B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 1728 · 7 months ago

Effective Win/Loss Interviews, with Tirrah Switzer


In this episode, Benji talks to Tirrah Switzer, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Community Brands.

Discussed in this episode:

  1. Why best practices aren't enough in win/loss interviews
  2. Comparing in-house to 3rd party
  3. How to best implement findings from the research

Conversations from the front lines and marketing. This is be to be growth. Today I am joined by Tara Sweitzer. She is the senior director of product marketing at community brands and we actually connected through like a mutual friend and a friend of the show now, Tara pollock, who was recently on b Tob Growth and she spoke very highly of you. So I'm glad to have you here. Tia, I'm excited to be here. Thanks so much for having me. For sure I'll tell our listeners where we're going and then we'll back it up and hear a little bit about your role. But today really what we want to talk about is when loss interviews and all that can be gained from having those conversations if they're done right. I think it can sort of be a pull your hair out situation if you don't know how to have them effectively, and we want to help guide how those can go and options that we have beyond maybe just thinking we have to take it on. So we'll get there in a minute. Tell me a little bit about your role and what you like most about the work you're doing at community brands right now. Awesome. So I lead our product marketing and proposal team for our Association and Events Division here at community brands. So we are a team of about six product marketers and to content and propose soul managers, and we manage everything from when loss go to market buy, our support, competitive enablement, our FPS, etc. For about thirteen products. But really our team ultimately exist to drive product and Revenue Growth and help our team win more. And so I think we are doing some awesome things with when loss, with competitive and ablement. So really helping our team when more is really exciting things that we're working on at community brands. For sure, it's a lot to keep track of and that's a lot of products as well. So, like, your not short of things to do and it can be hard to know where. Like going back to where we want to go today. That when lost, like conversation, it's just seems like it's another thing on the plate, like Oh, we know someone should do this, we should go talk to, you know, potential customers, we should talk to those that decided us why they did decide us. But that's a daunting task. What sort of made you originally passionate about this win loss interview? So really, you know, the simplest way to find out how you wont someone over or you lost a customer, potential customer, is to really just ask them right direct to the source exactly. But sales reps don't always get the real answer from prospects. You know, I feel like we all inherently want to be nice, right. We don't want to hurt someone's feelings. HMM. So, no matter what, prospects have formed this relationship with their sales rep and vice versa, and especially if you're in an enterprise deal, that's what six, nine, twelve months you formed this relationship. So it's kind of hard to tell someone like hey, like your you, I really sucked, or well, you didn't really tell me why you're the best product for an organization. So the data collected from win loss interview from a third party really helps with unbiased feedback, because if you're not talking to the sales rep, it's a lot harder to just not be like Oh, price or I'm going to completely ghost you,...

...piece out and never talk to you again. And so the those interviews provides the real root cause of wins and losses and to me I find that just fascinating. And also when you look at how it differs from what was actually entered into the crm. Yep, it's you would need like both the potential customer and the REP to be like the perfect personality type for it to work in that situation, and we kind of bank on that. And a lot of organizations where you're just hoping that the person is going to be honest and you're hoping that the REP could ask the right question or take it in the right way or have the emotional intelligence that I kee like there's a lot that goes into this process that I think we take for granted or we just you know, we're all busy, we don't have time, like something's better than nothing. We slap something together and like that's kind of our system now. So I want us to try to optimize this and make it the best it can be. I know we're all in slightly different situations. Let's talk about your situation specifically, like were you tasked with this or was it something that you started getting like passionate about bringing and going, okay, this is something we want to focus on. How did this become your thing? So I would say, you know, we've we've evolved our win loss program in house. We did like an inhouse doii program. Now we're doing one managed by a third party. Yep. But for me personally, when loss interviews was just this like thing I really wanted to do personally, not only for like the business, but also career development. It just sew there was this like treasure show of information that we're completely missing out on. So one of the things that it actually attracted me to community brands was it was part of the job description. They had a priority to have a win loss program and so when I first started, one of my jobs was to build an inhouse program from scratch. For we're just one product, like not, you know, for everyone and and their brother. Just one product, you know, simply work with sales, get a list, reach out to some folks, have a conversation and boom, knowledge gained. Yeah, I think that's great. I mean I love that you all wanted to do this, even just as like a career development thing. I you had me thinking for a second I should put this on my linkedin. But there was a time in my life where I was calling, like at a previous employer. I was calling for like boats that got bad reviews and I would call the customer directly and I basically had did the interview to just basically try to get their score eventually to be higher for their rating, because they left like a bad rating. But it was interesting to talk to them and because I was a third party and was caught, I would have to say, I was calling on behalf of but they knew I was outside of it, so they would just tell me straight up exactly what happened and you gain so much more insight and you realize like Oh, even like they we didn't necessarily company didn't leave like this horrible impression in their mind. There was just these little things that if we had tweaked we could have, you know, won them over as a customer. I wouldn't have been such a bad experience. So it's interesting the insights you learn from these conversations and I was so cool that you just like chose to take it on. Okay, you ran into some roadblocks and I want to go there for a second, because this didn't go super easy and that's part of why you decide to go third party. Talk a bit about as you start doing these reach outs, like what are those calls like, because essentially it is it's cold calling. What was that experience for you in reality. So I definitely went into it being so naive. I was like, Oh,...

...like, I have this list of people, I'm going to reach out to them, they're going to totally want to talk to me. They're going to be like Yay, wait, want to help make you better. No, no, that is like I was living in polly and a world or something. But that, yes, it's not how it goes. So what I found was that you really needed like three big things to be successful. You needed time, resources and skills. So, like we talked earlier, you know, if you have a product marketing team that's more kind of generalist, like we are here at community brands, you know they're working on messaging, release, communication, falling competitors, you know when loss is just one more thing competing with priorities and time, and you have to have this like really great incentive, like people don't want to just chat with you and like ten and twenty five dollars is not the thing either, like you got to make an investment in it. And then lastly is that you had to have great interview skills. It's a different beast of an interview and I feel like there's a ton of best practices out there. Right, you can find out what questions you should ask. What's a template I should use to like invite someone to the interview, like here's kind of how you should maybe structure your incentive. But it is Wal. It's just not that easy. Yep, it's interesting in that journey because you're going, okay, so I'm going to cold call. Definitely not everyone's going to answer. In fact, the small, small number of people are going to answer out of a ton of cold calls. Let's say I eventually get that person on the phone. Now that's might be the first time I'm running this script and asking these questions. So you're going to be nervous. Then you ask the questions, but you also have to have a team of people that can actually draw out the insights after you have this. So it's not as simple as like exactly what you said. It's not just best practices, it's the right type of person who could execute on it and has the mental bandwidth to be able to do this. Well, again, we're making it seem like the barrier to entry is very high. In some ways. I think we should raise the bar like we're saying. Most people think they're doing this and there's a way that you can say you're doing it, but there's a better way. Is going to take more effort, it's going to take more time. As someone who does interviews all the time, this is I know this has to be a very different type of animal. This is a different this is different beast, because drawing out insights that then help drive the business forward, that in and of itself is something that would take tremendous brain power. Yes, you know, like you do an interview for podcast, like you're you're obviously talking to people passionate about a topic. Yep, you're interviewing someone for a job. You're like, they're selling themselves. You know, you want this like company culture, fit and skill set, even a case study interview. You're talking to customers. You you're a product expert. You you know they love you, even if they're going to complain and tell you what they hate about you, they're going to do it, and this like super nice way, whereas with win loss you have to like pull information out of folks and sometimes it's emotion based, like how did you feel in the sales process, how did you feel in the demo? And with win loss you have some folks who straight up do not like you. They did not like your product, they did not like your sales room, they did not like one bit about you, and they called on a bad day. Oh yeah, and they have no problem...

...telling you. MMM. So with when loss to get that unbiased feedback, like you also have to have, like for me, when I you can always tell those interviews. So when you read the transcript, like even my like Mama Bear and stint comes out like I want to protect my teammates and my product and my company. Like what do you back it on up? Like, what are you so upset about? Yeah, so it's just that unbiased feedback gets definitely harder when you're part of the organization. Okay, so what ends up happening is then, like budget times approaching and you're going this has to be a main focus for us. We need someone. Let's bring somebody in, third party who can facilitate these conversations. What let's do this? Let's talk about some of what you brought in a company called close. I would say maybe they should sponsor this episode. They didn't, though. We're not like just saying you have to hire them, but what draws you to them and and then let's go to some of the results you've seen from this process. So when I did it, Dyi and house, you know, I reached out to probably sixty people. I got a handful of responses, I got no shows, I got one interview. MMM, that completely flopped. I could not pull anything out of this woman, like nothing. And then you just have all these time things, you know, like competing priorities. So I was like we have to like hire someone else to do this, like if we want the information, we have to outsource, like it's just not going to happen in house. So budget time came and I had been like talking about this for a while and I was like look, if I can only have one request, like this is my one request, like I want to do it, I want to try it, like let's see the results. And so we went shopping. But one of the what really drew me to close the vendor that we chose was their interview methodology. So they had really documented processes about how they interview, why they interview, use interview questions that they do. You know, they have this like massive training for their consultants. Our consultant is amazing, not going to say his name, so nobody steals them. And the other thing that I also loved was that the material that they provided back to you, so the transcripts, that insights from when loss was in this just super easy to use format and easy to understand. So I could read the entire transcript if I wanted to. So you get to see everyone's alms and they're like, you know, we're nervous. Ticks that they do in totalization, which is fun to read. But also you can filter it like hey, we did ten interviews for this product and price came up this many times. Here's quotes that go along with price, or maybe it was product functionality or support or whatever. You know, you can easily filter it. You can filter it by competitors, like here's WHO's coming up the most. So just super easy to understand, really easy to present two executives of like here's what we did, hear the results that we saw, and then it was easy for us to say our next steps are x, Y Z yeah, which is ultimately what you want from the windlass interview when you're thinking of bringing a third third party. I know a lot of the pushback and why people get hesitant with it is going...

...like they don't really know the product or offering well enough. Maybe we should have one of our own people like in the room, because that could potentially again, if you had the right person, could make it extremely convenient because they are in your organization day in a day out. Most people don't have that person. So how did they ensure that that transition was smooth and that they really understood your language and what you were going for? So we started with just one product. We met with their team as well as ours. We gave a demo of the product, we discussed why we thought we want, why we lost, we discussed our product, differentiators are competitors, and then we gave just some kind of like key lingo. So for us, people are going to say ams, that is association management software, or they may mention you know, they're going to talk in acronyms, because everyone calls refers to themselves as an acronym. So we just we went through those things together and we did it. We also invited different people on our team so it wasn't just product marketing. So we made sure that we had a sales rep and a demandgin marketer from every product to be part of the process. So they helped us develop the interview guide know what information was important, like what information we wanted to get out of the prospect not only from a sales perspective, but demand gin product marketing, and product marketing just ended up representing product as well. But all those stakeholders were involved to make sure we got the best information, and it was actually really good that they weren't hugely burst in everything, because then they could dig in. Like, you know, I may have just ignored something because I knew what that functionality meant or I could make an assumption based on it, whereas the interviewers like, why don't you tell me more about that, like what do you mean? Yep, YEP, and there's no assumption on the person that's being interviewed, like Oh, if this is a third party, I might actually like they might overcommunicate and explain because I meant, Oh, they I don't know if they know, like what's going on here. So that could see on both sides, like communication gets better, not worse, because they're both trying to overcommunicate. Okay, well, let's highlight a couple of the key findings in this process and then how it changed your thinking or decisionmaking moving forward. What would you highlight as is key findings from this? So I loved, like all of our findings that we've done for every product, and each one has revealed totally different findings, hmm. And so new, different insights for every single product. So, for instance, we know for one product our sales process is spot on. Wins and losses. Love it, like, don't touch it. It's Workin like. Don't spend any less time on the process. Confirmation of the direction you're aheadited exactly. Another product, we learned our pipe was full of the wrong audience. We needed to change our messaging, are positioning, we needed to, you know, really invest in some sales enablement and website copy. WAS IT lack of clarity there or like what? What drew the wrong audience? So we were we were getting too many small, smaller organizations in the pipe when it was really more of closer to an enterprise product. So we just needed to like make some simple tweaks to almost DQ people before they even came to us, because you just aren't going to be able...

...to afford it. Yeah, yeah, that you know. Ultimately, what we want sales to do is DQ fast, right spend your time on deals you can win. Let's not even bring you those that we know you can't right. Yeah, I love that and I love that there's been variety, because sometimes win loss is good and just going okay, these are things that we're doing well and like let's just double down there. And then even just little subtle things in messaging or how you disqualify. Like you have facts now, right, you actually have data that backs up why you're choosing the direction you're choosing. So if you were talking to an audience, because you are of marketers who are like all right, I love like that this worked, you know, for Tira and her team, but I'm not exactly sure what our next step is like. What's our how after listening to this episode of be to be growth, what would you say you're advocating for our list nurse to do in response? So I would first off as embrace when loss, whether you or Duyi in it or you have budget and can utilize a third party. So I would my suggestion would be kind of three different things. So kind of you know, crawl, walk, run. So have a win loss report built in your crm. Look at the raw data. You know your win rate, your competitive when rate loss reasons, etc. But then take it a step further and read the notes from the sales rep, read the emails between the prospect and the sales rep and see would you have coded it the same loss reason? Interesting. Okay, I would say I would have done it maybe differently. Thirty, forty percent of the time. Now, granted, I'm just reading notes and my assumption, but it's really interesting to actually read the notes and see and be like, hmm, I would have totally thought that was competitor not praising or product not, you know, something else. So that's that is a fun exercise to do and really give some insight into why you're winning and why you're losing. If you don't have budget and you're up for the challenge and you have the time, try launching your own win loss interviews. And I will say if someone does this, I totally want to hear about their experience. Would love to hear kind of how you honed in on those interview skills. So yeah, definitely want to hear if anyone does that. I want to pause on that one for a second because I do think you could, if you were trying like the crawl, walk, run approach here. You could have someone on your team that sets like I know we have rocks, but what, however, you guys do goals set, just like a quarterly goal for somebody on your team to try to get a certain number of interviews. So, like, don't worry about how many cold calls it takes, as as much as just like let's get ten interviews over the course of the quarter, because then at least you have something as a baseline and you can decide, like how much insight do we get here? So I like that one as a first step. If you're not ready to bring in the third party, I'm assuming the run is like go get closed. But whoever heard that? Is Right. Yes, your budget and higher third party. I promise, like you won't regret it. And the thing is is it really trickles through the entire organization. So sales, sales engineers, your product team, your demand Jon Marketers, your digital marketing team, product marketing, product like, all of those teams are going to receive in valuable information that's gonna help drive strategy and demand,...

...ultimately helping you win more business. Like it's great when your product team knows, you know what our road map is spot on, like we know why we're losing. It's on the Road Map to fix it, or maybe like, Oh crap, we didn't know any of this, like we need to revise our road map. The insights for our digital team, I mean our competitor landing pages are way better now because of the insights that we've received. I think that's a great way to to leave this episode. Some practical insights, things that we can all do, depending on the the phase that we are in and the team that we have. I actually had just recently, in the last month or so, had a conversation with Ryan Paul Gibson, and he is a third party as well that does a lot of these different types of interviews. He's a good follow on Linkedin as well, so I'll plug him, but he had mentioned to me he's like one thing we don't understand, and this is zooming out a little bit, it's like we all say that we want to talk to our customers, but there's like ten different ways you can talk to your customers or seasons that they might be in with your product that present different opportunities to have conversation. So when loss is like a specific type of interview, that you get good at that, you develop questions around, but that's like one in a series of ten other things. Right you think about the funnel and where you could talk to potential customers in that funnel and like gain insights, and then once they've been customers and you're thinking of their experience, that's a whole different set of research that you can conduct. So I just invite people to like go on that journey and start, I think, when loss, is a very distinct moment in the journey. That is great to have insight on and then build it out from there. And man great conversation to her. I love the the insights and the things you've learned from this process. Talk a little bit about community brands, the work you guys are doing and how people can stay connected to to you awesome. So community brands, we make software for good really so our customers are associations, nonprofits, pay through twelve schools, and so we have some amazing customers that are making an impact on the world that we get to work with every single day, which is really fun and exciting. And then, I would say linkedin. It's probably the best way to get in touch with me. I'm not cool enough for like ticktock or anything like that. Same but Linkedin is where it's at. Love it. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking time and sharing your wisdom here on be to be growth with us today. Awesome. Thank you for our listeners. If you're newer to the show and you have yet to follow on whatever podcast platform you listen on, we'd love for you to do that so you don't miss future episodes. Connect with me as well over on Linkedin, talking about a community, talking about marketing, business life, and also just love chatting with people. So if you ever have a question or want to reach out, would love to chat you and we'll be back real soon with another episode. Thanks for listening to everybody. We're always excited to have conversations with leaders on the front lines of marketing. If there's a marketing director or a chief marketing officer that you think we need to have on the show, reach out email me, ben dot block at Sweet Fish Mediacom. I look forward to hearing from you.

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