Win/Loss? Anyone?

The results of the 2008 Product Management and Marketing survey by Pragmatic Marketing (whew that’s a mouthful), are now out.

Lots of good data to mull over, but like previous years, one very interesting data point stands out (to me).

Very few people are doing Win/Loss analysis.

On average, only 20% of Product Managers and Product Marketers stated they perform this activity. And this says nothing about the frequency or time spent on this. Check out the results from the last 2  years. Click on each image to enlarge.



So what’s going on folks?

Ask anyone and they’ll say that Win/Loss analysis is very important.

But no one is doing it?

Here’s a quick poll. Tell me why.

I’ll publish the results in a future post.




13 responses to “Win/Loss? Anyone?

  1. I challenge the number is way lower. This is ~20% of the people who are familiar (enough to stumble over the survey) with Pragmatic Marketing. These people at least know it is important… of the other ~75% of the market, it is probably closer to Zero %. My informal tracking, less than 1 in 10 do Win/Loss and of that 10% (and it is not 10%), half of them are not doing /tracking it for the right reasons. Again, this just supports your cry “what’s going on?” Product Managers are in trouble unless they step up and own this activity as part of the regular responsibilities. No time, I suggest you stop doing competitive analysis for one. Sorry, sore point for me. – Stewart

  2. Stewart,

    I would tend to agree with you. While 20% is a low number, empirically in my years as a PM, I’ve seen very few (far far less than 1 in 5) PMs and PMMs who perform Win/Loss.

    Also, in terms of the actual analysis, the time spent or level of analysis will vary. Thorough and regular analysis is a far different from a summary of the SFA/CRM data with a few follow up calls on an irregular basis.


  3. This is a pervasive problem in all organizations and it causes the creation of misaligned products, market messages and sales positioning. One of the symptoms is that marketers rely on “clever” marketing slogans for their campaigns (internally incubated based upon personal beliefs) rather than going through the trouble of validating, verifying or quantifying buyer-based beliefs. You know: Inside-out thinking. Another contributer to this mentality is that sales management really doesn’t want emperical evidence of its performance known. Now, to respond to your question, “What’s going on folks?” The foundation of this epidemic is that market-based research is being ignored by product and marketing management because it causes internal conflict and IT ISN’T EASY! It is easier to use your imagination than it is to understand a buyer’s needs, problems and perception. Also, management is not serious about market-based initiatives, so they rarely fund the necessary research or reward those that spend time validating real actionable data. Moreover, I believe that it is all systemically related. Marketing will rely on other internally built documents to construct their market messaging. As a result, misunderstood market requirements may be a by-product of the lowering quality of the MRD (Market Requirement Documents) built by the Product Managers. The MRD is usually not based upon anything other than a few qualitative discussions with clients (not prospects) to validate the internal beliefs of what is needed in the market. No trends, no metrics, no perception, no measurement, no ratings, and no performance. As such, this complacent epidemic has really become a corporate-wide culture.

    Of course, this corporate-wide dysfunction can be fixed by convincing management (not an easy task to raise its internal priority) to instill a discipline and commitment to buyer alignment. This is most successful when affixing an ROI (e.g., 15% increase in sales in 1-3 months, 12% improvement in quota attainment) and emphasizing solution-based selling. This is further clarified in my November 2008 Newsletter. The buyer alignment engine begins with Product Management driving the market-based research in order to understand market requirements and vendor sales cycle performance (latter topic always draws debate). Likewise, PM must understand the competitive differentiation of its products and train sales how to articulate and position that story. Through documentation of this training and new internal understanding, Product Marketing begins to use the common articulation regarding how its solution uniquely resolves buyer needs and problems. This process is non-discretionary for any market-driven initiative. Furthermore, it can only be accomplished by regularly scheduled client and non-client interviews that are structured to gather “actionable” results. (Also embedded and monitored into PM annual performance objectives) That means using weighted relevance, ratings and prioritization of prospect perception of a vendor’s attributes, positioning, sales cycle activities and solutions. This way, post-decision interview (win/loss analysis) data can be used as a performance barometer, differentiation validation and message verification. Not all organizations have the resources to commit to post-decision interviews and buyer understanding, so this function must be funded and outsourced to organizations who can extract, diagnose and align the organization with actionable buy-side results.

    Until executives commit to fulfiling the promise of buyer alignment by adopting cross-organizational market-driven initiatives (like win/loss analysis) Product Managers and Product Marketers will continue to gravitate to the point of least resistance or the easiest means to complete MRDs or marketing messages.

    Sorry for the long diatribe or thesis-sized response. However, I have been pushing the win/loss analysis banner up a hill for eight years. The good news is that more attention is being paid by executives open to any means to better align their sales cycle and products to prospective buyers and to improve sales and marketing performance. Tough times need tough measures.

  4. Nice to see Roger, an expert in win loss chime in. If you have not seen his webinar on win loss check it out at .

    We teach you must do win loss. However, for whatever reason this valuable exercise falls to the bottom of the list of 42 things to accomplish today.

    So if you are not doing win loss what are you doing to gain market feedback?

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  6. Roger, thanks for your detailed comment and no need to apologize for the length. Your comments are most welcome.

    Seems like a meaty topic for discussion. The poll is progressing and I’ll post some of the results soon.

    Wonder if there are any other topics like Win/Loss that we all know should be done but very few of us do.


  7. Since not a lot of PMs use the CRM system (and even sales managers have their doubts about the quality of the data), I’d be surprised if the number doing win/loss analysis would be high, unless PMs based the analysis on some other data source.

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  9. Thanks Saeed. I find that the topic that win/loss analysis rolls up into is Buyer Alignment. This is an organizational transformation topic regarding alignment of: Processes (Sales, Buyer Evaluation); Differentiation (Solution, Company) and Messaging (Internal, External). Why? Because 3 out of 4 organizations have failed to get the return from any of the many sales process trainings available because they did not invest into the Big 3 alignments, nor do they have an iterative process ensuring on-going alignment. Other symptoms of buyer misalignment are products that underwhelm, messages that don’t resonate and marketing frameworks that have never been fulfilled by the actions required. In order for Buyer Alignment initiatives to be successful, they must have commitment (resources and process) and discipline (training) of the cross-organizational tri-facto (Sales, Product and Marketing management). Then, managers will be measured and incented on their ability to connect and extract actionable intelligence from their buyers. To learn more, feel free to sign-up for my Jan 22nd Webinar, titled “Introduction of Buyer Alignment” by going to Always glad to have people attend who understand the issues.

    My 2 cents anyway!

  10. Tom, the CRM systems are great to tell you which deals are won or lost but that is about the extend of information you should pull from the CRM system. The Product Manager must do (or outsource to a 3rd party) the win/loss and should pick up the phone otherwise it is just rumour and opinion. I hope the Product Managers are not using the lack of access to a CRM system as an excuse. I know you know this but worth mentioning anyway. -Stewart

  11. Agree with Stewart here. Win/Loss is not simply running a report on the CRM system tabulating the reasons cited by sales. It’s more like a forensic investigation, where CRM data constitutes one input, but other information, both primary and secondary is used to piece together patterns and insight. From here, conclusions can be drawn regarding ways to improve wins and reduce losses.

    The fact that many people cited Sales as a barrier to this indicates to me that Sales does not understand the motives nor the value of this exercise. If they are defensive, they should understand that all parties, product management, marketing, sales, support, SEs, etc. can benefit.


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