<img src="https://ws.zoominfo.com/pixel/4z2e82sWyhmveGlCzuJa" width="1" height="1" style="display: none;">

How Milestones Help Sales Reps Manage Deals

Authored by Chisom Uche on December 8, 2016

Selling is just as much of a science as it is an art. The days of having great sales reps that you just trust to get the job done are coming to an end. The modern sales process is one that prides itself on being repeatable for any opportunity, scalable for any growing sales team regardless of the type of sales reps, and measurable to evaluate effectiveness. To get to the core, sales processes need to be rigorously laid out and be designed to be adaptable to morphing buyer journeys. A critical component for tailoring your sales process are milestones. Once you understand them, your sales process will come to life.


What are Milestones?

Most sales processes consist of a set of stages that show how deals progress through the pipeline. Most stages we've seen include MQL, SQL, SAL, Commit, and Closed Won/Lost. Just looking at that sales process, you might feel like you can run a sales operation with those stages. However, it assumes that deals move in a straight line, which may have been the case in the past but not in today's 'buyer controlled' world. In order to be sure that a deal is really moving along, it is important to develop 'milestones'. Milestones are the activities required to meet the objective of the stage. To set milestones in stages, you have to really analyze and define what it means for a deal to be at a certain stage. For example, a deal that has nothing but raving support from the target buyer but has not received sign-off from the financial team is not something you can move into 'Commit'.


Why are they important?

Milestones help set clear expectations for what the team considers a strong opportunity and they help managers understand the status of the deal without digging through notes or calling frequent meetings. While not all milestones that you create in a stage need to be mandatory, they should all contribute to separating a strong opportunity from a weak one. For example, if you already have the decision maker identified and in agreement, having the rest of the sales team is a great add-on but is not critical. The milestones include questions, activities, and content to send at the appropriate time. It also includes plays against competition and the other alternative decision of keeping the status quo.


How they help reps manage deals?

In the pursuit of defining milestones, it can be easy to go a bit milestone crazy. Remember that your sales process is still supposed to be fluid, you don't want to create a dam by throwing too many milestones into a stage. Always remember that milestones are necessary because they tell a sales rep the next step in a process. If a milestone isn't clear or isn't realistic in it's positioning within the sales process it will cause confusion. A rep should be able to end a meeting, check their remaining milestones, and have a clear ask from the prospect for next steps needed to keep the deal's momentum going. When it gets down to crunch time in a sales period, checking the milestones remaining on open opportunities and evaluating how much time it typically requires to achieve each of them will help reps prioritize which deals to focus on in order to hit their quota.

There is an added burden and complexity that comes with keeping track of the new milestones that will be created. While teaching an old rep new tricks may not be easy, you can always do things to help with the transition. It is essential that your reps have the stages and milestones at hand at the moment they are selling. Many sales optimization tools log milestones and stages for the sales reps and inform them when they are missing critical components of a deal when they try to move it forward. If this is a concern for your sales team, please contact us and we will show you how easy it can be to give your sales team a technologically supported sales process. To get more information about developing a rigorous sales process, check out our guidebook.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Lists by Topic

see all

Leverage these best practices with automation and AI driven by TopOPPS

Learn how our customers are winning with artificial intelligence in their CRM:

  • Predictive Sales Forecasting
  • Automated Pipeline Management
  • Significantly More Updates from Reps

Watch Videos

More Recent Posts:

March 26, 2021

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Sales Analytics

The next four blogs focus on best practices related to sales analytics to support an accurate sales forecast.  The previous four best practice blog series of:  Data Access and Enrichment, Sales Pipeline, Sales Opportunity Management and Sales and Sales Management Process set the foundation for accurate, timely, and relevant sales analytics to support the sales forecast.  This is the fifth category of the blog series “Best Practices for B2B Sales Pipeline and Forecast Management started on January 21st of 2020.  The ultimate goal of the analytics is to provide fact-driven information, interpretation and insights  across the four key sales roles: ...

Sales Automation, Sales Operations, AI for Sales, sales best practices, Sales Analytics, Sales Metrics

March 10, 2021

Xactly Acquires TopOPPS to Revolutionize Revenue Operations

Xactly and AI forecasting company TopOPPS set a new standard fordata-driven decision making throughout the Revenue lifecycle SAN JOSE, Calif., March 10, 2021 — Today, Xactly, the leader in revenue intelligence solutions, announces the acquisition of TopOPPS, a company focused on artificial intelligence (AI), sales pipeline management and forecasting. With this strategic acquisition, Xactly is expanding beyond Sales Performance Management to deliver a first-of-its-kind, end-to-end platform for Revenue Operations (RevOps). The combination pairs Xactly’s rich empirical data set and purpose-built AI with TopOPPS’ capabilities in one platform to advance the quality and scope of data-driven decision making throughout the revenue lifecycle. By introducing behavioral data driven forecasting and pipeline management, a new standard of intelligence is redefining revenue performance and shattering status quo thinking. ...

Webinars & events, Sales Process, Artificial Intelligence, Sales Pipeline Management, Xactly Acquires TopOPPS

February 22, 2021

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Quarterly Business Review

This blog focuses on the fourth part of the Sales Management Process, the quarterly business review[QBR].  These meetings are held at the beginning of each quarter and in lieu of the monthly sales strategy meeting discussed in the last blog.  These meetings are an integral part of the sales management cadence described by this blog series..  The QBR meetings are individual presentations by the sales rep.  Each rep is given 30 to 60 minutes to review their performance for the previous quarter and their game plan for the new quarter.  The previous quarter review should include a few opportunity postmortems of both close-won and close-lost opportunities.  The QBR meetings are usually done within the first two weeks of the new quarter and set the stage for hitting the current quarter goals.  ...

sales technology, Sales Process, Sales Tools, Sales Pipeline Management, sales best practices, QBR, Quarterly Business Review

January 15, 2021

Best Practices For B2B Sales - Monthly Strategy Review

This blog focuses on the third part of the Sales Management Process, the monthly strategy review.  These meetings are held on a monthly basis, usually twice a quarter, at the beginning of the months when the quarterly business review[QBR] is not being held.  This is a team call with the sales manager and his/her sales team, plus sales support and marketing.  While it may not be feasible to invite marketing to all the one on one’s and sales forecast calls, they should attend the monthly sales meetings and the QBRs.  This will help align marketing and sales. ...

sales management, Sales Process, best practices, sales best practices

December 14, 2020

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Sales Forecast Call

This blog focuses on the second part of the Sales Management Process, the sales forecast calls.  The last three blogs focused on Sales Coaching and One-on-Ones, the first part of four parts that make up the Sales Management Process.     A Word of Caution Both One-on-Ones and Forecast Calls are weekly meetings, but don’t make your One-on-Ones the forecast call.  One-on-One time is for the sales rep.  This is the sales rep’s  sales development time.  It is your time to help them become  A-players.  The Sales Forecast Call is all  ...

Sales Calls, Sales Forecasts, sales best practices, Sales Forecast Call

November 21, 2020

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Sales Rep Coaching-Performance Reviews

This is a continuation of the previous two blogs on sales rep coaching.  This blog focuses on reviewing the sales rep’s overall performance during a one-on-one.  In a series of weekly one-on-one meetings this topic typically comes up once every four weeks.   ...

sales management, AI for Sales, best practices, sales best practices, Sales coaching, Sales One-On-Ones

October 30, 2020

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Weekly Pipeline/Opportunity Review

This is a continuation of the previous blog on sales rep coaching.  The prior blog reviewed how sales rep coaching fits within the sales management process and outlined best practices related to “call coaching”, one aspect of sales rep coaching.  This blog focuses another aspect of sales rep coaching --  sales pipeline reviews and detail opportunity reviews.  The next blog will focus on the third aspect of sales rep coaching, sales rep performance one-on-ones.   ...

sales management, Sales Process, Sales Pipeline Management, AI for Sales, automated sales rep coaching, sales best practices, Sales coaching

October 16, 2020

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Sales Rep Coaching and One-on-Ones

Sales rep coaching and sales manager/sales rep one-on-ones are the catalyst for sales optimization and sales growth. They are also the tool for increasing the sales rep proficiency and converting C and B quality sales reps to B and A players.  Some supporting research from CSO Insights reveals a correlation between quota attainment and coaching.  The study found the better the sales manager coaching the higher quota attainment.   ...

Sales Executives, Sales Tools, AI for Sales, sales best practices, Sales coaching, Sales One-On-Ones