Win/Loss Analysis – A Book Review

Ellen Naylor, Win/Loss Analysis: How to Capture and Keep the Business You Want. Park Hill Press, 2016, 214 pages, $29.95


First a disclosure: I have known Ellen for many years and am one (of many) thanked by Ellen in the afterword. I can honestly say that I had nothing to do with this book – although I wish I had.

Ellen here deals not just with competitive intelligence (CI), a vital subject as readers of this blog know, but specifically with its application in a vital and impactful area – win/loss analysis. She is not talking about the postmortems that are held after a successful, or unsuccessful, pitch or even bid, with the sales forces. That, she properly distinguishes as win/loss interviews.

Win/loss analysis is a form of directed CI. In it, someone, inside or outside of your firm, interviews the customers you have won, as well as those you have lost. The differences are night and day. As she puts it in her understated prose, “Most often the customer has a different perspective than your internal personal as to why the business was won or lost”. (p. 65) From my experience, the phrase should be “Almost always…”

But Ellen’s real-world approach, based on her own experience, is inclusive and collegial. My comments would cause immediate objections from the sales force. Her proven approaches are designed to avoid that, and in fact, leverage the sale force as a partner in the process.

In addition to showing just how effectively CI can be applied to generating powerful and valuable win/loss analyses, Ellen provides a wealth of great tips on preparing for and conducting elicitation interviews (pp. 145-68), as well as walking you through the win/loss interviewing process (pp. 83 et seq.) with suggestions that can apply in any interviewing context.

The book is thus a great addition to the CI practitioner’s or the DIYer’s library. Read it – and learn from a pro!

Institute for Competitive Intelligence Announces Summer US Program

July 21, 2016

The Institute for Competitive Intelligence has released its course schedule for Summer 2016 in the US. All courses will be held at the Holiday Inn Chicago West-Itasca, Itasca, Illinois (near the Chicago O-Hare

It will hold its Competitive Intelligence Basics course (ICI-1) on August 11-12. On August 15-19, it will hold its “Certificate in Competitive Strategy Workshops”. This series includes ICI-21, Analysis of Competitor Strategies, ICI-30, Business War Gaming, ICI-31, Market Intelligence, and ICI-33, Development and Implementation of Dynamic Competitive Strategies, plus a final examination on August 20. Each of the courses can also be taken separately.

To register or for additional information, click here.

Does Anyone Actually DIY CI? (Part 2)

July 19, 2016

This blog follows on my blog of June 20, 2016 on the same topic. Since then, I have come across a couple more interesting mentions, again in issues of Fortune, detailing where CI techniques are being applied by teams not in the CI business. These are a couple of very big players, but it is not traditional CI. It is DIY CI.

In the first case, the article opens discussing P&G’s new Retail Innovation Center. That Center

“aims to tell P&G’s story to its major customers. There are video case studies of disrupters…. There are mocked-up shelves of both P&G’s and competitors’ products and rooms set up to show P&G items in their intended habitats…. An enormous screen…allows users to click on stories showing how new technologies and marketing strategies are used…. None of the hundreds of examples are P&G’s own innovations.[1]

The second one involves Citigroup. Discussing a special team created to deal with the challenge of the “fintech”, the article details the “skunkworks” operation Citigroup has set up:

“On one wall there’s a five-by-10-foot chart listing all of Citi’s new fintech competitors and which of the megabank’s business lines each startup puts in jeopardy – from payments to commercial lending to wealth management.”

In addition to the competitor chart on the wall, the article notes that the team’s CEO has 2 competitor payment apps on her smart phone, as well as a stock-gifting app from a third competitor. In addition, she “has apps of five traditional banks and a brokerage firm…. Is it ok for the head of Citi FinTech to admit that she uses the competition’s products? Absolutely, says Cox [the CEO]….[2]

Is all this just ok? No. It is absolutely necessary.

[1] Jennifer Reingold, “Can P&G Finds Its Aim Again?”, Fortune June 15, 2016, p. 174

[2] Stephen Gandel, “Citigroup Does Fintech”, Fortune, July 1, 2016, pp. 58-59.

Off-Site Meetings

July 15, 2016

When holding any meeting or training session off-site, in a hotel or conference center, you and your firm need to apply several proven techniques to protect your competitively sensitive data (CSD).

Here are 10 easy steps to take:

  • Keep the names of meetings and their subject generic on all displays at the site, and never leave a list of attendees, badges, or meeting schedules and handouts (see below for more on this) on an unattended (at any time) registration table in the hall.
  • Is someone actually checking that everyone coming into the meeting room has a badge? If you do not spot me, you cannot stop me, can you?
  • For all breaks, either (a) secure the room from outsiders – that is, put a guard in there or lock the door when everyone is out, or (b) collect all materials from all desks and tables. Actually, doing both is better.
  • When leaving a room, particularly at the end of the day, police it yourself. Take down all flip charts and dispose of them (with the hotel, not just in a trash basket or recycling bin in the room), wipe down all white boards, remove all company equipment (including CDs or jump drives used by presenters which may have been left on a podium), and clear all tables and desks of all papers. Those should be disposed of with the hotel.
  • Do not use jump drives if you can avoid it. Why? They are easy to leave around for someone else (a competitor) to pick up. Also, a fast way for hackers to penetrate your systems is to infect a plain looking jump drive. If no one is using jump drives, then hopefully no one there will pick up a lonesome drive and boot it up at the meeting or back in the office looking to see who owns it.
  • Avoid using handouts. They are easy to lose or just drop into the (unsecured) trash or recycling bin. If there are materials to be consumed at or after the meeting, put them on a secure, password protected website so the attendees can access them.
  • Conversations about the meeting, the company, and CSD in particular, should be confined to meeting rooms. The bar is last place they should be held – and perhaps the first place I would be checking.
  • Phone calls back to the office should be conducted in the meeting rooms, or the individual’s hotel bedroom. Never, never conduct then in the halls. I may be standing near you.
  • The same is true of going over materials provided online. If I can see you, I may be able to read what is on your computer. That includes in the hotel lobby, as well as in an airport or on an airplane.
  • Who else is holding a meeting, training, etc. there? A competitor? A critical supplier or customer? While you do not have the leverage you do if you were booking a large portion of the hotel to keep them away[1], you can at least ask the hotel if any of your direct competitors (provide them with a short list) or other sensitive firms (another short list) will be there. If so, take extra care to protect everything.

Oh, enjoy the meeting.

[1] For more on security in such situations, see Rob Carey, “Meetings Security: The X Factors”, Smart Meetings, July 2016, pp. 76 et seq.