Improve the Quality of your Win-Loss Interview in 5 Mins

Posted on: November 27, 2023
By: Matthew Reeves

Home /  Blog /

One of the most effective ways to enhance the quality of your win-loss interviews is by crafting an exceptional introduction.

When the interviewer can give an engaging introduction, it primes every interviewee to share more useful insights more often. Thats Golden Nuggets for your time.

There are five essential elements to include in your win-loss interview introduction with example phrasing. It’s something a good interviewer can rattle off — conversationally — in 3 minutes, leading to a noticeable improvement in the quality and consistency of your interviews.

The 5 things (skip ahead if you like)

  1. Get permission to move the conversation on (without annoying them)
  2. Prime the win-loss interviewee to give the right information
  3. How to uncover harsh truths
  4. Reduce interviewees from self-censoring and holding back
  5. Make sure comments don’t get missed

Ok, here’s the full version

1. Get permission to move the interviewee along by emphasizing time limits

Busy decision-makers dedicate 30 minutes of their hectic day to participate in your win-loss interview. They might have already endured sales demos and lengthy discussions with your sales team, only to decide not to make a purchase. Now, you’re asking for more of their precious time.

In our view, this necessitates a high level of respect for their time. Your interviewer should be punctual, arriving five minutes early and ensuring the call concludes 2-5 minutes before the scheduled end time—no overruns.

It might seem obvious, but expressing gratitude for their time is crucial.

Phrasing idea: “Before we begin, I’d like to say thank you for making time for this conversation. I’ll make sure we stick to time and end within the half-hour. To do that, I might ask if we can move on to new questions at certain points, if that’s ok with you?”

Some interviewees may have urgent points to share, and it’s essential to respect them. Jump in promptly, address their ideas, and return to your interview script. This simple courtesy represents the first step towards obtaining higher-quality responses from your interviewees.

2. Explain the purpose, subject, and style of questions

Most interviewees won’t have taken part in a win-loss interview before, so it’ll be unfamiliar and perhaps nerve-wracking territory for them.

They might have participated in user or product studies before and anticipate questions solely about the product. Clarify the following

Phrasing ideas:

  • Purpose: “These interviews aim to enhance our understanding of sales and marketing. The primary subjects we’ll discuss are…”
  • Subjects: “…Your experience in researching and evaluating both our product and other options.”
  • Style: “…we don’t want to assume anything, so we may ask you to explain, clarify, or repeat things that might seem obvious. This approach ensures we avoid misunderstandings.”

Make sure interviewees understand that this isn’t a suggestion box that never gets emptied—their opinions can genuinely improve the product.

3. Give permission for the interviewee to speak critically

Contrary to what you might see on social media, most people are polite. They don’t want to tell you that your “baby is ugly.” However, in our quest to identify areas for improvement, we must uncover the less flattering aspects.

We need precise insights into which parts of our product, sales process, and brand image require improvement. Some individuals tend to censor themselves, leading to our next tip:

“When answering these questions, please be as honest and straightforward as possible. I won’t be offended or upset, and I won’t judge you. In fact, your honest opinion is the entire purpose of this conversation! If, at any point, you’d like your responses to remain anonymous, please let me know, and I’ll be happy to oblige. Additionally, feel free to express your opinions without reservation. Your unique experience is valuable.”

4. Remind interviewees that you want their feedback (not what they think others will say)

Some interviewees may perceive themselves as outliers—for instance, a client with unique needs or an organization with unconventional processes. When they think this way, they might dismiss their feedback as “not helpful” or assume it doesn’t represent other customers.

Address this concern directly: “I’m here to listen to your personal perspective so even if that’s not the same as your colleagues, or you have a unique situation from other companies, we want to hear about it.”

5. Give an avenue for additional comments

Similar to those moments when you think of the perfect answer to a job interview question hours later (maybe that’s just me?), your interviewees may have additional thoughts after the interview conclude, too.

A good way to get those is to give an avenue for what to do. It can be as simple as:

“We’re up on time. Thank you for all your feedback. If you think of something you wish you’d shared or added, my email is on the calendar invite. Just shoot me a note. I’d be glad to hear it!”


In summary, a stellar win-loss interview introduction includes the following five elements:

  1. Get permission to move the interviewee along.
  2. Explain the purpose, subjects, and style of questions.
  3. Give permission for the interviewee to speak critically.
  4. Remind interviewees that you want their personal feedback.
  5. Provide an avenue for additional comments.

Incorporating these elements can significantly enhance the quality of your win-loss interviews and lead to the discovery of valuable insights.

Contact us