For nearly a decade, Crayon has been helping people like you build excellent compete programs—programs that increase win rates and influence executive decision-making.
We decided to take everything we've learned over the years and condense it into a practical how-to guide: The 6 Levels of Compete Program Maturity (and How to Get to Level 6).
The 6 levels of maturity are as follows:
- Level 1: You have published a battlecard for at least one of your Tier 1 competitors.
- Level 2: You have published a battlecard for each of your Tier 1 competitors.
- Level 3: 25% of your sales reps use your battlecards at least once a month.
- Level 4: 50% of your sales reps use your battlecards at least once a month.
- Level 5: You report quantitative & qualitative win-loss findings once a quarter.
- Level 6: You use CI to help executive leaders make decisions.
If you're at Level 4, you're reading the right blog post.
How to advance from Level 4 to Level 5
You’ve built a library of battlecards that your sellers regularly use – now what? To advance to the next level of maturity, you must create a win/loss program and use the insights you uncover to (1) better enable sellers to win competitive deals and (2) inform marketing and product strategy. After two consecutive quarters of collecting both quantitative and qualitative win/loss data, you’ve made it to Level 5.
Note: Creating a win/loss program is a heavy lift, which is why many companies outsource it to the vendors listed in Crayon’s partner directory. If you have the budget to outsource and you decide that it’s the best option for you, feel free to skip to the next section. It may be useful, however, to read this section and learn the fundamentals of win/loss.
Step 1. Set a specific, measurable goal
Here are some good examples of win/loss program goals:
- Increase our win rate against our Tier 1 competitors
- Double our market share in EMEA
- Achieve 100% net dollar retention in our enterprise customer segment
Here are some bad examples:
- Win more deals
- Improve our product roadmap
- Reduce churn
What distinguishes the good examples from the bad examples is that the good examples are both specific AND measurable. Specificity ensures that you interview the right buyers (this is where the qualitative data comes from) and measurability ensures that you can objectively determine whether the win/loss program is working.
The goal of your win/loss program must directly align with your company’s priorities, so make sure to get input from your revenue, marketing, and product leaders. In fact, before you start doing the work of win/loss analysis (adding new CRM fields, interviewing buyers, etc.), each of these senior stakeholders should formally sign off on your goal – literally with their signatures. This will not only solidify your goal, but also make it easier for you to get things done.
Take your RevOps team, for example. As the masters of your CRM, they are critical to the success of your win/loss program. You need their help – no two ways about it. Now, if you were to go to them and say, “I need you to add this new field,” they may respond with, “We’ll try to get to that next quarter.” But if you instead say, “I need you to add this new field because our CRO wants better win/loss data,” they’ll be much more likely to act with urgency.
Step 2. Optimize CRM data
Once you have a specific, measurable, leadership-approved goal, the next step is making sure you have the CRM data you need to achieve that goal. Look at your goal and ask yourself, What questions do we need to answer in order to achieve this goal?
Say, for example, that your goal is to increase your win rate against your Tier 1 competitors. In that case, the questions you need to answer include:
- What percentage of our sales opportunities involve at least one Tier 1 competitor?
- What is our win rate in those opportunities?
- Is our win rate in those opportunities dependent on other variables like customer segment, geographical region, etc.?
- Why do we win some of those opportunities and lose others?
Create a list of the questions you need to answer and send it to your RevOps team. Ask them if they have the data to answer your questions. If they do, that’s great. If they don’t, then you will need them to make some changes to your CRM. Those changes will probably entail some combination of the following:
- Creating a competitor picklist field that your sellers are required to complete before moving an opportunity from one stage to the next
- Creating a loss reason picklist field that your sellers are required to complete before closing an opportunity (“Lost to competitor” must be one of the options in the picklist)
- Creating a secondary loss reason picklist field that your sellers are required to complete when they lose to a competitor (options in the picklist may include “functionality,” “price,” “politics,” etc.)
The day these changes are made official in your CRM, you must run a training session for the sales team – partially because they’ll need to learn how to use the new fields, but mostly because they’ll need to hear a very important message from your CRO: Do not be afraid to admit that you lost a deal to a competitor. The more honest you are about what happened in a certain opportunity, the more likely you’ll be to win the next one.
We can’t overstate how important it is for your CRO to send that message – and to reiterate it over time. If sellers are afraid to admit when they lose to competitors, your data will be inaccurate and, ultimately, your win/loss program will produce inaccurate insights.
Step 3. Interview buyers
After training your sales team on the CRM changes, you’ll need to wait a few months before moving on to the next step, which is interviewing buyers – because the data you capture over the course of that quarter will determine which buyers you contact for interviews. If your goal is to double market share in EMEA, then it wouldn’t make much sense to spend time interviewing buyers based in the United States.
Once you’ve determined the characteristics of the buyers you want to interview (e.g., EMEA-based buyers who evaluated at least one of your Tier 1 competitors), ask your RevOps team to pull a list. Send that list to your sellers, customer success managers, and account managers and ask them to identify any prospects/customers who they do NOT want you to interview. Make sure they provide rationale for crossing these buyers off your list. If a CSM wants you to stay away from a new customer because their implementation is going poorly, that’s valid – but if a seller wants you to stay from a certain prospect because they’re nervous you’ll somehow ruin the relationship, that’s probably not valid.
Got a list of buyers that have been approved by your customer-facing teams? Great. Time to start scheduling some interviews. Each quarter, you should aim to interview 5-10 buyers, give or take a few depending on the volume of opportunities in your sales pipeline. A good rule of thumb is that roughly 10% of the buyers you contact will agree to an interview – so you should reach out to 50-100 buyers each quarter.
A common misconception is that buyers will only agree to interviews if you offer them incentives (cash, gift cards, etc.). That’s not true. Some buyers will be happy to talk to you simply because they want to share their experiences and voice their opinions. If you cast a wide enough net and position the interview as an opportunity to influence your company’s strategy, you shouldn’t have much trouble getting on the phone with 5-10 buyers.
That said, there are some tactical things you should do to maximize your response rate:
- Ask CSMs to introduce you to customers and sellers to introduce you to prospects. Your potential interviewees are more likely to respond when the conversation is started by someone they know and trust.
- Ask buyers for 30 minutes – they’re too busy for anything more than that.
Here are some tips to help you get as much value as possible out of each interview:
- Get permission to record. Turn each recording into a transcript using a tool like Otter.
- Ask open-ended questions – nothing that can be answered with “yes,” “no,” or a number between 1 and 10. Rather than asking “Did you enjoy the sales experience?”, ask “Can you talk to me about the sales experience?”.
- Phrase each question in a way that makes it easy for the buyer to answer. Rather than asking “Why did you choose our solution?”, ask “How did you arrive at the decision to choose our solution?”. The latter question will give you the information you’re looking for without forcing the buyer to think too hard.
Step 4. Discuss findings with stakeholders
After each interview, listen back to the recording and take notes. What problems was the buyer trying to solve with this purchase? What were their solution criteria? What criteria did your solution meet? What criteria did it miss? How about your competitors’ solutions? Were there any other factors that influenced their decision?
Once you’ve completed your desired number of interviews and taken notes on each one, distill your notes down to key takeaways. Send those takeaways – along with the recording and transcript of each interview – to your senior stakeholders (revenue, marketing, product) and schedule time for a meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss your findings and brainstorm strategic improvements that will help you achieve the goal of your program. How can you improve your sales process? Your messaging? Your product roadmap?
Step 5. Apply findings to sales enablement strategy
Finally, make sure to apply what you’ve learned about your buyers and competitors to your sales enablement strategy. Revisit your battlecards and take an extra hard look at the Why We Win and Quick Dismiss sections. Is there a reason why you win that you weren’t previously aware of? A competitor weakness that you could try to exploit more aggressively? A false competitor claim that does more damage than you’d realized?
As you go through this process each quarter, you’ll likely end up making multiple updates to multiple battlecards – which can throw a wrench in your usual communication cadence. How do you make sure everything gets the attention it deserves? Consider announcing the updates one battlecard at a time (starting with your fiercest competitor), with the announcements broken up by a few days. Each announcement should include a video where you show the battlecard and walk through each change. Once you’ve made every announcement you need to make, join a sales team meeting live and present a quick overarching recap of everything that’s changed.
How to advance to Level 6
Want to learn how to build the best compete program possible? Download The 6 Levels of Compete Program Maturity (and How to Get to Level 6) today.
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