Categories Articles, Sales and Marketing

 Of all the opportunities in our sales pipeline – What did we win? What did we lose? What did we push?

- All Sales VPs at the end of the quarter

Between the first day of a quarter and the last, a lot can – and will – change. That is inevitable. For Sales VPs, it is absolutely critical to figure out exactly what is changing, why that change is occurring and how that change will affect the sales team, both presently and going forward.

Which takes us to your sales pipeline, and what you need for effective sales pipeline management: visibility.

And not just snapshot visibility – what state your sales pipeline was in last month, what state it’s in today – but real, holistic visibility that ties it all together. When you truly understand the in’s and out’s of your sales pipeline, and the various factors affecting it, you will have a more accurate pulse on the performance of your sales and marketing team and know which levers to pull.

Without further ado, allow us to introduce our NEW Sales Pipeline Flow report.

The factors that affect your sales pipeline

In any given time period – a week, month, quarter – your sales pipeline will undergo many changes. Some of these changes are great! Others are less desirable. Among these changes include:

  • New opportunities generated – from a variety of sources, including marketing, outbound prospecting, referrals and partners.

  • Increased opportunity values – some opportunities will increase in value during their stint in your pipeline; for instance, adding more licenses.

  • Decreased opportunity values – other opportunities might decrease in value before being closed; this could be due to discounts, or buying a smaller portion of your product.

  • Moving close dates – an opportunity that was scheduled to close in this month might have been pushed to the next. When that happens, the pipeline should be adjusted accordingly to reflect a more accurate pipeline count and value.
  • Losing opportunities – the hard truth is that you are going to lose some, if not most of your pipeline opportunities.

  • Winning opportunities – fortunately, you will also win some – hopefully most – of your opportunities.

Of course, winning opportunities are a change in the sales pipeline that any Sales VP would welcome with open arms. Increased opportunity values are also great, since you know that high-growth companies close larger deals. On the flip side, losing opportunities and decreased values can be bitter pills to swallow. Regardless of how unpleasant some of these changes might be, Sales VPs still need to see a fully holistic view for truly effective sales pipeline management.

Learn More About Sales Pipeline Management  »

After all is said and done…

…Sales VPs need to know where they are today, compared to where they were at the start of this time period, like the beginning of the quarter.

That’s where the Sales Pipeline Flow report comes in. The blue bar on the left is your starting point, your baseline of where you were at the beginning of the time period. The blue bar on the right is your endpoint, what state your pipeline is in at the end of the quarter. In between – represented by the green and red graphs – are all the twists and turns, trials and tribulations that your sales pipeline underwent throughout the quarter.

Visualizing the root causes of all your changes allows Sales VPs and managers to answer a critical question: why. Why is my pipeline changing? Is it because I’m generating lots of new opportunities, as evidenced by the first green bar? Yes, that played a major factor.

On the other hand, the fact that my team lost a lot more opportunities than it won in this time period – as represented by the longer red bar on the right, compared to the smaller green bar next to it – is a bit concerning. You need to dive into all the lost opportunities and figure out why you’re losing them, and how you can improve going forward.

At the end of the day (i.e. the quarter), our sales pipeline was a little bigger than it was at the start of the quarter, and that’s great! Consistent pipeline growth is a hallmark of any growing company. We can maintain the status quo in terms of pipeline generation – both marketing and the outbound prospecting team are succeeding – while emphasizing more sales coaching with our closing reps to win more pipeline opportunities than we lose.

 

Holistic visibility – understanding how various interconnected factors contribute to the whole – of your sales pipeline is crucial for effective sales management. That type of visibility isn’t possible or easy in Salesforce.com or other CRM. Stop operating blindly. Check out the Sales Pipeline Flow report today to turn on the lights and get the insights you really need.

 

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