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Guest Post: We Need Win/Loss Insights Even More During an Economic Downturn

This is a Crayon guest post from one of our partners, Goldpan. Visit the Crayon Partner Directory to learn more!

Win/loss analysis isn’t a nice-to-have. Understanding your buyers and prospects is even more vital during periods of economic downturn.

With current economic uncertainty, Technology HR leaders are telling Goldpan that they are seeing significant layoffs both within their companies and their broader networks. In addition to layoffs, companies are also cutting what they see as non-core spending. 

However, many technology companies still see research as an important spend category.  The companies we surveyed are cutting travel, entertainment, and training before they are reducing their spend on research.

Why is this, especially when investors want to prioritize the bottom line? 

In downturns, company leadership may choose to reduce “non-essential” spend, which often equates to only keeping activities that either create immediate revenue or bolster near-term operational deliverables. 

As expected, we also heard that people are being asked to do more with limited resources.  Perhaps this means not traveling to visit a prospect or perhaps this means doing fewer design iterations on campaigns or on product.

Yet win/loss research, including prospect interviews conducted by third parties, is still being prioritized. We think there’s a logical reason. In downturns, more than ever, companies need to prove that they can still win deals. 

Investor confidence, employee confidence and customer confidence depend on remaining robust. Qualitative win/loss analysis (ie. prospect interviews) provides a quick return on investment that sales teams and content marketing teams have come to rely upon. It’s seen as a critical tool to increase a company’s chances of both getting a seat at the table and getting a deal over the finish line.

Many companies see qualitative win/loss insights as core to helping them weather the downturn

Win/loss analysis gives sales, marketing, and even product teams key insights that help companies close more deals.  By talking to current prospects and newly won customers, companies better understand what their prospects both need and need to hear. 

Is the product roadmap as important as pricing? What do prospects need to see in a demo? Is the product messaging landing? If so, what parts? Which competitors are prospects considering? More importantly, why?

Win/Loss insights can be gathered quickly, sometimes in less than two weeks. And if agile, can be incorporated into sales and marketing motions very quickly thereafter.  If one of the secrets in a downturn is agility, win/loss analysis helps sales teams remain agile, allowing them to adapt to rapidly changing buyer objectives.

During a downturn, there is a significant cost when operating with less than full information. A few potential scenarios include:

  • Burning cycles using messaging that falls flat
  • Not matching or beating key competitor’s offers
  • Prioritizing messages that focus on undervalued elements of your product

Ultimately, less robust information leads to lower conversion rates. The reason that win/loss has such quick ROI is because the start-up motions are not overly complex. That said, while it may not be rocket science, there is some heavy lifting involved. 

The group tasked with win/loss needs to: 

  • Determine the themes that need exploring
  • Craft an interview script
  • Solicit and schedule buyer’s time
  • Incent buyers to participate
  • Record and transcribe prospect interviews
  • Gather themes and trends from interviews
  • Present key insights in a digestible format to key stakeholders

Some companies believe that it might be enough to simply analyze win/loss reason codes from their sales funnel. Sure, one gets a picture of what happened. But reason codes don’t tell “the why”, which makes it next to impossible to craft response strategies. How frustrating is it to know who you’re losing to, while not knowing why you’re getting beat?

Win/loss surveys are certainly helpful and can start to uncover some of the why. But the depth of information remains shallow, yielding less robust sales strategies. At Goldpan, we typically recommend that surveys be used in tandem with qualitative interviews, sometimes in order to flesh out very specific themes uncovered when talking with prospects.

The selling landscape is currently more complex. Goldpan clients and the broader market are telling us that understanding your buyers and prospects is even more vital during periods of economic downturn. Qualitative Win/Loss analysis is a quick, high-ROI tool that highly successful companies are currently deploying.

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Matthew Reeves
Matthew is the co-founder of Goldpan — a buyer research company that specializes in conducting win/loss, churn, and buyer experience interviews. Matthew has interviewed hundreds of buyers to find out why they buy from tech firms (and why they don't). Basically, he helps product marketers figure out what’s being said behind their backs. Matthew talks about how to incorporate buyer research into Product Marketing.