great brand, fabulous sales materials or even competitive pricing. The talk track on wins is almost always personal: how they built a fabulous relationship with the customer, how they smoothed over objections with a smile and a steak dinner, how they masterfully negotiated a perfect deal. You get the picture, and, to be fair, without all that personal stuff there would be very little business closed.

On the loss side, it becomes oddly impersonal. No sales person has ever lost a deal because they were personally offensive or failed to build a good relationship. No, they will tell you that the business was lost because the product sucks, the pricing is uncompetitive and the website is terrible. Also, if marketing had just coughed up a pair of hockey tickets, this would not have ended in tears.

I told you this was fun.

Fiction aside, I’m always interested to dive into the CRM or sales management system and have a look at the dispositioning codes the sales guys use for their deals. Typically, when a deal has run its course, the Sales Squirrel is required to close it out as won or lost and then assign a reason for the win or the loss from a handy drop down menu.

The handy drop down menu makes it lots of fun to sort the data and analyze it, and, in theory, keeps it all out of fiction territory. The reality is, though, that the drop downs are generally designed by, you guessed it, sales people. So the choices in Reason for Loss are usually something like Price, Product, Timing, Purchase Authority, Fit, Could Not Contact and, my very favourites, Other and None.

Guess which categories are the most popular for explaining lost deals? Most systems will require an explanation for picking Other, and this is where, of course, the whole analysis part of the equation goes to hell and the fairy tales show up.

You will note there are no pick list items for: Messed up the presentation, didn’t do my homework about the customer, Feature Puke, got cornered on a pricing question, couldn’t explain the value proposition or didn’t brush my teeth.

Sadly, this is probably the end of the road for you unless you are lucky enough to talk your way into the actual meeting where they go through each win and loss. Most good Squirrel Kings will not let their people get away with Other and None during a meeting, even if they let them ride on the official record. I would recommend you try very, very hard to get into these discussions because that’s where you will hear something approaching the truth about why some deals don’t close. And sometimes it will be your fault too.

A far more interesting discussion, however, is the fourth one. Why did you win the business? In this area, you will find a lot more truth and, in my view, more information you can actually use to improve your marketing.

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: The Agony of Defeat: Why Lost Business Reporting Isn’t Helpful

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