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Knowing why you lose is as important as knowing why you win – Part 6 of PMM with Julie Taylor

This is part 6 of a multi-part series all about Product Marketing. Introhive’s Director of Product Marketing, Julie Taylor, will guide you through the ins and outs of creating a product marketing group from scratch. You might want to begin with the introduction to the series if you haven’t already.

In this series, Julie draws upon her own experience and extensive research, letting you in on all (well, almost all) of her trade secrets about essential PMM programs, and passing along all the lessons she’s learned along the way to building a successful team that made the finalists in 2021’s Product Marketing Awards.

This part is all about creating a Win-Loss Program so you can better understand the things that not only make you successful, but also the areas where you can focus on improvement. Because knowing is half the battle.

Feedback is a gift

By now, you’re aware of my healthy appetite for feedback. You know those performance reviews your boss gives you every year? I live for that shit. Cut to the chase and tell me where i need to focus my growth… as a high-performing employee, that is the best gift ever.

Generally, I’ve had great bosses—and all from Canada—so of course they’re incredibly nice, but likely biased and even sugarcoating their feedback.

Now imagine an organization that gets unbiased feedback from companies who have evaluated and experienced their product and services and have been through their purchasing journey. And I’m not talking about the sales rep speaking on behalf of those buyers (although that is certainly a good place to start your program and an important layer to consider). What I’m talking about is speaking directly to those buyers yourself. Invaluable.

When you answer the question: “Why do we win?” you find your differentiation. 

Real growth comes from losing

To me, though, the real gold is mined out of “Why do we lose?”, that’s where you find alignment and focus. You know what gaps you need to fill, friction you need to resolve, and product areas you need to double down on.

By now, you likely know what I’m talking about… if you guessed a win-loss program, you’re right. We just kickstarted our program here at Introhive in the summer so it’s early in it’s maturation, but already we are reaping the benefits across the org:sales enablement, product, marketing, sales ops, and leadership. 

What does a Win-Loss Program look like?

Structure:

  1. Whenever starting new programs, in my experience, it’s best to start small and expand. So we started the win-loss pilot program with our sights set on late stage lost opportunity qualitative interviews for two reasons: 1) We anticipated this layer to be the most difficult to nail and the most costly aspect of the program (why not face it head on?), and 2) we didn’t have a good pulse on why we lost (in detail) so thought we’d learn the most with this avenue (spoiler alert: we were right). Keep in mind, getting time with a fraction of your lost buyers requires a full conditioning cadence (think of it like prospecting to someone who already said no to you, with up to 4 touchpoints, via various channels) this is why it almost needs an incentive, and we outsourced the majority of this to a third party. 
  2. Second layer we’re in the midst of rolling out is an Automated survey for those early stage lost opportunities. For us this was stage 0 and 1, and we’ll send them 5 questions focused around the trigger event, evaluation process, points of frustration, competitive / alternative deal breakers, advice they’d give us. Obviously, every company has different questions they need to answer, but we feel this gives us a little bit of everything (sales, marketing, and product).
  3. Qualitative interview for won opportunities – otherwise known as new customers. We’re in the midst of implementing this now, but it will be handled by our customer evangelist. It’s part of a larger welcome strategy, but also gives us that flip side of the coin and helps us develop the beginnings of a customer story.

Julie’s top 5 takeaways (so far)

Okay, so those are our layers, here are my Top 5 learnings and tips thus far:

  • 1. Start by determining the objectives of the program (are there marketing gaps, poor experience throughout the sales process, lack of information, product needs work). This will help you shape the line of questioning and decipher who you want to glean insights from (maybe it’s a vertical, a geo, a company size, a compelling event, the product solution they were evaluating).
  • 2. Then you need to determine the who:
    • Who Internally means you’ve gotta craft a RACI matrix (who’s responsible, accountable, consulted and informed). Who is going to gather the required data, who will write the conditioning drip, who will send gifts, who will interview, who will report back findings – who needs to hear the findings. The ace up our sleeve has been our consultant (please reach out if you want me to put you in contact – she is amazing). Because our team was at capacity and a bit green, we found someone who had experience, who knew how to conduct qualitative research and how to distill and spin all of these conversations into actionable recommendations. The best part about outsourcing is they’re unbiased.
      • It likely goes without saying, but these people are a conduit to your brand. they need to be professional, reliable and know your space and what you do at a high level. another hidden strength to look for is someone who’s able to quickly get people’s guard down – so people feel comfortable opening up and sharing their dirty laundry, in a short period of time.
    • The next ‘Who’ is external – who do you want to interview? Reference back to your goals to determine this. We started with a broad scope – once we nail that down, we’ll create cohorts of focus areas (like, for example, new verticals we’re trying to break into). Before interviewing, compile contact details of course (name, title, company, email, address), but also other beneficial information like stage they dropped out at, industry, recent interactions, relationship strength (let us know if you need help with sourcing this data haha – i can’t help it – shameless introhive plug).. All of this data builds a picture going into your interviews and during analysis
  • Next up: HOW – what’s the structure of this program, how often will you be surveying or interviewing – is it on a monthly or quarterly basis? Is it immediately after a win or loss? How long are the interviews? How often do you disseminate findings? What’s your incentive look like – is it a gift card or a witty gift? What does your conditioning drip looks like – is it via email, is is a handwritten letter you send, is it linkedin or phone call – maybe it’s all of the above. Standing out in an overflowing inbox is nearly impossible these days. Be creative in your outreach. Answer the question ‘what’s in it for me’ from the customers purview. 
  • Be flexible. Your interviewee may only have 5 or 10 mins to spare. Know which questions will give you the biggest bang for your buck.  
  • And last but not least – don’t forget to analyze and share your findings. A whole bunch of datapoints are useless. Information must be translated into insights and recommendations. What are the trends that keep popping up? Are they tied to certain types of customers? What are the main trigger events? What channels are most / least effective in the buying journey? How do companies in your space establish trust? What competitors are picking up pace and why? What needs to be prioritized into the roadmap or sales enablement calendar? These are the questions your entire organization is dying to hear – it helps them drive the most impactful strategies into their areas of expertise. 

Don’t bite off more than you can chew (at least not to start with)

One more tip for good measure: start small. Try it out on a handful of closed opps and see what happens. Be sure to look me up if you have any questions—I’m always here to help a fellow product marketer.

Coming up

There are only a few more topics left to go in the So you wanna be a Product Marketer series, but you’re not going to want to miss them. Next up is about messaging, where Julie does a deep dive into how Introhive turned its entire marketing messaging on its head and started focussing on what matters: what the customer needs. You can also check out more from Introhive’s Product Marketing group.

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