Sales data is one of the most valuable ways to determine what is working and what isn’t in a company. One of the most overlooked pieces of data from the sales process is data surrounding deals that are lost. But as you might guess, there can be a significant amount of fear on the part of salespeople when it comes to sharing the details of why they lost a sale. What can be done to attain honest sales data for the sake of improvement?

Bernie’s guest on this episode of The Social Business Engine is Bill Sexton, Vice President of Sales Operations at Systemax. Bill will be presenting a session at the upcoming Frost & Sullivan STAR event on the topic of leveraging win/loss data. On this episode, Bernie and Bill discuss how to best capture and leverage your sales team’s wins and losses so that you can use the insights you discover to make business-critical decisions and give you an edge against your competition. The conversation includes advice for getting your marketing and sales teams aligned and how to get the sales team to cooperate, especially when it comes to providing insights into why a deal was lost.

Why Is Sales Data So Important To Have And So Powerful To Use?

Win/loss data is one of the most powerful pieces of data to use. It enables your team to make strategically informed decisions based on the data, about how to improve your process and close more deals. You can use it to accelerate sales and bring valuable insights to the product, marketing, and supply chain teams.

Data about sales wins provides insight into where the company is doing well. Those insights enable you to build best-practices into team training as well as pipelines and processes. Data from your sales losses obviously reveals areas where the team needs to improve.

But understand, loss data is not analyzed merely for the sake of fixing blame. More importantly, it’s used to fix problems, find gaps in your process, improve client communication, develop better resources, refine sales process, and even improve your products and services. Once you find the gaps, you’re able to fill them effectively with the right solutions.

Win/Loss Sales Data Is Reliant On Salespeople Reporting It. How Can We Get It?

The reporting of data about why a deal was won or lost is one of the aspects of the sales cycle that is most reliant on honest reporting of what happened in the process. At this point, that reporting still has to be done by human beings. Bernie asked Bill for the best methods of obtaining win/loss data when the people who need to share it may be afraid to do so. Bill shared some great advice.

First, bake win/loss reporting into the sales process. His recommendation is to require a drop-down type option within the quote/order process of your company. It should only have two options: A win – which results in an order being placed, or a loss – which requires multiple choice explanation as to why the deal was lost.

But there are situations where it’s not possible to bake the win/loss data into the process – such as when sales are made off-site by 3rd party vendors. In that case, Bill suggests the implementation of a mature pipeline management process that includes drop-down options with the opportunity to explain the details of each situation.

Follow-up can be done through a regular cadence of reviews, once a month for example. The purpose of the follow-ups is to look into the reasons behind the larger losses in more detail.

Sometimes You Need To Celebrate A Sales Loss

It sounds counterintuitive to celebrate a loss, but Bill says there are great things that come from doing so. First of all, celebrating losses in a way that enables the team to improve demonstrates that there are no punitive measures applied to those who share loss data. You can even champion those who honestly share and hold them up as examples to the rest of the team. This encourages everyone to become part of the solution, which makes future losses fewer and farther between.

Good analyzation of loss data also enables the team to gain strong insights from customers, salespeople, and customer service reps that can be delivered to the teams that need them: the solutions team, service team, product team, etc. This enables adjustments to be made to enable better performance in the future.

Some of the things that you can gain from inspecting sales losses are…

These give you a very clear picture of the biggest problems in your pipeline so you can make adjustments that have the largest impact.

Evaluating A Pattern Of Sales Wins Can Help You Implement New Things

Bill puts a significant focus on the evaluation of sales losses since they reveal so many helpful things, but he also encourages a thorough look at sales wins. When you do, you’re able to answer some important questions…

Be sure you take the time to listen to this insightful conversation. Bill shares many practical ways sales organizations can use the data behind sales wins and losses to improve systems, move the company forward, and close more sales in the future.

Outline of This Episode