Did You Just Lose a Deal on Price? Key Elements of a B2B Win-Loss Analysis

by | Apr 23, 2024 | Increase B2B Sales

HomeBlogIncrease B2B SalesDid You Just Lose a Deal on Price? Key Elements of a B2B Win-Loss Analysis

Losing deals is a fact of life in B2B sales – even for top performers. According to a recent Hubspot report, the average close rate across industries hovers around 20%. Even as the best reps achieve consistently higher close rates, many companies find it difficult to replicate their strategies across the wider organization. Before delving into why and how, consider the following scenarios:

    • After an encouraging final meeting with the purchasing committee weighing an investment in an innovative, AI-powered business intelligence platform, Jamie was looking forward to finalizing the six-figure deal when she got the bad news. Procurement had pushed back on the cost, and the purchasing committee got cold feet – instead choosing to stick with their legacy ad hoc approach for the foreseeable future.


    • Robert had spent the past six months traveling onsite to one of his largest manufacturing accounts in the hopes of introducing his company’s market-leading adhesive technology to a new assembly line. Having successfully sold into this account for years, he was hoping to win on the back of strong relationships and superior functionality. When Robert got a call from his main contact, he was dismayed to hear that new leadership in finance had nudged the account in the direction of a lower-cost competitor that was unusually aggressive with pricing.

What do these scenarios have in common? On the surface, both opportunities were lost on the basis of price, either to an incumbent process or to a direct competitor. Both Jamie and Robert could have plausibly entered “Price” as a CRM disposition code when closing out the deal. More likely, Jamie would have input “No Decision” while Robert would likely have cited “Competition” as the reason for the loss. Yet in both cases, the final decision centered on price. even though in both scenarios the offerings were differentiated.

There clearly existed a gap between the way in which each customer perceived the solution’s value and in the selling organization’s assumptions about the value to the customer. Fixing this common disconnect is of great importance to any B2B sales team looking to improve performance. Teams that effectively sell value achieve higher sales velocity, reflected in the form of improved win rates, higher average deal profitability, an increase in qualified leads, and reduced sales cycle times. Using value to separate price buyers from value (or relationship buyers receptive to a value message) touches on all four sales velocity levers.

Value Gap

To sell value consistently, sales teams need a strong value proposition for consistent customer conversations. A value proposition is the central piece of content required to engage in value selling. It becomes the main organizing touchpoint for product, pricing, marketing, and sales to align on a solution’s value. It should be deployed as a value story – an interactive sales presentation that presents a solution’s value in an engaging manner that invites the customer into a two-way discussion.

Developing a win/loss discipline that centers on customer value is critical in the development and refinement of a value proposition. This involves capturing the CRM data when closing out any won or lost opportunity, analyzing trends across multiple opportunities, and using these insights to refine the commercialization strategy. Next, we will focus on the most important components of a value-based win / loss analysis. In our next blog, we will focus on deploying the findings from win/loss analysis to support value stories in sales that help overcome the price buyer problem.

Aligning Win / Loss Analysis on Customer Value Delivered

While sales organizations routinely identify areas of execution that require improvement, win/loss analysis can and should be utilized by the broader commercial team to assess the effectiveness of the entire go-to-market process. Product managers can use win/loss to inform the roadmap for new features and innovations. Pricing professionals can use this data to assess the margin impact of their value-based pricing programs. Marketers can judge the effectiveness of specific campaigns and messaging to segments and personae.

In order to understand why deals are truly won or lost, there must be a strong data model that captures the most critical elements of the deal from the customer’s perspective. Since value is so central to B2B success, a thorough understanding of how value was quantified and conveyed during the buyer’s journey is needed to make smart strategic adjustments. Unfortunately, the standard CRM data points captured by most B2B companies – including those required when closing out won or lost deals – rarely capture the following shortcomings:

    • Failure to qualify: Some buyer types are more likely to close than others, and identifying this early is critical. For organizations looking to achieve sales success for differentiated offerings, weeding out price buyers early, instead focusing on those receptive to understanding value, is critical. Failing to do so results in wasted time spent on opportunities that are unlikely to close, often leading to late surprises like the one experienced by Robert.Jamie’s case is also common – 60% of B2B deals are not lost to the competition but to no-decision (the “do-nothing” buyer). Most B2B pipelines are full of tire-kickers who waste precious sales resources. By centering initial conversations on value, salespeople can quickly identify deals in which they have a chance and qualify the rest out.
    • Failure to communicate quantified value: Introducing value early on in the customer journey is key to winning the deal. Research has shown that the first vendor to paint a vision of value wins the business 74% of the time. Centering conversations on value first helps disarm the price objection by contextualizing the cost of the superior benefits of your solution.Blame for lost deals tends to fall squarely on the shoulders of salespeople, but value communication is a responsibility shared by the entire go-to-market team. With an increasing percentage of the customer journey occurring before sales gets involved, it is critical that marketing teams communicate quantified and financial value in website, social, and paid content to facilitate an initial conversation focused on value rather than price.
    • Failure to differentiate: Communicating the value of your solution is critical. Again, the broader commercial team has a role to play. As they develop and bring innovative solutions to market, product and marketing professionals must quantify the economic impact relative to the alternatives and ensure that this differentiation is embedded in all marketing channels and within sales collateral. This includes the “do nothing” scenario, where quantified differentiation provides a foundation for the “why change” narrative – one that might have helped Jamie close her deal.

These common pitfalls hinder effective value selling, adversely impacting sales velocity and sales’ ability to overcome the price loss problem. Looking at the three most common failures of value selling, there are some obvious data points that should be captured to gain a thorough understanding about when, how, and if value was utilized:

    • Did we present our headline quantified value in the first sales conversation?
    • Did the buyer engage with marketing content that communicated this value?
    • Did we identify a competitor or alternative?
    • Was our differentiation against that alternative presented?
    • Was our estimated financial impact discussed over the course of the opportunity?
    • Did the buyer contribute meaningful feedback and data that helped us tailor this value to their business?

These six data points are critical for the broader commercial team to understand when and how value is being used in marketing and sales, the effectiveness of their value content, and execution gaps that need to be fixed. These can and should be required fields captured in the CRM as the deal progresses and can be as simple as adding a checkbox/selection field and by requiring these fields to be modified when advancing to the next opportunity stage.

How Value Interacts with Traditional Win / Loss Data

Outside of these six critical data points, more traditional elements of a win-loss analysis can also be deployed in the service to reassess B2B value strategies. While these are more commonly captured than the above six, marrying them with the value-based data points can yield powerful insights in audience segmentation, competitive differentiation, message saliency, and more.

    • Ideal Customer Profile Fit. A natural starting point for analyzing a lost opportunity is seeing how closely it originally aligned with a predefined ideal customer profile (ICP).  A well-defined ICP is critical to any successful go-to-market effort, even for solutions with a broad range of potential accounts across industries and company sizes. The target ICP may vary in specificity and detail by company and offering, but it is usually comprised of two components:
      • Firmographic: ex: company size, industry, geography, and other relevant characteristics of the target account.
      • Buyer Persona: ex: the title/function, level, buying committee role.

    Capturing this data allows product and marketing teams to continually reassess how their solution’s value aligns with their target accounts and personae, and which value drivers resonate better than others with different slices of the customer audience.

    • Situational Context. Great value stories blend a qualitative and narrative focus. When done correctly, trends within the broader economy and competitive landscape add compelling color to a strong sales value story.

          • Macro-level Events: The customer’s perspective on macroeconomic reasons why they passed on an investment decision is important for commercial teams to capture. As Joanne Smith shared in a recent webinar, periods of relative macro instability are the exception to the norm. They are often exogenous events that B2B companies have to contend with – for better or for worse. For example, rising interest rates can adversely impact demand for large equipment investments. Demand for innovative drugs and vaccines may increase the demand for contract lab services temporarily. Stretched supply chains can simultaneously squeeze margins due to increased supply costs while benefiting logistics providers that are able to help their customers mitigate these challenges.While it is important to capture this data, external economic factors are often deployed as excuses by buyers. Care must be taken to not overread these trends on a deal-by-deal basis. That said, aggregating this information across multiple lost deals can provide key strategic insights for senior decisionmakers hoping to adapt to shifting market conditions, which can then be woven into the narrative of the overall value story.


          • Changes to the Competitive Landscape: Competitive advantages are never fixed in stone. Every B2B company should expect innovative competitors, traditional and upstart, to try and eat away at their customer base and profit margins. Sales must be on the lookout for any and all signals as to which competitors they are dealing with. In some cases, buyers will be transparent. In others, some guesswork is required, such as combing buyer conversations for trap questions and differentiators that may point to a certain competitor, or going back and analyzing public testimonials / logos in competitors’ marketing materials. Logging to whom deals were lost to is a critical practice for sales – including those who opt for the “do nothing” alternative. Identifying new competitors, or trends in the known competitive universe, provide marketing and product teams a chance to sharpen their differentiation (or “why us”) messages.
    • Marketing Touchpoints. Attributing sales success to singular marketing programs or assets is an approach as dated as it is hopeless. It is widely accepted that buying committees are increasing in size, and 96% of prospects are doing their own research before engaging with sales. Instead of tying sales success or failures to specific programs measured by the number of leads generated, great marketing teams are looking at win/loss data and looking for common trends that appear to increase the likelihood of sales closing the deal.These trends could be in the form of certain audience segments responding better than others to a series of campaigns, or a particularly impactful customer testimonial or case study. Perhaps positioning certain value drivers has a bigger impact than others. Analyzing the output of the win/loss data should drive campaign strategy.Importantly, this is easy to do using any modern CRM. By capturing the data points mentioned above, a working campaign model enables reporting that ties opportunity data to interaction with content touchpoints so long as sales is diligent in associating all buying committee members with an opportunity record.

A strong win/loss analysis strategy can help B2B companies elevate their value propositions, and therefore their overall commercial success. Fortunately, most companies already have the basics in place. By implementing a small subset of required disciplines and enforcing it in the CRM, B2B sales teams will benefit in the long run with sharper, more engaging value story content.


To learn more about how value selling can boost your organization’s sales velocity, download: Increase Your Sales Velocity: The Case and Evidence for Value Selling

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