Win-loss interview best practices

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.

Your win-loss interview guide is now ready to use, and it’s time to make the most of it! It’s important for interviewers to understand how to use the guide before they begin. For example, leveraging the win-loss interview guide is important, but rigidity and a checklist-style approach is a big mistake. The conversation should be free-flowing and natural. Interviewers should feel free to probe deeper or to clarify, asking second- or third-level questions to extract a fuller understanding, when necessary.

To ensure a sharp focus, you may wish to establish a specific time limit for each win-loss interview, which can be gauged by running internal role plays with the guide.

The more you put into the interview planning and preparation process, the more valuable the insights you will collect.

Here are a few more win-loss interview best practices:

Be prepared

Prior to the interview, do some homework on the interviewee themselves and their company and/or industry by checking out their LinkedIn profile and business website. If you conducted a pre-interview survey, review the responses as a way to inform the conversation. Initial research will also help boost your confidence as the interviewer.

Set expectations

It’s important to start each call by setting expectations. Be clear on your objectives and what you’re planning to do with the feedback provided, and ensure the interviewee that their feedback will be kept confidential. It’s also important to let the interviewee know you’re not from sales and you have no intention of trying to sell them anything. This alone will provide them with a sense of ease, leading to a more fruitful discussion. 

Be yourself

Don’t force yourself into a particular interview style—go with what works well for you and feels comfortable. If you’re someone who likes to engage in some brief chit-chat before embarking on the interview proper, feel free to indulge if your interviewee seems open to that informal discussion. Interviewing is an art, and you may find it very helpful to examine the different techniques other interviewers use.

Be present

Ensure you have no distractions at all during the conversation, meaning you’re in a quiet place and focusing all your attention on what the interviewee has to say. Even if you’ve heard some of what the interviewee is sharing many times before from another source, what they’re disclosing is new for them. 

Be a good listener

Follow the 10/90 rule in win-loss interviews, meaning that the interviewer typically speaks for 10% of the time, while the interviewee talks for 90%. This ratio may be harder to achieve with less forthcoming interviewees, so even a 20/80 ratio would ensure you’re still getting plenty of insight.

End strong

Among your final questions should be an open-ended, “Is there any other feedback you’d like to share?” or “Are there any areas of the engagement we’ve not yet talked about that you’d like to discuss?” We know from experience that some of the most significant interview insights may come right in the final minutes of the conversation.

Pro tips

  • Record and then transcribe your interviews: Recording interviews ensures accuracy and allows interviewers to focus on asking questions. Use a transcription service to ensure your interview recordings are accurately converted to text. For external services, consider Rev. 
  • Leverage editorial support: A skilled editor will clean up the content so it’s easy to digest, and they’ll check for factual accuracy wherever possible and organize the material using your interview guide as a template. 

Read more in this series