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Best Practices for B2B Sales-Opportunity Attributes & Buyer Team Tracking

Authored by Ric Ratkowski on March 9, 2020

This blog reviews the tactical best practices for collecting information about a sales opportunity [opportunity attributes] and information about buying team members and roles.  Much of the information about the sales opportunity is not available electronically. The objective is to make it as easy as possible for the sales rep to enter it and provide benefit to the sales rep by presenting it in an intuitive manner to keep both sales reps and sales management up to date on the opportunity.

This blog is the fourth blog in the series “Best Practices for B2B Sales”.  The first blog organized the best practices along five key areas: Data Access; Sales Process; Opportunity Management;  Sales Pipeline Analytics; and Sales Forecast. The second blog divided up the first area, data access, into four key areas, including:  Sales activity dynamics, opportunity attributes, buying team members and roles, and company attributes. The third blog reviewed best practices as they relate to sales activity dynamics and described the framework for discussing best practices in a “baseline”, “good”, “better”, “best” outline.

Information About the Opportunity

The following table breaks down the problem/business need and best practice summaries related to collecting Opportunity Attribute information.  

Tactical Best Practices capturing Information about the Sales Opportunity [Opportunity Attributes]

Background

Information describing the sales opportunity are called opportunity attributes.  They are characteristics of a sales opportunity that make it unique, help others understand the nature and character of the opportunity and reflect the current status of the opportunity.   Attributes include things like: customer pain; key problem to solve; budget; number of users; status toward key milestones and business use case. Refer to the second blog in this series for more examples.  

Problem/Business Need:

Without an accurate understanding of the current state of an opportunity the sales manager must interrogate the sales reps every week on the key sales opportunities before starting to strategize on key next steps.  This makes the weekly 1-on-1s a compliance review rather than a strategy session.    

Without recording the current status of all opportunities in a CRM application, the sales rep’s prioritization of opportunities on a basis of “most likely to close” becomes more of a “gut” decision rather than a “fact based” decision.  Potentially some of the opportunities with the “highest likelihood of closing” are overlooked.

Without an accurate understanding of an opportunity it is difficult to know where the opportunity is in the sales cycle.

Requirements:

Opportunity attributes help optimize the sales process in two ways:

  • If the attributes described the opportunity sufficiently, sales management does not need to rely on the sales reps descriptions and weekly interrogations.  The weekly 1-on-1s become a strategy session. The sales rep-sales manager meetings spend more time on next steps with an opportunity vs bringing the sales manager up to speed.
  • If attributes are consistently recorded, patterns emerge across opportunities that help identify those opportunities with the highest likelihood to close.  The attribute patterns help derive a fact based ideal customer profile and help tune it for different market segments and close ratios. This also helps focus marketing and sales efforts on attracting those deals with the highest likelihood to close.

The need is to:

  • Make it as easy as possible for the sales rep to update opportunity attributes
  • Wherever possible, give the sales reps pick lists, toggles and check boxes rather than free form text
  • Have the system work where the sales rep works, email, calendar and mobile.  Provide multiple methods for the sales rep to update information via:
    • A mobile interface with the ability to dictate information.
    • From within the email application beyond just collection of emails but allow attribute editing through an email add-on.
    • From within the calendar application, beyond just collection of meetings, but allow the addition of meeting summary and additional attribute editing through a calendar add-on.
Baseline

Good

Better

Best

Sales reps update their SFA application for opportunity attributes 

System understands the significance of different types of attributes.  It is configured to assign different attributes at each sales stage to help judge which stage the opportunity belongs in.

System configures different “types” of opportunity attributes to help categorize the opportunity, i.e. Milestones, Ideal Customer Profile attributes, next steps/status.

The system provides both:

  • A configurable mobile interface to collect the opportunity information and work where the sales rep works.
  • An email and calendar interface that allows sales reps to update opportunity information while in their email or calendar. 

System provides “alerts requiring action” to the sales reps identifying missing information on the opportunity  based on where the opportunity is in the sales process.

The system allows sales rep/sales management to take action to resolve the alert from within the email add-on, mobile interface or desktop application.

 

The baseline is what currently happens in most companies.  The sales reps are expected to keep the CRM system up to date, while gaining nothing in return.  

At the Good level, the CRM system integrates with data providers like Zoominfo and allows reps to review roles within the target company and and manually add them to their CRM.  More advanced solutions like Zoominfo also integrate with different CRMs and allow users to select contacts and export them from Zoominfo and import them into the CRM with the push of a button within the CRM application.

At the Better level, contacts and roles can be added to the opportunity from email addresses attached to an email or calendar invite in addition to already known opportunity contacts.  Rather than playing “by-guess-and-by-gosh” on who to add to the opportunity, the system uses the buying team members on emails that are not known to the opportunity.

At the Best level combines concepts from the Good and Better approaches and makes suggestions about who should be added to the opportunity based on the typical buying group from past close one opportunities and sends alerts when all buying team roles are not present.

Next Blog Post

The next blog post will finish up the area of data access by reviewing best practices related to capturing company information.

 

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