The sales funnel has long been considered a skeleton key for sales leaders. With one, easy-to-understand image, sales managers can quickly identify leaks and bottlenecks in their sales process, and use these insights to unlock a more efficient and effective way of running their sales teams. It is, to put it bluntly, a critical part of understanding and streamlining your sales process.
There’s only one problem: It’s surprisingly difficult for sales teams to get the data they need for a sales funnel from Salesforce. Admins and managers are forced to cobble together funnel reports, which is time-consuming and often inaccurate.
We know how critical it is for sales managers to gain a full understanding of their unique sales funnel, so we recently released our Free Sales Funnel Report on the Salesforce.com AppExchange. Managers who download the free app will be better able to visualize their conversion rates by individual stages and improve the performance of their teams…but they must first understand all the nuances of such a report.
Here are the What’s, Why’s and How’s of three of the most important metrics within any sales funnel report.
The Current State of your Sales Funnel
What is it? This most basic sales funnel report gives sales managers a snapshot of all the current pipeline opportunities, broken down by individual selling stages. They can quickly glance at this report to get a sense of how many opportunities the team is currently working on and what stages most opportunities are in. The historical data in this report also gives a sense of how the opportunity pipeline is growing (or not) over time.
Why is it important? For starters, sales managers can use this information to prioritize the opportunities that sales reps should be exerting most of their effort on. Opportunities that are more likely to close – based on current stage and how long they’ve been there – should be engaged with most heavily. Second, breaking opportunities by stage leads to more accurate closing probabilities, which ultimately produces more accurate sales forecasts.
How to use this sales funnel report? Every sales manager could use a more accurate sales forecast, and the information in this sales funnel report can go a long way toward producing one. Additionally, knowing exactly what to expect from each pipeline opportunity at each stage can help you set more realistic expectations for your sales team, leading to more motivated and improved performances.
Your Conversion Rates Between Stages
What is it? Conversion rates between stages tells you the percentage of opportunities that your team of sales reps is progressing from one stage to the next and so on down to the bottom of the funnel, where they are converted into deals. These rates are calculated based on the historical performances of your reps. While past performance is no guarantee of future results, it can provide a pretty accurate indicator. In the sales funnel report screenshot below, of the 314 opportunities in the Technical Fit stage, 247 – or 79% – advanced to the Closing stage.
Why is it important? This sales funnel report could be the most critical tool for sales coaching. Looking at this report gives sales managers salient coaching points of a rep’s strengths and weaknesses at specific stages of the selling process.
How to use this sales funnel report? Once managers have ascertained at which stages they are losing the most opportunities, they can go to work fixing those stages, or plugging leaks in the sales funnel. For example, if the team as a whole struggles to convert from the demo to trial stage, this should set off several warning signals in a manager’s head. Are reps struggling in their demo presentations? Are they not qualifying the right opportunities stringently enough in the first place? Answering the questions asked by this sales funnel report could lead to dramatically improved sales performances.
Conversion Rates Changing Over Time
What is it? As mentioned above, past performance is not necessarily a guarantee of future results, especially because conversion rates can change over time. This report lets you know if your conversion rates between stages are improving or declining over the past quarter or year.
Why is it important? Weaknesses cannot be corrected unless they are first identified. Studying conversion rates allows sales managers to zero in on specific weaknesses in a sales team’s execution or selling process. Are your reps retaining their sales coaching lessons and acting on it? If your conversion rate between stages is not improving over time, your current team of sales reps might simply not be improving.
How to use this sales funnel report? Management loves seeing results trending in the right direction, with a generally upward growth trajectory. If the previous two sales funnel reports have been analyzed and properly executed on, this last report should reveal the improvement and growth that will please CEOs and board members. Make this information available to the entire office for total transparency and to create a culture of motivation and healthy competition.