When Losing is Winning: Leveraging Win Planning to improve your win rates

By Warren Shiver on Feb 23, 2017

“If you’re not first, you’re last” - Ricky Bobby, Talladega Nights

In most cases, sales is a zero-sum game: there is typically a winner and multiple losers. While there are situations where a deal is split among vendors/partners, when a company like Ingersoll Rand wins an order for a large building systems contract, it is usually at the expense of their competitors.

When is it acceptable to lose? EARLY. We work with many clients (and apply this to our own business, sometimes with mixed results), who are seeking to improve their win rate. One of the best approaches (aside from launching a new best-in-class proprietary mousetrap) is to strengthen your sales team’s ability to assess opportunities and constantly qualify in/out. Easy to say, harder to do, especially when there are not enough opportunities in the pipeline to meet monthly, quarterly, and annual goals. 

What are some approaches to improving win rate?

  • Executing a Buyer-Aligned Sales Process – Much has been made of the changes to the customer’s knowledge (a large increase with the internet) and buying process (longer purchasing cycles) over the past decade, and for good reason.
  • Developing and ‘Testing’ Win Plans - Win plans are tools that are designed to ensure the sales team ask the important and ‘hard’ questions throughout the sales process that help to guide a coordinated set of strategies and tactics necessary to win. They are also quite helpful in integrating new sales team members, SMEs, or executives into the process midstream. We have had numerous clients where an executive refuses to participate in a sales call unless a win plan has been created. Win plans help the sales team to answer the question: “How and why will we win this business?”
  • Conducting Ongoing Opportunity Assessments – An assessment is typically an integral component of a Win Plan and helps the sales team to answer the simple question… “Does the customer evidence show that we are on the right track to win?” Like Win Plans, Opportunity Assessments should be revisited throughout the sales process.
  • Creating and Communicating Insights – Executing the first three items gives the sales team an enhanced ability to collaborate and strategize with peers, sales management, and even jointly with customers. Enabling technologies such as Salesforce.com and add-on analytics programs can match the assessment and win themes with historical results to improve a sales professional’s ability to objectively qualify each opportunity.

To drive up your win rate, think about applying these foundational tools to consistently assess your best “go/no-go” options. We’ve seen our clients’ win rates improve 10-15 points by implementing the approaches above. Want to learn more? Check out our guide on Win Planning.

Topics: win planning

Warren Shiver

Written by Warren Shiver

Warren Shiver is the founder and managing partner of Symmetrics Group, a management consultancy focused on end to end improvement in sales force effectiveness. Through Warren’s leadership, Symmetrics Group has helped numerous organizations build high-performing sales teams focused on the right go-to-market strategy, disciplined sales process and well-designed enabling tools. Clients and consultants appreciate Warren’s uncompromising focus on quality and measureable impact and how he embodies the firm’s core values.

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