On July 4th 2001, at Coney Island New York, the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog eating competition set a new record based on the performance of a 128-pound, 5’8” tall man from the land of the rising sun. The former hotdog eating record stood at 25 1/8 hotdogs eaten in 12 minutes and it was destroyed at 53.75; hotdogs eaten. The name of this champion eater was Takeru Kobayashi (or Kobi for short).
Kobi entered into competitive eating in Japan because he needed money to pay his electricity bill. He won his first event and felt confident that if he trained a certain way, he could beat out his competitors regardless of his size. So he asked himself the question that would alter competitive eating history. It was not, “How do I eat more hot dogs than my competition?” but was “How do I make hot dogs easier to eat?” With this question in mind, he began his relentless training.
He would try new strategies, videotaping himself and giving himself constant feedback, trying new strategies like eating hard for the first four minutes then easing up for the next four then sprinting for the final four. He would weight train and keep his weight stable. He kept spreadsheets of data on which techniques worked best and which didn’t.
He even developed the “Kobayashi shake” where he would wiggle around to get the food moving faster through his stomach. However, the technique that worked the best was the “Solomon” method (named after King Solomon), where he would break the hot dogs in two and ingest the two halves together, which required less chewing. In addition, he would dunk the buns separately in water so that they would slide down the esophagus more quickly and easily. These techniques helped Kobi to win six consecutive hot dog eating titles and hold over six Guinness World Records in competitive eating. All thanks to one simple question: “How do I make hot dogs easier to eat?”
Using Win Loss Analysis to ask (and answer) the right questions
Just as in competitive eating contests, it is training and techniques that will set you apart in your competitive sales situations. By asking the right questions, Kobi developed the most effective techniques to beat his competition. Asking the right question put him into the proper frame of mind to figure out the Solomon technique and make a career out of competitive eating. Similarly, a well-constructed win loss program will put your company in the proper frame of mind to develop strategies that will give you a significant competitive advantage.
A win loss program allows your sales leaders, product managers, marketing managers, and executives to identify the right questions to ask—the competitive intelegence questions that will lead to truly actionable intelligence. Just as Kobi went beyond the surface question of how he could win the eating competition, savvy win loss practitioners will not stop at answering the generic “How do I win more?” question and instead focus on the specific actions that will lead to success, such as:
How do I make it easier for customers to buy our product?
How do I make it easier for buyers to see the value of our solution in relation to the competition?
How can I better understand our buyers’ specific needs and concerns?
These and many other questions will help you to form a strategy that will help you in future win loss opportunities. In addition to asking the right questions, a comprehensive win loss program will give you the tools to analyze your information to identify the right answers. You may not be able to videotape yourself (like Kobi did) when you are interacting with your buyers during the sales process, but with a Primary Intelligence win loss program, you can record your post-sales interviews with buyers and listen back through TruVoice software to gain a better understanding of what the most critical and impactful issues were in the opportunity. Just as strong feedback in training aided Kobi in understanding what was working or not, feedback in a win loss program on what is working and what isn’t will allow your company to begin setting your own records!