Working with sales leaders who struggle with understanding the true state of the deals in their pipeline is an every day occurrence for my team and I. Many rely on information from their sales reps through phone calls, emails and meetings to gage how individual deals are progressing along combined with hours of digging through CRM data. The data lacks “real” understanding of which deals are progressing, which ones are stalled, and the ones that are falling out. One of the first things we do when implementing TopOPPS is to create alerts and reporting views to help sales leaders understand what is happening to their pipeline both on an aggregate and individual opportunity basis.
Which deals are progressing?
Of the three, understanding which deals are moving forward is the easiest for sales leaders to identify since sales reps keep that list top of mind. Most sales leaders rely on the opportunity stage, close date in the CRM, and communication with the sales reps to identify which deals are progressing towards close.
With TopOPPS, we can use the activity level for the opportunity along with positive check-ins by the sales rep to identify which opportunities have positive momentum at any time without having to communicate with sales rep. As quarter end approaches, these views can help sales leaders and sales reps understand which opportunities are closed, most likely to close and which ones are not realistic to close by end of quarter.
Below is a common filter our customers use to identify those opportunities that are moving forward. This includes the right contact level, a positive (and recent) conversation with the rep, and a defined next meeting date.
Which deals are stalled?
Stalled opportunities can be most difficult to detect. Too often, by the time an opportunity that has been identified as “stalled” it is actually falling out. The notification of a stalled deal needs to happen quickly so immediate action can be taken. There can be many factors that contribute to deal becoming stalled, but identifying which deals are stalled is the most critical part of addressing the underlying issues. One of the most common contributors to stalled deals is rep focus. Sales reps tend to focus on closing deals as they approach quarter end and neglect the healthy deals with future close dates.
The TopOPPS alert shown below looks for deals that are in a given stage longer than the average time by 10 days, deals with no activity in the last fourteen days, or deals with no recent sales rep check-ins in the last seven days. These are early indicators that a deal is stalling. With this alert, the sales rep is prompted to update the opportunity through a check-in and provide their assessment of the true deal status.
Which deals are falling out?
There can be a fine line that separates stalled opportunities with those that are falling out. While they have many of the same attributes of lack of activity and being in a stage too long, deals that are slipping can have additional attributes. These attributes can include the close date being pushed back multiple times and a longer time without any meaningful communications with key decision makers. When deals are slipping, it can become more difficult to turn them around. Like stalled deals, the sooner these opportunities are identified the higher the likelihood that the deal can be turned around.
The alert below identifies opportunities that are falling out that include a number of push-backed expected close dates, last activity exceeds 30 days, the deal is stuck in a stage too long, and the expected close date in at least 15 days sooner than TopOPPS predicts it to be. The called action for the sales rep is to perform a check-in and document what is happening with the deal so it doesn't throw off the forecast.
Real deal status affects the forecast
Sales leaders often have deals that are forecasted to close but should not be. This causes an unrealistic representation of what deals are expected to close in the quarter. Even worse, sales leaders have to spend hours digging through the forecasted deals to understand which ones will actually close. While stalled opportunities can be kept in the forecast, ones that are falling out should be removed from the forecast since there is a lower likelihood of these deals being closed in the current quarter. This is a best practice that we can enforce through the use of our forecast rules. Once the deal is moving forward again, it will move back into a forecast category for the current quarter. TopOPPS puts your forecast on autopilot!
Getting Up and Running
These three alerts are immediately set up after TopOPPS is installed in your CRM. Taking your CRM data, TopOPPS applies these alerts in a matter of minutes. Immediately you can gain a better understanding of the overall health and quality of your pipeline. Both sales leaders and sales reps benefit from real time alerts, eliminates a lot of CRM time and info gathering conversation. TopOPPS makes real deal status available on demand.