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Taking Stock: A Real Sales Win – Loss Analysis

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
August 15, 2010

After your dream client has made their decision, and they are either your new dream client or they are back on your nurture list, you need to review why you won the deal or lost the deal. This analysis is fraught with dangers, including focusing only on why you lost or getting mired in the quicksand that is identifying the reasons your loss was not your fault.

When You Lose Rule 1: No Excuses

Maybe you lost on price, or something else that you believe that you cannot control. It doesn’t matter.

You don’t improve your individual performance by making excuses; you improve your performance by focusing on what you might have differently to obtain a better outcome.

You lost on price. Fine. Then you have to believe that you failed to create enough value to demonstrate that you were worth more and that your cost was lower. Or maybe you should have mercilessly disqualified this prospect in the first place.

You lost because, after all your time diagnosing your dream client’s needs and building a solution, they saw something that you didn’t present in your solution–only because it was not important until they saw it. You failed to ask for a commitment for an appointment after your dream client finished their beauty pageant and missed the opportunity to respond.

Maybe you lost because an unknown decision-maker stepped in at the last minute in wrenched the deal from your grip. Why was the decision-maker unknown? Did you do enough to build a surrogate salesforce within your dream client to vocally oppose that decision and demand that you be brought to the table.

This is tough stuff, I know. Evaluating your losses this way move the focus from what you cannot control to what you can control. There is no reason to review your losses if you do not intend to change your sales behaviors to prevent losing future opportunities for the same reason you lost prior opportunities.

If you sell, you will lose some deals. You will some deals that belong to you because you are the right partner, and it will hurt. But the object is your personal and professional development; it is growth and improvement.

When You Win Rule 2: It’s About Future Behavior

You may be quick to conclude that you won your deal because you presented the right solution at the right time and at the right price. Perhaps you did. But perhaps you did more than that and had some favorable early outcomes create a tailwind that ensured that you were going to win.

Maybe you developed the relationships deep enough within the organization that your name was the first name and only name ever really considered.

Maybe you demonstrated that you were the only person who could be trusted to own the outcome that your dream client needs.

Maybe the circumstances that brought you to the table generated a strong tailwind. Maybe it was the fact that someone at the C-Level who you met during a conference insisted that you be considered.

Or maybe you really were simply the best salesperson and you followed all of the iron laws of sales perfectly.

The possibilities are endless (and I love to hear some of the factors that brought deals your way), but the goal is on making whatever contributed to your win repeatable.

As you analyze your wins, take note of the exceptional and work to understand how it moved the deal in a favorable way for you. Did the relationships you developed insist that you be provided an opportunity? Did they give you information, sharing their vision with you in way that ensured you had an unfair advantage going into the contest? How do you repeat this in your next deal?

Did your dream client suggest that your commitment to their deal moved it in your direction, even when there were other great solutions? What did you do to create this belief and how do you do it again on future opportunities?

More of What Works, Less of What Doesn’t

I am not suggesting that there aren’t legitimate reasons that might cost you a deal that are beyond your control. But many of the reasons that you believe to be beyond your control are not beyond your control. They may require that you get a greater vision of yourself and your power or they may require a campaign to sell inside your own company.

The goal of your win-loss analysis is to identify what works, so that you can do a lot more of it and win more often, as well as what doesn’t work, so you can stop doing what causes failures. Your analysis has to include both, and you need work to understand your own performance so that you can improve it.


Analyzing your wins and your losses together can build a powerful set of lessons that informs your future actions and behaviors. Take stock of these lessons learned, and make no excuses!


    1. Do your win-loss reviews focus on the losses only? Do you ever look for legitimate reasons that the deal was lost that absolve you of any responsibility? How does this confirmation bias prevent you from learning and from improving your performance?
    1. Take out your last pipeline report. Choose five lost deals. Review these deals to determine why you lost them, eliminating any reason that absolves you of the responsibility for losing—even if it is a true and legitimate reason? What would you do different, knowing that the path you took last time led to a loss? (Don’t stop until you have a list of different actions that might have led to a better outcome).
    1. Look at your recent won deals. What did you do that enabled you to win? What different actions, behaviors, or circumstances led to you being awarded your dream client’s business? How are these action, behaviors, and circumstances different from deals that you have lost? What can you to make them repeatable on future opportunities?
  1. Look at the circumstances that helped you to win and had little to do with you. What can you do to enable those circumstances on future opportunities?

For more on increasing your sales effectiveness, subscribe to the RSS Feed for The Sales Blog and my Email Newsletter. Follow me on Twitter, connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your sales organization, check out my coaching and consulting firm, B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, email me, or call me at (614) 212-4279.

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Sales 2010
Post by Anthony Iannarino on August 15, 2010

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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