How to Conduct a Prospect Feedback Interview to Up Your Sales Game

11-17-2019

Introduction

Prospect feedback interviews are an important part of an overall win/loss analysis. A study conducted in 2017 by CSO Insights shows a direct link between uncovering the reasons why customers stop doing business with an organization and the overall sales performance. But you can take this process a step further.

Unposed group of creative business people in an open concept office brainstorming their next project.

 

These interviews, along with a win/loss analysis can help you better understand why customers do business with you or why they don’t. The same study demonstrates these practices (along with a few others) help world-class performers attain 69.8% of their quota as opposed to the average of 53%. Clearly, the power of these techniques should not be underestimated.

 

In this article, we’ll answer the following questions: 

 

  • What is a prospect feedback interview?
  • Why is it important to conduct?
  • What are the goals of feedback interview?
  • Who should conduct it?
  • What critical questions should you ask? 

 

To help you to conduct sales analysis and take your sales to the next level, we’ve compiled an interview template you can download for free. You can make your way towards the bottom of the article to check it out. 

What is a prospect feedback interview?

Prospect feedback interviews are short form interviews conducted by someone from your organization or a third-party contractor. The main goal is to determine the reason why an opportunity was won or lost by reaching out to former prospects who were involved in each of those deals.

 

Prospect feedback interviews are a great way to gauge the effectiveness of your sales process, along with your marketing, lead qualification, product, and more. No one can give you this information in a more direct way than your customers (potential or actual).

 

To make the most out of the interview process, you need to repeat it with multiple prospects and look for overlap. This makes it critical to have a reliable and consistent interview process in order to eliminate as many variables as possible. If you perform it correctly, the feedback interview should give you a ton of valuable insight to improve your organization. 

 

Why is it Important to conduct?

You cannot perform a win/loss review without interviewing prospects. It’s tremendously helpful to hear the reason for the win or loss from the proverbial horse’s mouth. This provides a whole new angle you would otherwise always miss. 

 

These valuable insights can help your team improve the sales process and increase their win-rate. Feedback interviews are one of the best ways to identify weaknesses in the process and fix them so you can get better numbers next quarter. 

Improving your team’s win-rate is great, but for a SaaS business it’s often important to have a high retention rate, as well. Prospect feedback interviews are a great way to collect customer impressions and work on the product features. 

 

Finally, it’s a great way to determine the effectiveness of your organization’s lead qualification process. Good lead qualification means your team is only focusing on worthwhile prospects and not wasting time and effort on fruitless pursuits. Gathering more prospect feedback will allow you to improve your overall pipeline management and take your sales to the next level.  

What are the goals of a prospect feedback interview?

Prospect feedback interviews are a great tool to gather impartial insight into your organization from the outside. However, this is impossible to achieve unless you set the proper goals first. You won’t (or at least shouldn’t) approach a won opportunity and a lost opportunity the same way. The goals are going to be different.

Goals of Interviewing a Won Opportunity

Asking someone who’s already chosen your organization what informed their decision may seem counterproductive at first. However, learning from your wins is just as valuable as learning from your failures.

 

Interviewing a paying customer allows you to see your entire process through the eyes of someone who has completed your entire sales cycle. The interview will reveal: 

 

  • Why they chose your organization – what was it that convinced them you were worthy of their trust?
  • What part of your message reached them – this will provide useful feedback to marketing and help fix the misalignment between sales and marketing
  • Find out if there was something that could’ve prevented them from choosing you
  • Learn how they heard about your organization 
  • Identify your customers’ most important pain points and further improve your product
  • Find the feature or benefit that ultimately won them over 

 

All of this information will help you refine the best parts of your process. Once that’s done, you can focus on implementing the most effective strategies and drop the rest.

Goals of interviewing a Lost Opportunity

Interviewing a lost opportunity is much more complicated. You’re trying to get information out of someone who decided not to choose your organization. The intrinsic challenges that come with this condition cannot be overlooked. A very small percentage of prospects would even consider spending time on a company that wasn’t their top choice. This interview would be a race against the clock so you need to make every second count. You need to be clear on what you’re trying to figure out: 

 

  • What were their decision criteria and where did you come off short? This can help you identify potential weaknesses in your sales process that may be negatively affecting your win-rate
  • What was their overall experience with your sales team? Whether they only talked with one or several reps, you need to understand why it didn’t work out. Could be that:
    • Reps weren’t attentive enough
    • Reps were selling too hard
    • The lead wasn’t properly qualified
    • Your value wasn’t communicated properly so the price seemed too high
    • Reps over-promised in the sale and under-delivered with the demo
  • What did your competitor offer that you didn’t?
  • Was there a way to change their minds?

 

Learning all of this would not be easy without compiling your list of questions beforehand. You will only have a few minutes of the prospect’s time so make them count. 

Who should conduct the prospect feedback interview?

Now that the goals are clear, the question remains – who should conduct the prospect feedback interview? Should it be someone on the team or should you outsource it? We’ll cover some of the characteristics that make a good interviewer so it will be easy to figure out if you have someone like this in your company or you need to hire a third party representative.

What makes a good prospect interviewer? 

The interviewer needs to remain impartial and not get defensive, especially if they are interviewing a lost opp. Right off the bat, this disqualifies the AE responsible for the deal because many prospects will not be candid about their experience.  

 

The interviewer needs to be familiar with your organization and sales process. If you hire a third party, they should have experience with companies such as yours to make it easier for them to get in the loop. 

 

Other than being familiar with your organization, a good interviewer should:

 

  • Be a good listener
  • Have the ability to communicate with high-level executives
  • Be capable of leading engaging meetings
  • Know your product, customer pain points, USPs, ICP, competitive advantages, and more
  • Be persistent without becoming annoying
  • Be able to pinpoint the exact reasons for success or failure
  • Be capable of reading between the lines
  • Have the ability to process large amounts of information and turn them into an actionable process your organization can realistically implement

 

The most likely candidates within your organization would either be from marketing or customer support. They have the biggest proclivity towards understanding customers without being directly involved in the sales process. However, if you don’t have the right person on staff, it’s better to hire a third-party contractor so the job gets done properly. 

What critical questions should you ask?

There are many questions you should you ask during a prospect feedback interview. Depending on your goals, you will ask different questions, but here’s the top 5 that are absolutely crucial to ask, regardless of the closed deal’s status. 

  1. How well did we tailor our presentation to your needs?

Why should you ask this: This an important question to ask because whether you won the deal or lost it, it’s critical to understand if you presentation satisfies what the client was expecting to see.  This is a fundamental part of the sales process and something that needs to be continually evaluated. 

  1. Do you feel our sales reps could have done a better job listening to your needs? 

Why should you ask this: Good salespeople listen more than they talk. In order to properly establish the needs of the client, your reps need to listen first. Leaving the customer with the impression they were listened to is a great way to make them feel more important, which is a sure step towards winning an opp. 

  1. What ultimately informed your choice? 

Why should you ask this: Understanding the way your prospects make their choices is the best way to influence those choices. 

  1. How did our process compare to our competitors?

Why should you ask this: You shouldn’t be overly worried about what your competition is doing. That being said, it’s also a good idea to have some insight into their process. You can get some good ideas from the answers to this question. And you can gain additional insight into what your prospects are looking for in a business.    

  1. If you could change one thing in our process, what would it be? 

Why should you ask this: It’s by far the easiest way to get people to tell you what you need to fix in your process. Or at least what you can improve. Pay close attention to this question’s answers. If there are any points that repeat across multiple interviews, then it definitely warrants an investigation.

 

We’ve prepared a full interview template you can download

Conclusion

Prospect feedback interviews are a great way to supplement your analytics so you can improve your sales process, win-rate, and indeed your product. It’s the matrix you can use to peak into the minds of your prospects so you can take your sales to the next level.

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