Let’s face it. Most people aren’t that fond of taking retrospective surveys. They take up valuable time and just seem a little annoying, having to click through question after question about an experience long since over. But this is how many today gather win/loss data. It’s done “post mortem.” The deal is dead, the game is over, but we just hope to learn something for next time. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? The customer is thinking, “What’s the point?” as they fill out the survey. And sellers are thinking, “Man, I wish I’d known that earlier” when they read the feedback. Maybe, when it comes to surveying the sales experience, there might be a better way.

Sales people are always trying to get feedback as they go. They might ask:

  • “Does this make sense?”
  • “What other problems are you struggling with?”
  • “Did I answer your question fully?”

But dialogue is only so good at getting inside the customer’s head and depends heavily on the skill of the salesperson in conducting it. Also, we have to appreciate that buyers are not always fully comfortable with sharing feedback.

“In formal sales encounters, in-the-moment conversations only go so far,” says Timur Hicyilmaz, VP of Customer Research and Analysis at Challenger. “An in-the-moment survey, however, gets you the real data.”

As study after study done by Challenger makes clear: the seller is what matters to buyers in making purchase decisions. When we buy something—anything—the thing we’re buying that couldn’t be bought elsewhere is the seller’s product knowledge, the seller’s confidence, and the seller’s professionalism; in other words, the whole sales and purchasing experience. A good experience builds loyalty and a desire to buy more . . . and more often. A bad experience . . . probably no deal.

Think about the questions you would love to have answered during the sales process, but know you likely won’t get directly from the customer in dialogue:

  • “Are you getting the insight you need to motivate action in your organization?”
  • “Is that insight tailored well to engage members of your buying group?”
  • “Is this purchase process as easy as it could or should be?”

And so on . . .                                                                                                        

Traditionally, organizations try to infer these answers by doing retrospective surveys. They sample past deals and hope that customers still remember enough to provide useful feedback—or they make snap judgments based on the perspectives of the sellers involved.

Asking sellers to assess win/loss analysis and customer feedback tools creates a situation like the famous sales joke:

Two shoe salesmen show up on a remote island to break into a new market. After a few days, one salesperson calls the office and says, “I’m on the next flight. Can’t sell shoes here. Everyone goes barefoot.” The other salesperson calls the boss minutes later and exclaims, “Get ready! The prospects are unlimited. Nobody wears shoes here!”

We tend to side with the optimist for the moral of the story. But, in reality, either seller could be right or wrong. The only way to know for sure is to stop making assumptions and find out how the barefoot customers really feel about shoes. In other words, ask them.

Customer feedback is key. It can and should define the structure of current and future sales conversations. The sooner we get it, the more useful it can be in translating seller skills and competitive positioning into better business outcomes.

This is why Challenger created Loop: to give the customer an opportunity to provide (and sellers an opportunity to receive) powerful feedback on the purchase experience while it’s happening.

Loop reinvents the sales experience by surfacing previously unmined data and driving more authentic and curated coaching, which leads to better sales outcomes. Through Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing, Loop gives sellers and managers previously unavailable real-time B2B customer feedback to improve the customer buying experience.

Check out our webpage and sign up for a demo at challengerinc.com/loop.

Doug Rappaport & Spence Wixom

Spencer is Chief Customer Officer at Challenger, and has helped transform sales and marketing teams in some of the biggest and best companies in the world.

Douglas Rappaport is Manager of Content Strategy and Lead Generation at Challenger, with experience crafting and managing content in various industries and organizations including video games and marketing agencies.