This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
There are three reports a sales manager must be able to obtain from their sales force automation or customer relationship software. Without these reports, the sales manager is flying blind. Let’s look at each of them.
New Opportunity Acquisition
First, a sales manager must have a view of the new opportunities their team is generating. I call this report a New Opportunity Acquisition report.
Any sales manager who is honest about where they place their focus and attention will admit that is often given to sales opportunities at the end of the sales process. There is so much pressure to make the number, they want to know which opportunities their team can close and by what date.
But no opportunity is closed that is not first opened. One of the primary challenges sales organizations and sales people now face is opportunity acquisition. By putting opportunity acquisition first, you are telling your salespeople what you value most. More opportunities equals more opportunities to win. It also means that the sales manager has fewer “must win” opportunities.
Pipeline with Days in Stage
Second, the sales manager needs a view of their pipeline that includes the days each opportunity has lived in that particular stage.
I once worked with a client who believed they had a very large pipeline, one that was more than enough to cover the number they needed to make. I asked them to run two reports for me. The first report showed the days each opportunity had lived in that particular stage. The second report removed any opportunity that had lived in a stage twice as long as the average time of this company’s won opportunities. This cut their pipeline by 80%. It was a massive reality check.
By monitoring the time it takes an opportunity to flow through the process, you uncover stuck deals. As an opportunity starts to age past the time an opportunity normally lives in that stage, you can test the opportunity to see if it is stalled. If it is, you can help the salesperson troubleshoot the opportunity and get it back on track.
But that isn’t the only troubleshooting you can do. Days in Stage can also help you uncover problems with the sales process. Every good sales process should have an expiration date, a date when you review it to make sure it’s still valid. If opportunities sit on stage too long, maybe something has changed. Maybe your prospective clients need something different from you. If you see a pattern, it’s worth investing to decide if you need to make changes.
Finally, Days in Stage can also uncover the sales force’s development needs. If the sales force struggles getting past a certain point in the sales process, they may have an underlying developmental need. As an example, if an opportunity sits in the acquisition stage too long, it may indicate that salesperson didn’t acquire the of the stakeholders early enough in the process.
Days in stage is a crucial report for diagnosing sales process problems and moving stuck deals.
The final report is client commitments. Opportunities don’t walk themselves from target to close. That path is really a number of commitments that the prospective client agrees to take with the salesperson. It’s a linking together of these commitments.
Whether the report you review is the salesperson’s calendared commitments the client has agreed to take or activities, it’s critical to capture and review these commitments.
All activity isn’t created equal. The highest value activity for a salesperson is most often the time they spend face-to-face with their clients. Reviewing their calendared commitments provides the sales manager with the opportunity to review the salesperson’s plan and their deal strategy. It allows the sales manager to ensure that the salesperson has everything they need to create value for the client during these interactions. Effective activity beats activity alone every time. This is how you ensure effective activity.
There are hundreds of reports you might pull from your customer relationship or sales force automation software. These three are critical management tools that can help you and your team sell better—and faster.