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Win-loss review analyses

 June 25, 2019
by Paul Heron

Recent posts have focused on setting up a bid win-loss review process, conducting bid win-loss interviews and reporting on bid win-loss reviews.

Companies conducting large numbers of reviews per year should also consider using win-loss analyses to aggregate review data to see performance patterns and trends. This post will show you how to get started.

Create headers

  • Brainstorm all the parameters against which you might want to analyze results. Examples of common header items include:
  • Bid review tracking number (if used)
  • Bid/No bid decision score (if known)
  • Result (win or loss)
  • Winner
  • Incumbent (use a code for each key competitor)
  • Product category
  • Sales territory
  • Client type (e.g. by industrial category)
  • Pre-RFP sales contact
  • Degree to which you were able to shape the RFP
  • Prospect is/is not a current client

NOTE: The headers you choose will determine the ways you can sort bid results to see what’s happening. Selecting header items is an important step with long-term consequences. While you can always add new headers later, you will only be able to use those new items to analyze future bids—unless you go back and reconstruct historical header data.

Now, add placeholders for the header items to your review format, so you collect all header items each time you perform a review. Assign a code to each header item, using letters or numbers.

Add quantitative questions to each section

For each of the interview areas (refer to our earlier post on win-loss reviews), add a question that can be scored numerically. For example, to the questions on responsiveness, add the following (or a similar) question:

  •  “Overall, on a scale of 1 to 5, how well did XYZ Co. demonstrate it understood your needs?”

You can also ask:

  • IF A WIN: “Again on a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rank the next closest bidder on responsiveness?”
  • IF A LOSS: “Again on a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rank the winning bidder on responsiveness?”

To obtain high quality responses, ask your quantitative questions at the end of each section, rather than grouping them as a separate set of questions.

Assemble the review data and analyze

Input the header information and quantitative responses to a database or Excel spreadsheet. Over time you will be able to answer questions such as:

  • How does pre-RFP sales contact affect our win rate?
  • What is our responsiveness score on winning bids vs. losses?
  • Does our loss rate as incumbent vary by territory?

Of course, the headers you assign and the questions you ask will depend on your specific business.


Need help understanding your bid performance?

Contact Complex2Clear



Photo credit

Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 




Win-loss review reporting

 June 18, 2019
by Paul Heron

Last week we posted on how to plan and conduct win-loss interviews. This week, we’ll look at reporting the feedback.

Aim to write a brief, plain language report likely to get read by senior managers and executives. Structuring, formatting and writing for reader friendliness are especially important if you report on two or more win-loss reviews per month.

Develop a report format

Build your report around the interview guide. Set out each question in bold face or italics, followed by a summary of the interviewee’s response. Keep these summaries very concise for all but prospect comments significant to the outcome. 

Wherever possible, include direct quotes. Many senior executives have little direct client contact and are eager for any chance to hear the “voice of the customer.” Direct quotes that align with the response summaries and that “ring true” (that is, actually sound like a person speaking) will help your reports get attention and action.

Open with a summary

Begin each report with an overall summary of the interview. Explain in one or two short paragraphs why you won or lost the opportunity. Lead with the most important point.

Busy reviewers may only read the summary. Therefore, follow the opening paragraph(s) with three to five bullet points taken from responses that support your summary. Include the question reference for each bullet point, in case the reader wants to investigate further.

Take care to ensure your summary is balanced—that it accurately reflects the prospect’s overall message and doesn’t give undue weight to some aspect that may have impressed you or the interviewer.

Decide whether to include internal interview findings

Some companies include a brief section highlighting any disconnects between the internal team’s analysis of a bid loss and the prospect’s feedback. Decide as a team whether this should be part of the report or documented separately as part of a sales discovery and process improvement project.

Next step: Win-loss analyses

Win-loss reviews focus on individual bid opportunities; win-loss analyses reveal patterns and trends in bid wins. Next week we’ll look at how to structure and manage win-loss reviews to enable analysis.

Next week: How to conduct a win-loss analysis



Need help learning from your wins and losses?

Contact Complex2Clear

Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 




Win-loss interviews

 June 11, 2019
by Paul Heron

Last week’s post introduced win-loss reviews and suggested question categories. This post covers planning and conducting the interviews.

Develop an interview guide

For each category (responsiveness, process, etc.) described in last week’s post—and any others you've added—draft open-ended questions that invite a candid assessment of your performance. For example: Instead of asking “Did SellerCo show it understood your requirements?” ask, “Compared to other respondents, how well did SellerCo demonstrate it understood your requirements?” The first version asks for a yes or no response, while the second invites the interviewee to provide a ranking and allows for a follow up question, such as, “What did higher-ranked respondents do to earn additional evaluation points?”

Limit your questions to four per area, to allow time for follow-up questions as above. Including too many questions results in rushed, perfunctory interviews. What you want is a thoughtful exchange that produces deeper insights.

Circulate the guide and get buy-in from your bid team and management.

Conduct internal and external interviews

  • Internal interviews: Internal interviews provide insights that make the prospect interview(s) more productive. They also indicate how accurately your team assesses its client relationship and understands the client's needs.

Interview the proposal manager and relationship manager and document their responses to each of your questions. They won’t have the same information as the prospect (see below)—but will provide an internal baseline for comparison.

  • Prospect interview(s): Make appointments with the bid issuer’s decision-maker(s). Request a number and time to call and provide an estimate of the time required. We’ve found a reasonable duration is 45-60 minutes. Emphasize that this is business improvement exercise—not a sales call or an effort to revisit the bid decision. Most issuers recognize they have a responsibility—and that it’s in their interests—to help vendors improve. If a prospect flat-out refuses your win-loss interview requests, consider whether it’s worth continuing to bid.

Note: Some issuers have their own disclosure process. If it doesn’t address your information needs, request a separate interview to gather missing information.

Remain neutral, capture quotes

When conducting external interviews, speak in a neutral tone and refer to your company by name, rather than using “we,” “us” and “our.” This matter-of-fact approach will put interviewees at ease and produce better quality information.

Capture responses as much as possible in the interviewee’s own words. Using direct quotes in your report will give it much more impact and credibility among your company’s leadership.

Consider using a third party

Companies with high bid volumes often use third parties, such as Complex2Clear, to conduct and report on win-loss interviews. A third-party interviewer removes any decision-maker reluctance to be candid. Internally, using an unbiased outside contractor may give the results more credibility.

Next week: Win-loss reports and analyses


Need help improving your review and analysis of wins and losses?

Contact Complex2Clear




Photo credit

Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 




Win-loss reviews

 June 4, 2019
by Paul Heron

Given the effort an RFP response takes, it only makes sense to investigate the outcome. This is especially true if you frequently bid on the same or similar services. Formal win-loss reviews are the key to understanding why you win or lose bids—and how to improve your future results.

A robust win-loss review process starts with a comprehensive set of questions.

Address all aspects of the bid

Segment your process to include questions on:

  • Relationship: How deep and wide are your prospect relationships? How effective was your team’s pre-RFP engagement? If the prospect is a current client, which aspects of your current relationship are strongest and weakest?
  • Process: How did your team handle the bid response? Was the solution responsive to the issuer’s strategic drivers and hot button issues? Was your proposal visually appealing and easy to read and understand?
  • Value proposition: How did your offering stack up against the competition? Was it well aligned with the requirements? Did you prove your team could deliver the solution? Were value-added components seen as responsive and well defined?
  • Positioning: In which aspects was your offer superior? Where did competitors score higher? How does the issuer see your company, team and ability to perform relative to your main competitors? How does your relationship compare to other bidders’ relationships?
  • Price: Was your pricing clearly presented? How did your price compare with other bidders? Did other bidders offer bundles or plans that affected the decision? How much higher (or lower) was your price than the successful (or closest competitor)?

Customize and refine your questions

Make your questions as specific as possible and tailor them to suit your business. For example, RFPs in some industries typically include pricing tables for completion. This will affect how you structure questions on price.

Test the questions internally and refine them until they are complete and clear.

Next steps

Once you’re satisfied with your questions, the next step is to plan and execute successful interviews. We’ll explore how to do this in next week’s post.

Next week: Conducting win-loss interviews



Need help building an effective win-loss review process?

Contact Complex2Clear



Photo credit

Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 





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