According to research published by CSO Insights, less than half of all forecasted sales opportunities actually result in a sales win. This lack of accuracy is a nightmare for most companies, as sales forecasts are one of the primary ways to predict revenue. The root of the sales forecasting problem is not lack of data – most sales teams employ some form of analytics to build their forecasts. The problem is bad data.
The modern tech boom has produced an enormous amount of change to enterprise business models. Every aspect of the enterprise has been examined and targeted for disruption by startups and established titans alike. Some departments like IT, advertising and marketing have been experiencing upheaval for years. But sales organizations have remained mostly unchanged until very recently. For any company that relies on teams of salespeople to drive revenue, there are a number of tectonic shifts occurring that stand to turn the practice on its head.
Sales teams create some of the most valuable data of any department in a business, because theirs is the data that shows exactly when and how revenue is generated. When examined thoroughly and through multiple lenses, this data can often point to ways that an entire company can be improved. There are four key sales metrics to capture, analyze and compare in order to optimize a business:
Aaron Ross created an industry when he wrote his book called “Predictable Revenue”. In it, he advocated the use of specialized prospecting, or Sales Development, teams as a device to provide a predictable growth curve for a company. Most companies nowadays are adopting these teams not as a means to achieve predictable revenue, but as a pre-requisite to achieving any revenue.
I’m proud to welcome Don Otvos as our VP of Inside Sales and Sales Operations at Datahug. Don has over 20 years’ experience in high-tech sales leadership at companies like Yammer and App Annie. It is a huge moment for us as Don is one of the best known and well respected Sales Operations professionals in Silicon Valley.
We’ve all had situations where a salesperson leaves your company, you divvy up his or her deals among the team, and those deals wither on the vine because no one knows the key contacts or the real state of the deal. All of the time and effort spent generating that lead, qualifying it as a real deal, and bringing it to a certain stage of engagement is wasted, let alone the potential revenue.
How can you best manage the loss of a good rep?
It’s the beginning of a New Year and everywhere you look there are signs for cleanses, detoxes and fasts to jump-start 2015. Starting with a clean slate doesn’t just apply to personal health and is often overlooked in sales organizations.
Unfortunately, many pipeline reports are a little unhealthy right now, as deals that didn’t close last month ended up being pushed into the new quarter. Now you’re struggling to tell the difference between the opportunities that have a realistic chance of success and the ones that are well past their sell-by date.
How do sales managers know how much quality pipeline they really have?
Seth Godin wrote the book on quitting. “The Dip” describes how, in life, you can be more successful by picking your battles. His philosophy is that people need to learn the difference between what he calls “Dips” and “Cliffs”.
“Dips” are scenarios where it is worth being persistent. There may be no reward in the short run, but perseverance pays off over time. “Cliffs”, on the other hand, are situations where no amount of additional effort will lead to success.
So, how do you know when to quit on a sales prospect?
Many sales execs believe there is an ideal activity plan for deals of particular sizes and complexities. They put a lot of effort both into developing a taxonomy to classify each deal, and also writing detailed programs to work those deals. If only they can prescribe the milestones, triggers, and next steps, their salespeople ought to be able to close more deals faster.
Is a fully prescribed sales process always the best approach?
I started my career in a sales recruiting role with an innovative startup that set out to provide guidance and opportunities for salespeople, and to council and support rapidly growing Silicon Valley tech companies.
In talking with possibly thousands of sales professionals, I heard a common theme in what they were looking for in a new opportunity. They wanted money (no surprise there), but they also wanted support, a place where they can hit their number and – this is big – not to be micro-managed. Salespeople dread those tedious weekly meetings with over-zealous sales leadership where they walk through every opportunity and discuss the progress or lack of progress with every deal in the pipeline. At the end of the day, a salesperson wants to close as many deals as possible without having someone breathing down their neck.