The lost sale is an obvious target for follow up. You clearly want to know what you did wrong, if anything.
The competitive analysis information which comes from understanding what the competitor did to win the business is invaluable. While there will always be situations where the competitor had better features, functionality and service offering, it is important to continually validate what they have or do which wins business to see if you can improve your own position in these areas.
You also wish to find out whether you could have competed effectively on the elements which won the deal for the competitor. If you have the right offering but this was not properly communicated, that is very valuable feedback.
In a lost sale interview, it is worth reviewing the sequence of events up to the loss to see if you handled the process correctly in the earlier stages. Did you collect the right information, respond correctly, conduct yourself appropriately, offer the right level of information and support and properly interpret the needs of the prospect?
Generally, prospects who buy from a competitor will provide a frank assessment of your performance if they have been treated well during the process and you have retained their respect.
While not all will comment on the competitor offering, they will normally give good feedback on your own process, especially if they understand the purpose of the interview is to enable you to improve your sales process and product and service offering. You especially want to know if you could have won the business if you had done something better or had presented your proposal differently. Sometimes the competitor salesperson will tell you why you lost.
The win interview can be very instructive. You do want to know why you won and, rather than take the salesperson’s word for it, find out directly from the customer.
There may be aspects of the deal which the salesperson was not aware of and the reason for the win may not be superior product or salesperson skill. Again, you do want to know what you did right absolutely and compared to the competition. Even if you won the deal, find out what you did wrong, as few interactions are without fault even if you were successful in the end. Most customers will tell you why you won and often will provide good feedback on competitors.
If you find out you had a winning feature, function or approach, this information may be used to fine tune your marketing message so that you can exploit the advantage more. If there were customer requirements which you addressed in a better manner than your competitors, you might want to feed this back to your sales force.