Clear Thinking

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Win-loss interviews

 October 17, 2017
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 add—draft open-ended questions that invite a candid assessment of your performance. For example: How well did SellerCo demonstrate it understood your requirements?

Limit your questions to four per area, to allow time for follow-up questions. 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 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, use a neutral tone of voice 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 

 

 


  

 

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