Some people love to dig through yard sales and flea markets, searching for broken down junk that can be salvaged and transformed into beautiful furniture. Others work to salvage nearly-lost opportunities at the end of the month and turn them into real winning deals. Either way, salvaging is tough work – but in the right circumstances, it can be well worth the effort.
When salvaging old furniture, you’re looking for solid wood that can be restored, renewed and refinished. If you have the right experience, you can quickly find exactly what you’re looking for in a pile of junk. But in sales, how do you know which of your opportunities have the most potential and which are garbage? If you’re looking to select the right opportunities for your sales team to salvage, what qualities should you be looking for exactly?
As a Sales VP, your reps look to you for guidance and advice towards the end of a tough month. If you’re not quite at the goal line yet, you should focus all of your attention on opportunities that your team is most likely to win, and win quickly. Here’s how you can help your team sort through the many open opportunities in the pipeline and focus their efforts on the ones most likely to close.
For many sales leaders far from the goal line at the end of the month, the immediate impulse is to drop everything and chase after a huge, golden egg. You think that if you focus all of your energies on one huge deal, you’ll be able to close it and push your team over the goal line. However, If your team’s average deal value is $20K, going after a $150K deal is really a long shot. This scenario is like trying to win the lottery to pay off your bills – don’t hold your breath! Ideally, you should have been targeting the best and biggest deals possible throughout the month so that you don’t get stuck in a panic a few days from the 30th. But deals push, other deals are lost, and sometimes you get stuck in a bind. Instead of panicking and chasing deals that will never close, you should take a deep breath and stick to your sales process. Check in on the deals that you believe will close in the next few days, make sure you can count on them, and then start to analyze your overall pipeline to find the deals you need to focus on in the coming days.
Analyze Historical Win Rates
Instead of chasing huge, tough-to-win deals, you should focus your team on the deals they have a higher chance to win in the coming days. You can go after bigger deals in the pipeline, but you have to be strategic about it. To figure out which opportunities are the most promising, compare each opportunity to a historical analysis of past deals won. You need to understand in detail both what a winning deal looks like, and what a losing opportunity looks like. You should know:
- Each individual rep’s historical win rate
- Average winning sales cycle
- Average won deal value
This report combines all of these metrics, showing you your team’s “Strike Zone”, or most winnable deals.
If, for example, a rep is asking for your advice about a $100K opportunity that has been in the pipeline for more than 100 days, you immediately know this opportunity is probably a waste of time. However, if a $30K opportunity is 24 days into the sales cycle, this may be the perfect time to call and ask what you need to do to get the deal to close before the end of the month. With a huge pipeline of opportunities, this report can help you quickly re-focus your team’s energies.
Know Your Buyers
In addition to understanding your team’s win rate for deals of a certain size and sales cycle, you should also have a full profile of your ideal buyer. You need to consider what marketing content the prospect has downloaded, the prospect’s engagement in your platform, whether they’ve signed up for a free trial, and more. You need to understand what your company’s best buyers look like in terms of:
- Lead source
- Contact persona
- Product use case
- Platform engagement
The more a prospect engages with your sales and marketing departments, the better the deal may seem. However, that’s not always the case. If an opportunity is just downloading tons of top-of-the-funnel content and cancels meetings with your rep, this is not a good sign. You have to be able to tell if this prospect really looks like a buyer, or whether she’s just a tire kicker. If you have a solid buyer profile, you can discard some opps based on your team’s criteria.
Trust Your Reps
Once you use data to narrow down the opps in your pipeline, next you need to question each of your reps. Ask him or her honestly, which deal do you think is really going to close? You know that your reps have a tough number to hit, but you can only help them with a small number of opportunities in the last week of the month. You can jump on a call and help close a few deals, but only if they can tell you whether it’s going to be worth the effort. Your reps should be looking for other criteria that signals a good prospect. You can tell a lot from how a prospect offers objections in the sales process, for example:
- Prospect 1 gives your rep clear objections and reasons why the deal may not close in time. She says that the software misses one key feature, or that she doesn’t have the budget, or that her boss isn’t on board.
- Prospect 2 says, “I’ll let you know when I know what my plan is, and get back to you” or “I’m not sure about the whole concept of your product. Let me think about it.”
When reps are prioritizing their final days in the month, they need to know right away to focus on Prospect 1. The second prospect is irrational, evasive and won’t share clear information with reps, while the first rep is reasonable, honest, or has rational objections that the rep can overcome with the right effort at the right time. This type of information is much harder to track than the metrics, but should also go into your decision making process.
By strategically using a combination of your rep’s personal knowledge and detailed analytics, you’ll be able to prioritize the opportunities your team can close in the coming days. With the right effort and some hard work, you can turn a piece of junk opportunity into a beautiful new deal in no time.