Why Change Isn’t A Good Thing for Sales Opportunities

It’s a few weeks from the end of the quarter – serious crunch time for the entire sales team.

As a sales manager, it’s your responsibility to review the massive pipeline of opportunities that are set to close in the coming weeks. At first glance, you feel confident that you’re on track to hit your sales goals, but you know realistically that a huge number of opportunities in the pipeline could push to next month or be lost entirely. It’s up to you to figure out what will actually close this quarter.

How do you identify the opportunities that will become deals out of the many that are just obscuring your view? Here’s how to track changes in opportunities to understand what’s really going on in your sales pipeline at the end of the quarter.

Signs of an Unreliable Opportunity

There are many signals that indicate an opportunity probably will not close this quarter. Salesforce defaults close dates for the end of the quarter, so many of the deals you see will not actually close at that time. This makes it incredibly difficult to create an accurate sales forecast and hit your overall goals.

However, tracking specific metrics will help you understand what’s really happening in the pipeline. A deal is less likely to close on time if it has:

  • Slowed Momentum – Deals that are 2x longer than your average sales cycle are unlikely to close quickly.
  • Higher-than-Average Value – A deal that is much larger than your average deal size usually takes longer to close.
  • Changes in Close Date – A deal that has changed close dates is less likely to close on time.

You should be tracking all three of these metrics to get an idea of which deals you can rely on to come in, and which opportunities will probably not close in time.

Tracking Opportunity Changes

If a rep pushes back the close date of a deal multiple times, you should be seriously concerned about the accuracy of that close date. However, that doesn’t mean every single change to an opportunity is a bad thing. You should be tracking every change to the CRM data so you can differentiate the positive changes from the negative.

In this report, you can see the at-risk opportunities in red, and the opportunities that are likely to close on time in green. The horizontal red lines indicate that the opportunity close date has pushed back by weeks or months, and the vertical red lines indicate the value of the overall deal has dropped. In contrast, the green lines indicate the deal is actually going to close sooner than expected, or will close at a higher value. It’s not enough to just monitor all changes in close dates – some changes are great news for the deal, while others spell disaster for your sales forecast.

Offer Push-Rate Coaching

Once you understand how often opportunities change close dates or value, and how that correlates to deals that push, you can work with your team to improve. You should be tracking not just the entire pipeline, but also the opportunity changes by rep over time. If a rep constantly commits to X, but always actually closes 2X – they are holding back on a number of deals and sandbagging their metrics. Another rep may promise X, but always delivers half of what was promised. These are important metrics for you to call out your reps on, and force them to own up to.

You need to coach your team and help them work the deals effectively, so they don’t have to change close dates or value so often. Has your rep talked to the prospects about the fact the deal is supposed to close in 2 weeks? Or is the rep just giving an inaccurate forecast and crossing their fingers? Coach your reps to encourage accurate data entry, and help them improve their results with metrics-driven sales coaching.

It’s vital to your sales forecast to know whether deals really will close within the time allotted. Because of this, you should be tracking every single change in close date and in overall opportunity value – so you really know what’s happening on your sales team.