Learning reviews are a waste of time.
Well, they shouldn’t be, of course. But the sad reality is that (from the perspective of the proposal team, at least), they usually fail to lead to any real change.
First, there’s the disconnect between the real reasons why a vendor lost and the story that buyer tells to the salesperson. So much easier as a buyer to send the account team away with “you lost on price” (and hence aren’t personally to blame) than to tell the whole truth.
Second, there’s the disconnect between whatever the buyer tells the salesperson, and the spin that the salesperson feeds back to their organisation. There’s a degree of self-protection at play, resulting in sanitised messages and “it wasn’t my fault”.
Third, there’s the disconnect between the messages the salesperson feeds back, and any learning specifically about the quality of the proposal. It’s vital for the organisation to know about pricing, solution quality and suchlike. But the proposal team need to know what the buyer thought of the document itself (and how it compared to those of their competitors), and these topics are rarely discussed.
And finally, there’s the disconnect between the outcomes of the review and the actions that should result. I can often look back over a dozen learning reviews that an organisation has conducted over the past six months, to find that they all show the same fundamental causes – yet nothing substantive has been done. If you don’t schedule the follow-up checkpoints with someone with clout – to take place (say) three months later – nothing will happen.