One of the most common question sales leaders and managers are asked is “Are you going to reach budget this quarter?
A look into the pipeline provides the answers, but at first glance the numbers might not tell the whole story. What should you check? Ask yourself these questions.
Pipeline Management Checklist
1. Are you comparing quarterly budget to your total pipeline value or to a weighted pipeline?
There are different views on whether it makes sense to weight the pipeline. One view is that each opportunity is binary – ether it will become a sale this quarter or not. Another view, is that a weighted pipeline is more realistic because.there is an expected closure percent for each stage of the pipeline. Either way, it is important to make a conscious evaluation of the method you are using and why.
2. What is the length of your average sales cycle?
If you have NOK 1,500,000 in the first stage of your pipeline, but your average sales cycle is 4 months, then you want to review each deal. Is there a good reason to believe it will close this quarter or should the expected close date be changed?
3. Are there deals that are stalled or close dates that have been moved?
Are there close dates that have been moved more than 3 times or cases that have been stuck at a specific stage longer than the stage’s average number of days? If so, what is planned to move the case along?
4. Are there deals that have already passed the close date?
Usually deals that are past close date for the period are not included in the pipeline. Are they highlighted so they are easy to spot and follow-up? Perhaps they should be updated to ‘lost’ status?
5. Are there enough follow-up activities booked?
How quickly are leads being followed up? How many proposals are scheduled? Is a totally new approach to a case required? Keeping track of everything isn’t easy, but alerts can help. Perhaps a competition could motivate better quarter results?
Most salespeople will agree that managing a pipeline is a mix of art and science. The larger the organization, the more difficult it can be. Fortunately, with good process and the modern tools now available it is possible to spend less time managing and more time selling.
Good luck reaching budget!