The pipeline review is considerably one of the most important tasks of any sales manager or SVP. But consider this—how often does it seem as if a ton of pipeline is being generated, yet at the end of the month you are scurrying last minute and issuing high discount deals as most of the commitments drop out? See accurate depiction of this happening below.
At Epos Now, we manage over 10,000 inbound leads a month across 10 inside-sales teams around the world. Almost 50% of those leads convert into opportunities. That’s 10,000 opportunities our reps are managing, each month! Thus, it is essential that all sales managers and department leaders stay on top of these opportunities and ensure each one is treated like gold.
Now, 10,000 opportunities a month across 80 reps may seem like a lot to manage. However, using the slick pipeline management process described below, our leaders can not only assure that every opportunity in the funnel is optimized, but also that they save hundreds of hours each year in admin time by avoiding the task of manually checking each lead and opportunity.
At Epos Now, our sales managers and SVPs use a simple 3-step process on a weekly basis to make sure that their teams’ pipeline management is pristine.
Secret 1: Check how many opportunities have progressed to each stage in the sales process
The first metric you definitely need visibility of is the overall pipeline broken down by stage. You need to know:
1) How many opportunities are in each stage of your sales process, and
2) The proportion of opportunities in each stage.
You obviously do not want too many opportunities bloating either the top or bottom of the funnel, as that would highlight potential issues related to poor qualification or sending out proposals gun-ho (see widget below on the left).
Second, to take pipeline management to the next level, the widget on the right hand side will come in handy. This will show the manager exactly:
a) What % of opportunities are actually receiving a demo,
b) What % of demos booked are actually turning up, and
c) What % of opportunities are receiving a proposal.
The ideal target would be 40% of opportunities demod, 80% of demos booked turning up, and 70% of opportunities with proposals being sent to.
Therefore, if a rep has a low % of opportunities being demod but a high % of opportunities with proposals being sent to, the manager can instantly spot a weakness in their sales process. Namely, they are probably sending out a high amount quotes without demoing the opportunity, with the hope of closing a fraction of them. Figuratively speaking, it’s the same as chucking s**t at the wall and hoping it sticks.
For instance, if you see the results below, one of our reps, Jordan, has a high % of demos completed but only a 60% turn-up rate, and only 50% of his opportunities are receiving a proposal. His training should focus on building more value in the discovery call to confirm more demos turn-up, and then sending a quote to as many of his opportunities as possible to build solid pipeline.
Meanwhile, Mark, another one of our reps, has a high turn-up from demos booked in, but a low % of demos completed and proposals sent. His training should focus on booking more more demos and sending more proposals, which should result in a boost to revenue generated if he combined that with his strong turn-up rate.
Secret 2: Check for opportunities that are stagnating the pipeline and holding up the average sales cycle
The next step is to see how you can get your reps to move opportunities along the funnel faster, leading to more revenue closed within the month/quarter and higher commission checks!
For a deeper dive into the age of each opportunity in the pipeline and to find out what the average age is per stage, I have created a report (see below) which presents data clearly to the managers. Rather than going through every opp and clicking into it I have added a few key columns to make it quicker to spot high risk opportunities.
The “Age” column shows the length of time in days the opportunity has been in the pipeline. The “Account: Future Tasks/Event Date/Time” column shows whether it has a next step or task associated with the Account; and the “Total Activities” column measures how many touches or contacts the opportunity has had.
Remember: the age of an opportunity means nothing without considering the context behind it. I know that our average sales cycle is only 7 days so if an opportunity is stuck in Discovery for 6 days or more and has no next step, I know it could be mismanaged and training on urgency/follow-up should be applied.
I can even view this data at a team and rep level to quickly provide a better context over which teams/reps need training.
Secret 3: Check for opportunities that aren’t being managed with next steps or accurate close dates
There is nothing worse than going through a reps’ pipeline and finding thousands of dollars in opportunities that have either no next step, missed calls and tasks or a close date that is overdue. That could have been money in the bank for you!!!
Luckily, with the SalesForce “Clean Your Room” dashboard this will never happen again. By creating one dashboard for each individual rep and another one for each manager/department head, you can ensure that you are enforcing the right behaviours on a daily basis. At Epos Now we have a “Clean Your Room Before You Go Home” policy.
Things that fall under the clean your room dashboard would be:
1. Opportunities with no future activity or next step,
2. Opportunities that have a close date which is overdue, and
3. Opportunities which have tasks/events associated with them that are overdue.
Below is an example of a reps’ individual clean your room dashboard below that they need to ensure is cleaned before they leave the office each day. As a manager you can drill into any of these opportunities below and can make certain they are followed up on in a timely manner.
Overall, with the practice of these 3 secrets to pipeline management, you can certify that your team/department goes into every day with strong pipeline management behaviours and a clear visibility of how to improve their sales process.
P.S. If you have any questions regarding the above, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org; and if you like what you just read, please share this article so that others might stumble upon this process.