Four Best Practices for How Your Organization Can Process Its Win/Loss Research Data
AT A GLANCE
BeyondTrust is the result of the combination of four previously separate vendors: Avecto, BeyondTrust, Bomgar and Lieberman Software. Bringing these companies together translated into an overwhelmingly vast portfolio of products that the product management team did not have knowledge of or much experience with. To address this challenge, BeyondTrust decided to partner with DoubleCheck to run its win/loss program.
How does BeyondTrust's product management team leverage win/loss insights to influence product development, engineering, packaging, pricing, messaging and its competitive intelligence strategy?
A Model for Change
The strategic agenda for leveraging BeyondTrust’s win/loss insights comprises four key components:
- Sharing win/loss insights regularly and alerting relevant individuals or groups on time-sensitive elements.
Disseminating full reports to individual product teams, product marketing teams, sales enablement, and executive leadership.
Creating synopses of win/loss reports for consumption by sales employees and solution engineers to understand why a deal was won or lost.
Scheduling regular calls with the entire product team to discuss new win/loss reports.
“Win/loss would be useful for anyone. As software and markets move faster and faster, it’s getting more and more vital to find answers early on to any issues you’re experiencing, rather than finding these answers out six months or 12 months down the line. At that point, you’re so far behind that there’s no catching up.”
BeyondTrust is a leading cybersecurity software vendor, focused on the privileged access management (PAM) market, whose product management team has been working with DoubleCheck for eight months.
We recently talked with Chris Herrin, product manager at BeyondTrust, about how the organization uses and benefits from win/loss insights and what led the company to embark on the program.
Today’s BeyondTrust is the result of the 2018 combination of four previously separate vendors: Avecto, BeyondTrust, Bomgar, and Lieberman Software.
“After the companies were brought together, we then had a portfolio that was vastly larger than we had before, and products that we didn’t have tribal knowledge on or as much experience with,” Herrin said. “What we saw was a unique opportunity to start the win/loss program with DoubleCheck.”
At BeyondTrust, Herrin’s product management team owns the win/loss program due to the team’s broad range of responsibilities, which include product development, engineering, and roadmaps; pricing, packaging, and messaging; competitive intelligence; third-party integrations and alliances; and customer renewals and churn analysis.
How to Disseminate Win/Loss Insights
Here are four best practices for how BeyondTrust processes the win/loss research data it receives from DoubleCheck:
Share time-sensitive insights as soon as possible. Typically, Herrin shares win/loss insights from DoubleCheck internally in batches of three to five reports, often grouping together reports on a particular BeyondTrust product line. When warranted, he’ll alert the relevant individuals or groups immediately should he read a report containing a time-sensitive element, such as a potential additional sales opportunity with a win or the possibility of re-engaging with a loss.
Disseminate reports to the most relevant audience. Herrin shares the full win/loss reports with the product management team responsible for the evaluated BeyondTrust product. He also shares the unedited reports with the sales enablement and product marketing teams, as well as with BeyondTrust’s executive leadership team (ELT), which includes all C-suite executives and four board members.
Create win/loss synopses for sales. The BeyondTrust sales enablement team creates a synopsis of each win/loss report for consumption by sales reps and solutions engineers (SEs). These synopses provide a quick and easy reference point for those groups on why deals were won or lost, since sales reps and SEs may not have the time to read through multi-page reports. However, both groups are also provided with the reports later on after the research has been reviewed by product management and the ELT.
“We don’t operate with the idea that win/loss research needs to be siphoned and controlled,” Herrin said. “We’re a very open organization, and the feedback is especially valuable on the front lines when sales employees are in competitive situations.”
Hold regularly scheduled calls to discuss win/loss findings. Within product management, individual product teams will discuss new win/loss reports during their regular weekly meetings. There is also a monthly call for the entire product team that examines the high-level insights from the win/loss research and digs into any areas of concern highlighted by BeyondTrust’s chief product officer.
A Sales Improvement Opportunity
Here are three major examples of how BeyondTrust uses the win/loss data provided by DoubleCheck:
Treat customer feedback as an opportunity for sales improvement. Herrin stressed the importance of positioning win/loss insight as beneficial feedback for sales teams, even when its tenor is less than positive. BeyondTrust edits out that kind of criticism from a report before sending it to the broader sales and SE teams.
“It’s about having a conversation with the sales rep on how they go about engaging with customers, not taking negative action against the rep themselves,” Herrin said. “This is a learning moment for the rep and a personal improvement opportunity for them.”
Make onboarding of sales reps easier. BeyondTrust operates in the technologically complex PAM software market, which means that onboarding new sales reps can be a challenging and time-consuming process. Not only do sales reps have a lot to learn about specific product capabilities and the PAM arena in general, but customers may look to them early on in the sales cycle for education on the technology, either because it’s new to them or they might not have looked at the market for several years. BeyondTrust uses the customer feedback provided by DoubleCheck to highlight where training is needed for new sales reps to improve their efficacy.
Better prepare sales reps for customer engagements. According to Herrin, the win/loss reports give sales reps what they’re always clamoring for: insight from customers into how competitors position their own offerings against those of BeyondTrust. The goal is for BeyondTrust sales reps to go into customer engagements prepared with well-thought-out counter-responses to what rival sales teams may be telling customers.
“It’s always a battle for the customer’s mind,” Herrin said. “What these reports have enabled our sales reps to do is get more information on what the competitors are pushing on—the weakest points in our walls, so to speak. And maybe we need to lead with and address those issues in the forefront of our conversation with customers.”
Gain Extra Confidence from Win/Loss Insights
Here are four types of major benefits BeyondTrust is already realizing from the insights contained in the win/loss research data from DoubleCheck:
Directly influence product functionality, packaging, and price. BeyondTrust’s product team discusses win/loss feedback on product functionality and pricing at length. Those insights directly impact BeyondTrust’s near-, medium-, and long-term planning for product roadmaps and packaging. For instance, the feedback resulted in the team shifting certain product features up the priority list, and reconsidering the functionality mix between different products, as well as the packaging and pricing of line items.
“Bringing four companies together, you end up with four different historic methods of pricing, packaging, and messaging,” Herrin said. “What we learned from win/loss was direct feedback regarding the points in our pricing model that could prove complicated. This insight provided us with details on how we might improve this model and bring our customers a simpler, more flexible pricing model.”
Reveal additional competitive insight. Herrin finds win/loss feedback on competitors’ sales or business processes to be especially useful to help his team gain more competitive analysis insight. For example, one loss report drew attention to the positive influence on a deal of a competitor’s strong regional presence due to a local partner. Thanks to that insight, BeyondTrust took action to address the issue in that particular geography.
Improve competitive proof of concept (PoC) close rates. By using the win/loss insights from DoubleCheck, BeyondTrust has strengthened and focused the competitive battle cards and other content it provides to sales reps. Armed with this information, sales reps are better equipped to pinpoint the specific strengths they need to bring up early on in conversations with customers before and during competitive PoCs, as well as address solutions or workarounds for any perceived product weaknesses.
“What we’ve seen is a definitive marked improvement in our competitive PoC close rate since the start of the win/loss program,” Herrin said. “We’re understanding these products better to empower the sales reps to have confidence in what they’re selling. Anyone who knows sales—and I’ve been in sales myself—knows that if you have confidence in what you’re selling, then it makes a hell of a lot of difference.”
Provides key evidence to support a shift in product strategy. BeyondTrust was already working on moving its products to be more cloud-ready and cloud-native. The win/loss insight on customer requirements for cloud software, even for larger organizations, bolstered existing internal arguments of the need to move quickly ahead.
“The win/loss insights enabled us to begin planning the internal investment strategy, especially when it comes to the future of the cloud market,” Herrin said. “So, win/loss has even shifted our company-wide or portfolio-wide strategy as we come to market.”
Win/Loss for Every Organization
Herrin is now working to align win/loss with other departments at BeyondTrust, including marketing. He’s also adding churn analysis to the program to dig into the reasons behind customer attrition and to highlight issues not only with sales, but also with customer success.
“It seems so obvious when you say it out loud, but you think you understand why you win and lose deals,” Herrin said. “What we found is that some of our assumptions are correct, but we’re missing a lot of the granular detail in our assumptions. And so these details have become invaluable to the onboarding of new sales reps and in continuing to build on that momentum.”
Herrin’s conclusion is that every company can benefit from a win/loss program, regardless of whether or not the organization is already aware of areas of customer engagement that require more insight.
“My first response would be, ‘If you have the budget, just do it,’” Herrin said. “Win/loss would be useful for anyone. As software and markets move faster and faster, it’s getting more and more vital to find answers early on to any issues you’re experiencing, rather than finding these answers out six months or 12 months down the line. At that point, you’re so far behind that there’s no catching up.”