What is win-loss research?

This six-part series explores how a win-loss analysis program can help you improve close rates, better serve your customers and keep a pulse on competitors. We look at how to build a win-loss program, institute best practices and leverage the results.

Companies often struggle to understand why prospects make the buying decisions they do. We’ve all experienced those situations in which a potential customer appears to be an ideal match yet selects a competitor with little to no clear explanation. We’re left to wonder the reasons. Was the issue our offering, our sales process, our price, our reputation? What was it about the competitor’s product or service that was so compelling?

Organizations must continually ask these types of questions in order to grow. That’s where win-loss analysis—an ideal solution for capturing and organizing buyer feedback, and surfacing key trends and opportunities—comes into play. By analyzing company performance throughout points in the buying process, win-loss research drills down into why your business wins or loses a specific sale, providing honest buyer feedback and allowing you to make smarter, more informed decisions.

Instituting a win-loss analysis program is a smart way for companies to improve close rates, better serve their customers and keep a pulse on competitors. The process of learning what factors influence an opportunity outcome and what actions are needed to stay competitive can greatly impact win-loss rates. 

Findings from win-loss research generate a steady stream of fresh, reliable intelligence to help you monitor important growth areas, such as product–market fit, pricing strategy, buyer persona development, the buyer journey, competition and sales force effectiveness. Findings can not only be leveraged by executive management, but can also advance learning across the following five teams.

Product marketing

Buyer insights can strengthen product go-to-market strategies and support ongoing product success by improving buyer personas, fine-tuning positioning and messaging, and driving demand and adoption.

Product management

Support product roadmap development and prioritization by tracking ever-changing market needs. Insights can help monitor product performance, identify product advantages and gaps, and assist with developing new products.


Win-loss research results can help identify and implement strategies, tools and processes to strengthen your sales ecosystem. Additionally, insights can uncover development opportunities, measure sales effectiveness and track process adoption.

Competitive intelligence

Leverage real-time, competitive insights to develop the approach necessary to consistently win market share. Here, insights can help you foresee competitor moves, assess competitor capabilities and gauge competitor perceptions.

Customer success

Understanding why customers depart, referred to as “churn,” is an often overlooked yet very important element of a comprehensive win-loss program. Keep in mind that a churn interview for you is often a win interview for one of your competitors. 

In order to maximize return on investment, a win-loss analysis program must be thoughtfully designed and carefully executed, and include input and buy-in from various internal stakeholders. Using a holistic approach to capture and analyze buyer and customer feedback eliminates much of this guesswork.  

Pro tip

Appoint a program manager: To kick off your win-loss program’s planning process, appoint a program manager to assemble a committee of key stakeholders within your organization who have a vested interest in the insights you plan to collect. Because you want your win-loss research to be clear and impartial, move away from relying exclusively on just your sales team for data and information. Once this program manager is in place, the discovery and research process can begin!

Read more in this series