November is (nearly) in the books and, after a slower than average first two months of the quarter, your team is not quite on pace to hit its Q4 quota. Fear not; after all, December is traditionally one of the strongest months in B2B sales, as organizations get their ducks in a row for 2015 and find additional budget to spend. However, having an inordinately strong December to close out Q4 on top of your number requires one very important thing:
A robust sales pipeline.
Having the best people delivering the best performances isn’t enough if you don’t have the necessary pipeline supporting them. If you realize at the end of November or even in the first week of December that your pipeline is too small, there’s still time to fix that and generate more. The key is to know if you have enough sales pipeline coverage or not.
Industry Standard vs. What’s Right for You
Industry standards suggest that B2B sales organizations need a 3x Sales Pipeline-to-Quota ratio in order to hit their number. This means that if your quarterly goal is $1 million, you should have at least $3 million worth of opportunities in your pipeline. That’s a fine benchmark to shoot for…but is it necessarily the right one for you?
What if your opportunities convert at a better rate? That means you have more pipeline than you need to hit your quota – a pretty great champagne problem to have. But what if your opportunities actually convert at a worse rate than you thought, and you actually need a 4x, 5x or more pipeline coverage? Not knowing that could create false confidence; you think you have more than enough pipeline, but you’re actually woefully short.
Look into the past for answers. Studying your historical pipeline generated and your past conversion rates can shine a light on just how much pipeline you really need. If two years’ worth of sales results and accurate sales forecasts tells you that you only need a 2x Sales Pipeline-to-Quota ratio, then you can pull back on your pipeline generation efforts to focus on other areas of need.
But what if your data tells you that you actually convert only a quarter of your pipeline opportunities, meaning that your current 3x pipeline coverage for December is insufficient? That means it’s time to start generating pipeline at a rapid pace if you want any shot of hitting December. You can do that by…
- Working on a Closed-Lost campaign – These are opportunities that you’ve already lost once, but that doesn’t mean you’ve lost them forever. Now might be a good time to revisit these opps – since they’re already familiar with you, a change of mind on their part could portend a very quick sales cycle.
- Spend more on marketing – This is why it’s critical to always be tracking your percentage of marketing-generated pipeline. Knowing that marketing can help fill the pipeline – and, even better, knowing which campaigns fill it best – can help you prioritize your efforts in this time crunch.
- Call blitz! – InsightSquared was able to generate 3x more meetings in one day with a one-day call blitz, where every member of the sales team – including managers and executives – hit the phones. This isn’t a very sustainable long-term process, and could well produce a mass of low-quality leads, but if executed correctly on the first day of the month, it could really give your pipeline the shot in the arm it desperately needs.
Knowing that you have enough sales pipeline – or not – for the end of the year is crucial, especially if you’re depending on December to make up your quarterly shortfall. Dig into your historical data to get the actionable insights and take the necessary steps suggested above if you need more pipeline.