What is Win-Loss Analysis and How to do it?

This is a photo of frustrated woman traveler lost in city, looks depressed at paper map, shouts from despair, has tour on vacation, carries backpack, wears big round spectacles for an article entitled What is win-loss analysis and how to do it? by Octopus Competitive Intelligence beat competitors, increase sales, solve problems, Competitor Analysis

What is Win-Loss analysis and how to do it?

In this article entitled, What Win-Loss Analysis Is and How to Do It, we will describe what it is and why it’s so powerful. And how to run the analysis, read it, and use the results. The win-loss analysis takes the guesswork out of why a sales opportunity becomes a customer or why they decided not to buy from you. 

Why conduct a win-loss analysis?

If you are not asking why people did not buy from you, how do you expect to find the answer? A big dollop of assumption based on guesswork with some platitudes from your sales team?

Unfortunately, we know this sort of analysis takes place frequently. It’s easier for people to ignore the real reason for failure and success. We understand from several sources that the number of organisations using win-loss analysis is well below 20%. 

It has to be essential to get to the bottom of a customer’s decision-making process and understand how the market sees you. What are you missing (or why are you attracting customers)? Which competitors are getting the better of you? And most importantly, why? A salesperson on your CRM writes no more than one sentence telling you what they think you want to know.

The win-loss analysis is a potent Intelligence tool. It will allow you to suddenly see trends and patterns early on, enabling you to either keep doing what you are doing but more of it or get your act together and do something different to get back on course. 

The results will shock and surprise you. Moreover, the best aspect of the win-loss analysis is that it is relatively simple. The simplest way to determine how you won or lost a customer is to ask them. So, here’s everything you may need to know to start implementing a successful strategy and win more and lose less.

Win – Loss analysis works equally well with products, services and professional services like law firms and accountancy practices.

The ratios

Quantitative ratios for win-loss analysis are relatively simple:

  • The number of won opportunities / Number of lost opportunities = win/loss ratio
  • Number of won opportunities / The number of total opportunities = win rate.

Who should conduct win-loss interviews?

A completely independent, bias-free organisation best does the win-loss analysis. Not by your sales and customer service teams. Now, you may think that we would say that, but for customers or those who went elsewhere, you need to know any expressed views are reported correctly, with nothing left out and offer an unbiased opinion of the events leading to the win or loss.

Those potential customers who went elsewhere are the most important to speak to, and they also need to know that Win/loss will not be just a sales pitch. Don’t use anyone involved in the sales process; you are looking for the prospect /customer to offer uncensored feedback within a sales-free environment. The last thing you need is an uncomfortable conversation. Also, remember if you ask your product teams to do the job, they may focus on the product’s technical details and get defensive if a non-customer criticises their work. 

For this reason, we argue that an external competitive intelligence consultant is best suited to do the Win-Loss analysis. However, you should have input on the standard questions they will ask. Ideally, get them to offer their thoughts on the question content.

How many interviews do I need?

For Win-Loss analysis to be useful, you must get a wide range of interviews to achieve a consistent picture. So, get as many as you can, ideally on an ongoing basis. Also, to prevent your final figures from being out of sync, make sure you have an even number of results. Keep the interviews to 20 minutes max, so they don’t think they are getting grilled and you don’t eat into their day.

When should it take place?

A Win-Loss analysis is best done soon after the event. The longer you leave, the less fresh the perspective the interviewee will have, and their emotions will have mellowed. Try to get won-and-lost deal interviews out of the way before they start using your or your competitor’s service so they are not blinded by the hopefully fabulous service they have received post-sales.

How should a win-loss analysis take place?

Win-loss analysis should ideally take place in person or over the telephone. The key reasons are that interviews rarely go to plan, and sometimes, when asking a question, you will get more insight with the interviewee going off-piste. You will be able to dig deeper on the phone or face-to-face, but remember to stick to the list of questions, too, as you need to be able to compare and contrast the answers with the other interviews. 

Also, without seeing or speaking to them, you will not be able to note their positive or negative inflexions, passion, and body language. Always create open-ended questions. Yes and no answers rarely tell us anything, and the conversation will flow better without these closed questions. Never turn the interview into a sales call, and never get defensive. It’s the interviewee’s job to tell you how it is, not you. 

Analyse your results

The best thing about outsourcing the process is that you will not need to do the analysis, as it should be done for you. It should be done in a format where you can see the workings out so you can agree or disagree with the analysis. You can’t disagree with the interview content as it is facts—at least in the eyes of the customer. 

  • Strip down and collate the interviews
  • Take notes and look for patterns. You are going to get extreme views either way. They are expected, but it’s more important to look for the patterns and spot trends. If you react to every interview’s complete findings, you will sell a round, square triangle solid with a liquid surface of wood or water!
  • Look for problems with your sales process, such as being too long, short, unprofessional, scripted, or pushy.
  • Isolate pricing issues. Are you too cheap or too expensive? Are you consistently missing features they are looking for? Features your competitors have and you don’t. Never restrict yourself to just pricing, features, and sales issues. If you do, you may miss other patterns and trends. 

Agree on actions

Once you’ve identified what’s going on, devise a plan to overcome any problems. And because you have the Win-Loss ratios, it is easier to see the results. Run the numbers monthly to ensure you’re going in the right direction.

Show the results

Tell your sales, product marketing, customer services teams and anyone else involved in the supply chain what you have found. Publish the ratios and put them into your organisation’s objectives. 

Interestingly, once you have the data, you can use the ratios to track your actions to resolve any problems you found in the exercise. You can use Win-Loss to determine success in new product launches, new sales initiatives, new marketing, etc. This insight is where Win-Loss analysis becomes an even more powerful tool. 


Thank you for your time. This article described win-loss analysis and how to do it. We explained the process, why it’s so powerful, how to run the analysis, and how to read and use the results. If you have any questions about win-loss analysis, please get in touch.

Let’s talk…

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Home » Blog » Analysing competitive intelligence » What is Win-Loss Analysis and How to do it?

What is competitive intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is the finding & critical analysis of information to make sense of what’s happening & why. Predict what’s going to happen & give the options to control the outcome. The insight to create more certainty & competitive advantage.

This is a drawing of the Octopus Intelligence Logo By Octopus Competitive Intelligence, Due Diligence, Competitor Analysls, Market Analysis, Competitor Research and Strategic Business Development to beat your competitors, increase sales and reduce risk

We Find The Answers To Beat Your Competitors

Bespoke, people-powered competitive intelligence to create insight you can do something with. We help you be more competitive, beat your competitors and win more business.

But enough about us, let's here about you:

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.