There are two ways to boost your B2B sales win-rate. The most obvious is to win more deals. The most important is to calculate your win rate properly. You already have the tools, assuming you’re using some kind of CRM to manage your sales cycle. I’ll reference Salesforce here, but you can implement these changes in any enterprise-level CRM. That will be the easy part; convincing your sales reps that it’s worth their time and effort, will…not be as easy.
Some customization of your CRM’s standard objects will let you track and manage your win-loss data more efficiently. For example, build a custom object in Salesforce and link it to Opportunities to capture intel on who you come up against most often and at what stage you win or lose against them. This intel will be valuable for planning pitches, demos, product features and even account allocation.
Customize field names and options to reflect your corporate lexicon and process. Out-of-the-box Opportunity Stage options may not be the ones used in your organization. For example, if you say On-site Discovery instead of Needs Analysis, change it. Success probability percentages associated with each stage are also built in and should be changed to match your own statistics. Do everything you can to make data collection and reporting an extension of what happens in the real world.
Valuable anecdotal evidence gets lost if not recorded soon after it’s collected. A sales rep walking out of a pitch meeting is prime to mine. Make it easy for them to close deals in the system and record that data. Whether by carrot or stick, your job is to capture it as quickly as possible. Automate surveys to every team member who touched the deal, build mobile access to your win-loss collection tool or give an award for ‘Most Insightful Sales Rep’—whatever you do, just get the intel when it’s fresh.
The quickest way to boost your B2B sales win-rate is to remove all the dead deals from the calculation. The two default options for closing an Opportunity (Won or Lost) aren’t enough. Add a Closed Dead Deal option to catch the ones that fade due to loss of champion or budget re-allocation. Your calculation will get an immediate lift. It can also provide intel on market trends: Are budgets shrinking? Are roles changing in the buyer journey?
Setting an Opportunity to Closed Lost should force input in several more fields. The pre-populated options in the Salesforce Loss Reason field are generic: None, Lost to Competitor, No Budget/Lost Funding, No Decision/Non-Responsive, Price, and Other. Digging deeper here will provide meaningful insights for every team and gives you specific areas to change in the future. Add options such as Loss of Champion, Feature Set, Technical Incompatibility, Time to Implement to capture more detailed insights.
Whether you record a win, a loss or an undecided, you’ll want to know who the players are. Require input on a competitor drop down field. Offer an Other option, in case it’s unknown. If a sales rep consistently doesn’t know who they lost to, this might be an opportunity to refresh your sales training. One company we work with required sales reps to ask “who else are you considering” at each stage of the deal. They immediately began to understand not just who was beating them, but exactly when and where in the process. Without that granularity, it’s easy to blame late-stage selling tactics and consequently misallocate resources.
Once you know where you are, you can determine where you want to go. Setting targets in a vacuum is kind of like throwing darts after a few drinks—pointless and a little dangerous. Set a reasonably ambitious goal and build it into regular reporting to eliminate any ambiguity about performance measurement standards.
I’ve never met a sale rep who didn’t want to know the score. An accurate win-rate is a powerful tool for motivation, product positioning, go-to-market strategy, buyer journey insights, sales enablement and training. Digging deeper on sales cycle and competitor trends will give you quantitative proof of exactly what you need to do to win.
“Every soldier is a sensor”, is a military axiom that translates well to sales and competitive intelligence collection. Sales reps are your frontline. They collect what is often the first intel on new competitors and trends. They are your most powerful weapon. Make it easy for them to collect and report what they learn. Use their feedback. Boost your win-rate.