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How And Why To Use Expected Revenue For Sales Forecasting

How And Why To Use Expected Revenue For Sales Forecasting

Not having an accurate revenue forecast is the bane of many sales managers’ lives.

Gut feel just won’t cut it.

Nor will a top-down percentage applied across all open opportunities.

Moreover, executives often dismiss the Expected Revenue report in salesforce as irrelevant or inaccurate.

That’s a pity.

Used correctly, the Expected Revenue report is a realistic forecast of future sales. It’s a sales forecast that stands up to detailed analysis and scrutiny.

But here’s the rub with Expected Revenue.

If the Opportunity Probability is wrong then so is your Expected Revenue forecast.

Unfortunately, the Opportunity Probability IS usually wrong.

It’s wrong because in most salesforce implementations, the probability links directly to the Opportunity Stage. It reflects how far the Opportunity is through the sales process. However, it doesn’t say anything about the chances of winning the deal.

But this relationship can be uncoupled. It’s even possible to set Opportunity Probabilities automatically, based on proven historical evidence.

That way, the Expected Revenue report becomes a realistic revenue forecast and a key sales performance indicator.

That’s the holy grail of sales management.

Expected Revenue Defined

Let’s be clear what we’re talking about here.

Expected Revenue (or Weighted Revenue if you prefer) is the Opportunity Amount multiplied by the Probability. That gives a dollar value for each Opportunity.

Add up these dollars for all your open deals and you have the Expected Revenue for each month or quarter.

If you calculate Expected Revenue on a realistic basis, sales manages know where they stand in relation to future sales targets.

That means decisions that drive sales team behavior are better informed.

For example, if the Expected Revenue is higher than the sales target, focus heavily on closing the deals you already have.

Alternatively, if the Expected Revenue is too low, then the sales team must generate more pipeline to meet target.

The Power of Expected Revenue

Many sales managers dismiss Expected Revenue as irrelevant.

That’s because it relies on calculating the weighted value of each Opportunity. Yet the outcome of each deal is a win or a loss. The full value of the Opportunity is won – or nothing is won.

It’s a binary outcome.

But wait a moment.

Let’s say you have a number of deals due to close next month or next quarter. You will win some and lose some.

The problem is you do not know which will be which. Crystal balls are hard to find.

Suppose you knew this information in advance. You would take 100% of the value of those opportunities that you will win. Likewise, you’d take zero value of the deals that will be lost.

But life isn’t like that.

Other than gut feel, you don’t know which will be won.

However, creating a forecast based on Expected Revenue is the way round that. The catch is it relies on setting a realistic probability for each opportunity.

The Problem with Opportunity Probability

The Opportunity Probability is wrong on many deals because it links only to the Opportunity Stage.

If the Stage moves forward, the Probability automatically increases. That happens irrespective of whether your chance of winning the deal has increased.

For example, let’s say four similar companies are pitching for a deal. They all have an Opportunity Stage called Needs Analysis. And let’s say they all have the Opportunity at 25% Probability.

All four sales teams submit their proposals. They all move the Stage onto Proposal Submitted – which for each company, has an Opportunity Probability of 30%.

All other things being equal, the individual chance of any one sales team winning the deal has not changed. There are four of them left. So each one has a 25% chance of winning.

In fact, it’s probably less than 25% because the prospect may decide not to proceed with any purchase.

However, the total Expected Revenue for each individual Opportunity has increased. Indeed, across the four combined companies, the total probability is 120%.

That clearly doesn’t make sense.

It means that a reliable Expected Revenue forecast needs a better way to estimate opportunity probability.

The Probability of Winning a Deal

For any one company, the Probability of successfully closing an Opportunity is dependent on many factors.

These might include geographic sector, product category, tender versus pitch deal and so on.

For our purposes, let’s consider two factors that apply to many businesses:

  • New or existing customer. Usually the chance of winning a deal is significantly higher with an existing customer compared to a new prospect.
  • The effectiveness of the sales person. Some sales people consistently close more deals compared to the rest of the team.

This where we need to consider history.

In financial services, there’s usually a warning that past performance is not an indicator of future returns.

With sales teams, it’s different. Past performance is an excellent indicator of future returns. We can use that to our advantage.

By extrapolating the Opportunity Probability from similar historic deals, it’s possible to forecast the future. It’s possible to confidently predict Expected Revenue.

Historic Opportunity Conversion Rates

We have implemented functionality for our customers to gather data on historic opportunity probabilities and conversion rates.

New versus Existing Customer conversion rates

Look at the report and dashboard table below.

It shows the difference in opportunity conversion rates between new and existing customers.

Report and dashboard chart compares the difference in opportunity conversion rates between new and existing customers.

The report and chart tells us about conversion rates for existing versus new customers. For example:

  • 41% of all Opportunities with existing customers were successfully won, compared to 34% for new customers. See the “1. Prospecting” row in the report.
  • 58% of Opportunities with existing customers that entered the “2. Investigation” Stage were won. This compares with 53% of Opportunities that entered the same Stage for new customers.
  • 76% of Opportunities with existing customers that entered the “3. Proposal Made” Stage were successfully won. This compares with 65% of Opportunities that entered this Stage for new customers.
  • 92% of Opportunities with existing customers that entered the “4. Negotiation” Stage were won. This compares with 79% of Opportunities that entered this Stage for new customers.

In other words, the report provides the information we need to differentiate Opportunity Probability between new and existing customers.

This is the starting point for more accurate Expected Revenue forecasts.

Sales person conversion rates

Now, let’s consider the difference in opportunity conversion rates between sales people.

Compare the difference in conversion rates between salespeople.

The report shows that Dave Apthorp wins 60% of all his Opportunities compared to 27% for Peter Hemsworth and 36% for Shaun Yates. This is shown in the “1 Prospecting” row.

Look at other rows in the report. They tell us the Opportunity Conversion rate that for Opportunities that move into each Opportunity Stage.

For example, of all the deals that enter the “4 Negotiation” Stage, Dave successfully closes 90% compared to 78% for Peter and 86% for Shaun.

Accurate Expected Revenue

Our customers use the information in these reports to calculate Expected Revenue accurately.

To do this we need a custom Opportunity Probability field.

The field populates by a formula, based on the information we garnered from the conversion reports.

Let’s take an example.

Here’s an Opportunity for £15,000 with a New Customer. It’s in the Investigation Stage.

Based on the standard method, the Opportunity Probability is 25% and the Expected Revenue £3,750.

Expected Revenue using standard approach.

However, we know from our reports that 47% of Opportunities with new customers that enter the Investigation Stage are successfully closed.

That figure automatically enters our custom Opportunity Probability field. Now the Expected Revenue becomes £7050.

Expected revenue with probability adjusted for new customer.

Alternatively, let’s consider what happens if this Opportunity is for an existing customer.

We know that 58% of all Opportunities with existing customers that enter the Investigation Stage close successfully.

Therefore, that figure automatically enters our custom Opportunity Probability field. This time the Expected Revenue is £8,700.

Expected Revenue adjusted for existing customer.

In other words, a realistic Opportunity Probability, based on historic conversion rates, automatically populates for each opportunity.

This, in turn, provides a more realistic (and in this case higher) Expected Revenue.

Accurate Expected Revenue Forecasts

Expected Revenue calculates by multiplying the opportunity probability by the value of the deal.

The problem is that our probabilities link directly to the Opportunity Stage.

However, if we use historical facts it’s different.

We know that 58% of Opportunities with existing customers that enter the Investigation Stage close successfully.  We know that Dave Apthorp successfully closes 60% of all his Opportunities, compared to 36% for Shaun Yates.

Now we can use these facts to set realistic Opportunity Probabilities and drive accurate Expected Revenue reports.

And accurate Expected Revenue reports mean accurate sales forecasts.

To find out more about how to create an accurate sales forecast using Expected Revenue in your business, simply get in touch.

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How To Track Revenue Over Time In Salesforce

How To Track Revenue Over Time In Salesforce

Many businesses need to track revenue over time in salesforce.

For example:

  • Capital equipment items that the customer draws down or pays for over time.
  • Professional services to deliver projects over time.
  • Maintenance contracts in which revenue spans 12, 24 or 36 months.
  • Software-as-a-Service (Saas) licenses on fixed term or open-ended contracts.
  • Transactional items in which you anticipate the customer will buy a significant volume over goods every month, but with no guaranteed amount.

Do any of these apply to you? Perhaps several do.

It’s common for businesses to have a mix of different revenue streams over time on the same opportunity, some managed by framework agreements.

Unfortunately, many companies do one of two things when it comes to tracking revenue over time in salesforce.

The first is they perform this critical activity outside salesforce. They perceive it’s simply too difficult to do in the system.

This means those companies lose valuable visibility of committed and scheduled revenue. This impacts account management, business development, target tracking, revenue forecasting and performance management.

Alternatively, they add numerous fields to the opportunity. These fields capture revenue for Q1, Q2 and so on for each year.

Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to produce meaningful reports this way. It also results in one heck of a mess on the page layout.

There’s no need to take either of these routes.

It’s perfectly possible to track revenue over time in salesforce. The result is a significant increase in the benefits you generate from your salesforce licenses.

Two ways to track revenue over time in salesforce

Essentially, there are two options.

Option 1 is to use the standard product schedules feature in salesforce. This works well for many businesses. However, there are significant limitations, which we’ll explain.

Option 2 is to use a custom schedule solution. This solves the limitations of the standard schedule functionality. It’s a dynamic and powerful approach to tracking revenue over time in salesforce that is already benefiting many of our customers.

So let’s start with the standard approach.

Option 1 – Standard product schedules

Here’s how the standard product schedule feature works in salesforce.

The salesperson adds one or more Products to an Opportunity in the normal way.

The salesperson then creates a Schedule for each line item. They do this by clicking on the product line item on the opportunity, then on the Establish button.

This provides the page to enter the details about the schedule for that product on the opportunity.

This generates the product schedule that tracks revenue over time for the first product.

The salesperson repeats the process for any other products on the opportunity.

Advantages of standard product schedules

  • It’s standard functionality with no need to purchase separate app or salesforce.
  • Reports and dashboard chart can track revenue over time using standard product schedules.

Disadvantages of standard product schedules

  • The user interface is cumbersome. For example, the salesperson must drill down to each product line item in order to create the schedule.
  • If the opportunity close date changes, the schedules do not automatically shift. However, you can solve this problem with our Schedule Shifter app.
  • It’s impossible to customize or adapt the standard schedules. For example, you cannot add a Status field to track Booked, Shipped, Invoiced, Paid values. You also cannot schedule by margin or other values.
  • There’s no ability track committed and pipeline revenue over time against current and future targets.

The standard approach is appropriate if you normally have only one product per opportunity and you want an out-of-the-box way to track revenue over time.

Option 2 – Custom Schedules

A custom schedule approach overcomes the limitations of the standard product schedule feature.

Tracking revenue over time in salesforce using custom schedules means you can:

  • Forecast both committed and pipeline revenue over time.
  • Compare revenue over time in salesforce with targets.
  • Update revenue you previously forecasted based on ‘actuals’.
  • Adjust forecasts of future revenue based on current expectations.
  • Analyse revenue over time by product category, territory and other parameters.

Your system administrator can build the custom schedule solution, alternatively or you can use the pre-built GSP Custom Schedule app. We’ll demonstrate how the app works here.

When the salesperson adds one or more products to the opportunity then several additional fields are available.

For each product, these fields define:

  • The method of scheduling the revenue over time. More on this below.
  • The start date when the revenue over time will begin.
  • The number of months for the revenue over time.

Clicking Save simultaneously adds the products to the opportunity AND the associated revenue schedules.

At any time, salespeople can use the Edit Line Item Schedules button to return modify the schedules and change the way salesforce tracks the revenue over time.

Close Date changes

If the opportunity close date changes at any point, then the custom schedules automatically adjust by the same number of days.

For example, if the opportunity close date moves by 20 days then all schedules that track revenue over time also shift by 20 days. This avoids salespeople continuously re-aligning schedules and maintains the accuracy of revenue forecasts.

Track revenue over time in reports and dashboards

Additional information is stored on the schedule including product, margin details and ‘actuals’. This information is available for reports and dashboards.

Track revenue over time against Target

Each custom schedule links automatically to a Target record. This means salespeople and managers can immediately assess whether there is sufficient committed and scheduled revenue over time to meet quota.

Straight-line and S-curve revenue forecast

It’s easy to understand why you want to schedule revenue over time in salesforce using a straight line.

Service contracts, maintenance agreements, repayments on capital goods, Saas licenses – they all need the ability to track revenue over time in a straight line.

However, project work is often different. For example, frequently you have a period of mobilization in the early stages. Then you get into the heavy lifting of the project. Finally a period of testing and commissioning in which the revenue tails off.

An s-curve therefore accurately tracks the revenue on month projects. With the GSP Custom Schedule App, simply select the S-curve option in defining the schedule. The app automatically schedules revenue over time in an S-curve profile.

Advantages of standard product schedules

  • Easy for salespeople to us.
  • Flexibility to define different revenue profiles over time for each opportunity product.
  • Forecast accuracy is maintained because schedules automatically shift when the close date changes.
  • Track additional information over time including margin and actuals.
  • Track pipeline and committed revenue over time in salesforce.

Disadvantages of standard product schedules

  • Requires more setup than the standard product schedule feature (although our app takes care of this).

Many business already track revenue over time salesforce. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need our help in becoming one of them.

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12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts | With Video And Examples

12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts | With Video And Examples

Salesforce dashboards to increase visibility of the sales pipeline and improve forecasting accuracy.

There’s no doubt about it.

That’s the number one reason businesses invest in salesforce licenses.

Yet many sales managers are frustrated.

They still do not have the salesforce dashboard charts that give visibility into the size, quality and trend in the sales pipeline needed to forecast accurately. They also can’t look back at historic results to gain the insight that will drive improvement in future sales performance.

But that problem can be fixed.

Here are examples of the 12 must-have salesforce dashboard charts that every sales manager needs.

These salesforce dashboard charts, and the underlying reports, give tremendous visibility into the sales pipeline and sales performance. For each dashboard chart, we also point you to a dedicated blog post and other resources for even more in-depth information.

In the interests of brevity we’ve ignored variations of these charts. These variations can provide additional insight for your business by analyzing sales performance by product, campaign, territory, customer type and so on. Use the charts examples recommended in this blog post as the core building blocks to create your organization-specific salesforce dashboard and reports.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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1) Closed Won Opportunities by Month


We all want to know how much sales revenue has been won. That’s what the Closed Won Opportunities by Month dashboard chart tells us.

The chart shows how much sales revenue the company has achieved during the financial year.

Closed Won Opportunities chart on the salesforce dashboard measures revenue achieved this financial year.

In this example, the dashboard chart and underlying report summarize the information by individual sales person. If you have a larger sales organization, then group the chart by team, country or territory.

The dashboard chart and report give top-level insight into sales performance. In our example, Dave Apthorp is consistently the top performer. Sarah has improved her performance significantly after a poor start to the year. Peter, in particular, can benefit from coaching and training to improve his performance.

Combine this information with your personal knowledge of each team or individual to get an immediate overview of sales performance across the company. Use the other dashboard charts that analyze historic performance (for example conversion rates, average deal size) to determine the specific support and actions each person needs to take in order to increase their sales results.

Incidentally, the trick here – as with many salesforce dashboard charts – is to create the graph as a stacked bar chart and the underlying report as a Matrix report. Yes, it’s slightly easier to create a Summary report. However it’s only a small step further to create a Matrix report. And the results are so much more powerful.

Of course, the Closed Won Opportunities by Month dashboard chart doesn’t tell us anything about future revenue performance. That’s where the other pipeline charts we recommend come into play.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Closed Won Opportunities salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Closed Won salesforce dashboard chart:

10 Illuminating Ways To Measure Closed Won Deals. Examples of other ways to analyze historic sales performance.

When Is A Report Not A Report. Demonstrates why Matrix Reports are nearly always better than Summary Reports.

2) Pipeline Deals by Close Date and Opportunity Stage


If you only use one dashboard chart to manage the sales pipeline then make sure it’s this one.

Opportunity pipeline report and chart on the salesforce dashboard shows deals due to close over the coming months.

The chart shows the value of Opportunities that are due to close each month. Within each month, we can see the deals in terms of the Opportunity Stage. Stacking the chart by Stage gives visibility of the overall health of the funnel.

The Pipeline Opportunities By Close Date and Opportunity Stage dashboard chart delivers the fundamental information needed to manage the sales funnel. Sales managers and executives can use this chart to assess the size of the pipeline and to begin forecasting future revenue.

This dashboard chart also tells us whether the pipeline is sufficiently mature this month and next month to achieve revenue targets. This means managers and salespeople have an early warning that tells them when remedial action is necessary

For example, let’s assume we are in January.

There’s a substantial amount of pipeline due to close this month that is still in Prospecting and Investigation. If, for example, our typical sales cycle is 3 months, are we confident these deals will close in January? Are they at the right Opportunity Stage? Should these opportunities be scheduled to close in a later month?

What about the deals in April that are in the Negotiation Stage? Is it really going to take 4 months to close these opportunities? Maybe. Or are there steps we can take to bring these deals forward?

A key variant of this dashboard chart is the Pipeline Opportunities by Close Date and Owner.

Examine the pipeline by opportunity owner using this salesforce dashboard chart.

Use the summary by Owner to identify which teams or salespeople have the most pipeline due to close both this month and in the longer term.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Opportunities by Close Date and Month salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Pipeline by Month and Stage salesforce dashboard chart:

If You Only Create One Dashboard Chart Make It This One. This blog posts gives more examples of how to use this dashboard chart and includes a video by Gary demonstrating the chart in action.

Don’t Let The Best Sales Dashboard Chart Look Like A Bedraggled Washing Line. Explains what to do if too many opportunities with Close Dates in the past make your beautiful chart look like a washing line!

3) Sales Funnel Chart


The sales funnel chart should be on your dashboard because it’s a good graph to look at – once a week.

The sales funnel salesforce dashboard chart reveals whether the pipeline shape is in proportion.
Here’s the thing about this chart. The shape never changes.

It doesn’t matter how big or how small your pipeline is. The outline funnel shape will always be the same size and shape on your dashboard.

So why bother with it?

Well, the answer is because of the value of the information the segments within the funnel give you.

If the sales funnel was in perfect shape, the value of the pipeline in each segment would get progressively smaller.

But that’s not always the case. In fact, if you look at our example, the value of deals in Investigation is less than the value in Customer Evaluating. In other words, the later Stage has more pipeline than the preceding Opportunity Stage.

Look also at the Prospecting Stage. A significant number of deals may be qualified out at this initial stage. So, should the Prospecting Stage be larger?

In other words, the chart is warning that your pipeline may be out of shape. Potentially we need to initiate marketing campaigns to boost the size of the early-stage funnel. We may also need to examine our qualification and investigation processes in order to move deals more effectively through the sales cycle.

Is the shape of the sales funnel chart in your business a cause for concern? Only you know the answer to that question within the context of your sales team.

But that’s why it’s a good chart to look at once a week.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the sales funnel salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the sales funnel dashboard chart:

Big is Beautiful: 4 Easy Charts To Measure Pipeline Size. Demonstrates the sales funnel and other dashboard charts that measure pipeline size.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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4) Top 10 Pipeline Accounts


In most companies, the sales team will be able to nominate immediately the top one or two prospects.

But what about the top 5? Or the top 10?

The Top Pipeline Accounts table shows customers and prospects ranked by total pipeline. This helps managers and salespeople in prioritize their time. It means salesperson effort, time and other resources is focused on areas where it is likely to have the greatest impact.

Prioritize salesperson time and effort using the Accounts with most pipeline salesforce dashboard chart.Displaying the information on a dashboard table is a good way of focusing attention on the top Accounts. Limit the dashboard table results to the top 5, 10 or 15. Then on the underlying report, list all Accounts with Open Opportunities.

In our example, we can see that High Hill Estates has the greatest amount of pipeline. In fact, it has twice as much sales pipeline as the next nearest Account.

Are we proactively managing the relationship with this Account? Is a robust key account management plan in place? Do we understanding their buying process? Have relationships been established at multiple levels? Has a clear close plan been established and validated with the customer for each opportunity?

The underlying report shows the constituent Opportunities for each Account. Can a large, single deal be done if the report reveals the total figure for High Hill Estates comprises multiple, separate opportunities? Indeed, if the CEO has time to visit only one Account, let’s make it this one.

In short, the Top 10 Pipeline Accounts dashboard table and report provide the essential information that helps executives prioritize the companies’ sales, account management and business development activities.

And don’t forget, like any other dashboard chart, replicate the table at territory, team and individual salesperson level to prioritize activity at all levels in your sales organization.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Top 10 Accounts salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Top 10 Accounts salesforce dashboard chart:

How To Build Key Account Plans In Salesforce. Demonstrates examples of key account planning within salesforce.

Stop Guessing, Start Measuring Key Accounts. Reports and salesforce dashboard charts that measure key account performance.

5) Long-Term Pipeline Trend


Dashboard chart numbers 2 to 4 describe the sales pipeline as it stands right now.

But what about the trend in the size of the sales funnel over time? Is the pipeline increasing or decreasing in size?

The Sales Pipeline As-At chart gives us the answer. It measures the size of the pipeline ‘As-At’ the 1st of each month. As such, it shows the long-term trend in the size of the sales pipeline.

The Long Term Pipeline trend dashboard chart shows the size of the sales pipeline on the first day of each month.Grouping the information by Historical Stage gives additional insight on the make-up of the sales pipeline. It allows us to understand the overall trend by Opportunity Stage.

In our example, the pipeline has been growing over recent months. This is largely due to a significant increase in deals in the Prospecting Stage. That’s good news. Do we understand why it has happened?

We may also want to investigate why the size of the pipeline in the Customer Evaluating and Negotiation Stages has declined. Are the sales team having trouble moving deals through the sales process? Was the pipeline created over the last few months of the right quality?

The As-At Pipeline chart has a little sister. It’s called Opportunities with Historical Trending. This chart measures the short-term trend in the pipeline. For example, the trend in the size of the pipeline over the last 4 weeks.

Use the dashboard charts in tandem to understand the trend in the size of the pipeline. The As-At report gives the big picture – it tells whether efforts to grow the pipeline in the long-run are effective. The Historical Trending chart demonstrates whether short-term initiatives to boost funnel size are successful.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Pipeline Trend salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Pipeline Trend salesforce dashboard charts:

Measure The Trend In Your Sales Pipeline. Demonstrates the Long-Term Pipeline Trend and Short-Term Pipeline Trend salesforce dashboard charts in action.

6) Open Opportunities by Created Date


Size isn’t everything. Quality matters too.

Here’s a simple but effective way to assess pipeline quality. It’s the Open Opportunities by Created Date dashboard chart.The Pipeline by Created Date dashboard chart is an excellent way of examining the age and quality of the sales pipeline.The chart shows the existing funnel, summarized by Created Month and current Stage. You may also want to create a similar report and dashboard chart that summarizes the information by Created Month and Opportunity Owner.

Let’s say it typically takes three months to close a deal in your business. If there are significant number of opportunities open much longer than this, then are these genuine, viable deals?

As such, the chart and underlying report give executives the information they need to start the process of validating the sales pipeline.

In our example, let’s assume we are in January 2017 and that our sales cycle is typically 3 months. What about the opportunities opened in February, March and April 2016? Are we confident they are legitimate opportunities? Did the Close Dates shift regularly simply to maintain the size of the pipeline? What action should we take to bring these deals to fruition?

Reviewing the pipeline by Created Date is a simple, but effective way of identifying potentially dormant deals in your pipeline. But it also gives valuable information on how much pipeline is being created month-on-month.

Look again at our example chart. Progressively less pipeline was created over the last 3 months of the year. Should we be concerned about this? Perhaps it’s due to a strong focus by the sales team on closing existing deals before the end of the year. On the other hand, is it an early warning that we may have insufficient pipeline to meet our sales targets in Q1 2017?

Either way, we may need to implement marketing and business development initiatives to correct the trend.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Open Opportunities by Created Date salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Opportunities by Created Date salesforce dashboard chart:

How To Tell If Your Sales Funnel Is Emitting Warning Signals. salesforce dashboard charts that indicate the pipeline may contain ageing deals of low quality.

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7) Pipeline Quality Metrics Table


If you want to predict tomorrow’s weather here is the most statistically reliable way to do it. Whatever the weather is like today, forecast that is how it will be tomorrow.

Sales deals are similar.

Deals that are stuck today will probably be stuck tomorrow. Opportunities that slipped last month are more likely to slip this month.

Here are three pipeline quality metrics that act as a barometer for managers and salespeople.

Three metrics on the salesforce dashboard highlight deals that are likely to slip from one month to another and result in the sales forecast being missed.

1. Number of Close Date Month extensions. This counts the number of times the Opportunity Close Date has shifted from one month to another.

2. Number of Days Since The Last Stage Change. This is the number of days since the Opportunity Stage was last updated.

3. Number of Days Open. This is the number of days the Opportunity has been open. The clock stops counting when the deal is Won or Lost.

Display the information in a dashboard table. In our example, we are showing the metrics for the top 10 deals due to close this month, ranked by the number of days they have been open.

This is high impact stuff. The table is a powerful way to draw the eye to deals due to close this month that need to be scrutinized.

Are we relying on these deals to hit our sales quota this month? How confident can we be that each opportunity will not slip to another month? Will the sales cycle complete satisfactorily on those deals not updated for a significant period? That may be unlikely.

Use the table to improve the accuracy of sales forecasts. The three pipeline quality metrics do not give the answer in themselves. But they do give a heavy hint on which deals should be reviewed and need an urgent action plan.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Pipeline Quality Metrics salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Pipeline Quality Metrics dashboard table:

3 Killer Pipeline Metrics That Highlight When To Be Sceptical. Explains how to use the three metrics to identify deals that might slip from your sales forecast for this month.

8) Opportunity Conversion Ratios / Win Rates


A small increase in Opportunity conversion rates has a disproportionately high impact on overall sales revenue.

That’s why measuring opportunity conversion ratios / win rates is critical.

The opportunity conversion rate salesforce dashboard chart shows the win rate by salesperson for each month of the year.

The Opportunity Conversion Ratio / Win Rate chart shows the percentage win rate over time. It does this in two ways:

  • Win Rate by Amount.
  • Win Rate by Count.

Measuring the win rate in both ways means we can understand whether salespeople are more effective at closing higher value or lower value deals.

In our example, the win rate by Amount is higher in most months. This means we successfully closed a greater proportion of large value deals compared to smaller opportunities.

In September and October, the situation reversed. The team successfully closed a greater proportion of lower value deals.

Did the sales team lose focus on the higher value deals? Did we discount more heavily during these months? Or did we have new joiners that had less experience with larger deals?

The underlying report gives detail about win rates at the individual salesperson level. This is crucial information for identifying coaching, training and support needs.

Nevertheless, be careful. An over-emphasis on win rates can have unwanted consequences. Do not risk encouraging sales people to leave opportunities out of the pipeline until a deal is on the table (i.e. sandbagging).

Conversely, don’t discourage salespeople from setting deals to Closed Lost when opportunities no longer have legs. You need an accurate pipeline, not one full of dormant deals that salespeople are afraid to close-out.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Opportunity Conversion Rate salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Conversion Rate salesforce dashboard chart:

How To Use Opportunity Conversion Rates For Superior Results. More in-depth examples of how to use conversion rates and opportunity win rates for effective sales performance management.

How To Measure Opportunity Win Rates Across Teams. Examples of dashboard charts that compare team and pan-company conversion rates.

9) Average size of Closed Won Deals


Recent research with one of our customers shows a 65% variation in average deal size between salespeople in one team.

That is a huge range.

All salespeople are working comparable territories. And selling the same products to similar customers.

Increasing the average deal size for salespeople at the lower end of the scale was a business development priority for this company. Addressing this issue resulted in increased sales revenue without any increase in the number of deals in the pipeline.

This salesforce dashboard chart shows the average size of closed won opportunities for each salesperson.

Many things explain variations in average deal size. These include differences in experience between salespeople, variations in the average number of products sold per opportunity and different levels of discounting by sales teams.

These are challenges that our customer addressed through training, coaching, personal development and adjustments to sales process and pricing strategy.

Nevertheless, unless you quantify this essential metric you will lack the information needed at salesperson level to identify the right course of action to boost revenue.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Average Deal Size salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Average Deal Size salesforce dashboard chart:

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size. Additional information on using average deal size metrics to identify potential improvements in sales performance. Includes examples of how Opportunity Products can be analyzed to understand which salespeople need to add more optional or non-core products to their deals.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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10) Completed Activities per Salesperson


Sales deals do not close themselves. Pipelines do not grow automatically.

Tracking the number of completed sales Activities can provide valuable insight to explain varying levels of sales performance. Review Activity reports in conjunction with the other dashboard charts outlined in this eBook to analyse trends and variations in sales performance.

Sales deals don't close themselves so use the Completed Activities dashboard chart to track salesperson effort in winning opportunities.

In our example, there is an upward trend in the number of Activities completed by the sales team. That’s a positive sign. Indeed, the increase in Activity volume by Sarah may be a strong contributory factor in the improvement in her sales performance over the year that we saw on other charts.

However, we can also see that there are variations in the number of Activities completed by each salesperson. Shaun and Peter have recorded significantly lower levels of Activity compared to Sarah and Dave.

Consider tracking Activity levels by salespeople in several different ways. For example, compare activity with new customers versus existing customers. This will show whether the activities undertaken by salespeople are consistent with the overall sales strategy.

Improve the effectiveness of this dashboard chart by making two small configuration changes in salesforce.

First, modify the Activity Type picklist to values that suit your business. Make the field mandatory, This will provide additional insight on the type of activities that salespeople are completing.

Second, make the Due Date mandatory. This means activities will always be associated with a date. This is essential for producing dashboard charts that accurately count the number of activities completed each month.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Activities salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Activities salesforce dashboard chart:

How To Spot Key Accounts You Should Be Focusing On. Explains how to use Activity Reports and dashboard charts to identify key accounts that need a renewed focus.

11) Leaking Funnel Report


Every sales funnel leaks. That’s the nature of the game. It’s why the traditional sales pipeline chart is shaped like a funnel.

But there’s two things that sales managers need to know about funnel leakage. Is the funnel leaking excessively? And is it leaking in the right place? The Leaking Funnel report tells you both of these things.Use the leaking funnel salesforce dashboard chart to analyze deals that have been lost from the sales pipeline.This dashboard chart measures the number of times Opportunities have moved to Closed Lost from each preceding Opportunity Stage. In our chart, it does this for deals that have been set to Closed Lost in the last 120 days.

For example, the dashboard chart shows that 8 Opportunities have moved from Prospecting, directly to Closed Lost.

All other things being equal, it is good that the first Opportunity Stage has the largest number of Opportunities that move to Closed Lost.

This implies we are qualifying-out deals we are unlikely to win. It means salespeople are not wasting time, effort and resources chasing deals when there is no clear competitive advantage.

However, look at the Negotiation Stage. Five Opportunities went directly from Negotiation to Closed Lost.

Again – all other things being equal – that movement in Opportunity Stage is bad news. It means we invested a considerable amount of time and effort moving the deal through the sales cycle, only to lose the opportunity at the last moment.

Of course, we need further investigation on the movement from Negotiation to Closed Lost before deciding on the right course of action. Is the trend attributable to one particular salesperson? How does the data compare for existing versus new customers? Does it apply only to opportunities with certain product groups?

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Leaking Funnel salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Leaking Funnel salesforce dashboard chart:

3 Steps To Plug A Leaking Sales Funnel In The Right Place. How to measure where and when the sales funnel is leaking in order to take the right action.

12) Sales Performance versus Target


Measuring sales performance against target is a fundamental aspect of managing a sales team.

However, there is no Target tab in salesforce.

So how do you measure sales versus target or quota? Well, there are three ways to do this in salesforce.

  • Use a gauge on a dashboard.
  • Use the Forecasts tab.
  • Use the GSP target tracker solution.

It’s the first of those options we illustrate here.There are three ways to track sales performance against target in salesforce; the dashboard gauge is the quickest and easiest to implement.The dashboard gauge runs from a report that measures Closed Won opportunities. Manually calibrate the red, amber and green settings within the dashboard chart settings.

The dashboard gauge option is quick and easy to implement. The downside, compared to the other two options, is that it provides no insight on whether there is sufficient pipeline to meet the sales target next month or this quarter.

Separate gauges need to be used to track performance versus target for each individual salesperson and sales team.

The Forecasts Tab provides advanced functionality for target tracking, including the ability of managers to override their subordinates targets. It is, however, relatively complex to operate and salespeople and managers need significant training to use it effectively.

The GSP Target Tracker App provides easy-to-understand charts and additional metrics to measure sales versus target. It also automates the forecasting process and avoids the need for sales people to create or update manual sales forecasts. The App also allows sales managers and salespeople to determine whether there is sufficient pipeline to meet target for this month and future months.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Target gauge salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Target Gauge salesforce dashboard chart:

3 Ways To Measure Sales Versus Target in Salesforce. Explains the options for measuring sales performance against target in salesforce – dashboard gauge, Forecasts tab and the Target Tracker.

Is Your Sales Funnel Big Enough To Make Your Revenue Target. Using a custom solution such as the Target Tracker to measure expected revenue against target.

Track Sales Performance And Pipeline Versus Target

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Recorded Webinar | 12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts

Join Gary Smith, CEO of The Gary Smith Partnership and Senior Consultant Dan Bailey. Gary and Dan demonstrate the 12 charts in action and the contribution each makes to performance improvement and pipeline management.

Related Blog Posts

If You Only Use One Sales Pipeline Chart In 2017, Make It This One!

Don’t Let Your Best Dashboard Chart Look Like A Bedraggled Washing Line

3 Ways To Measure Performance Against Sales Target In Salesforce In 2017

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

If You Only Use One Sales Pipeline Chart, Make It This One!

If You Only Use One Sales Pipeline Chart, Make It This One!

Nothing is more useful to a sales manager than a sales pipeline chart that gives a comprehensive view of the funnel.

That’s exactly what the Pipeline by Month and Opportunity Stage sales pipeline chart gives you.

It’s my absolute favorite in our 12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts. In fact, if I could only have one sales pipeline chart then it would be this one.

Tip: You don’t have to build this dashboard chart yourself. If you haven’t done so already, download our free GSP Sales Dashboard from the AppExchange. That way you can easily install all 12 recommended sales pipeline charts in your own salesforce environment.

So here it is. It’s the sales pipeline chart shows the Pipeline by Close Date and Opportunity Stage.

This sales pipeline chart gives robust visibility of the funnel on a salesforce dashboard.

The chart shows the value of opportunities due to close each month. Within each month, we can see where those deals are in terms of the Opportunity Stage and the sales process.

Let’s assume we are in the middle of October right now.

We can see that in this month, there is £600k worth of Opportunities due to close. This value is split by the various Opportunity Stages. In salesforce, hover over each Stage for additional detail.

This is powerful information from a sales management point of view.

It gives sales executives the essential information they need to manage the sales pipeline effectively. The underlying report facilitates accurate forecasting. Dud deals can be identified. And the sales pipeline chart helps to prevent that all too common problem, an over-inflated sales pipeline.

Tip: When the Pipeline by Stage chart is first created in many businesses, it doesn’t bring the immediate clarity you expect. That’s because the pipeline is full of opportunities with Close Dates in the past. In fact, the chart looks more like a bedraggled washing line. However, that problem of Close Dates in the past can be easily fixed.

Current month pipeline strength

Let’s stick with our assumption that we’re in the middle of October right now. And, in this case, let’s assume our typical sales cycle is 3 months.

As a sales manager looking at my October projected revenue, I want to know just how robust the October pipeline really is.

The sales pipeline chart shows the value of deals due to close this month, split by opportunity stage.

Those deals that are in Prospecting, for example. If our average sales cycle is three months, are we confident those deals on the sales pipeline chart will close this month? Should some of them be at a more advanced Stage? Do the close dates need to be moved to a later month? Have the close dates on some of this opportunities slipped from one month to another before?

The same with the Investigation and Proposal Made Stages. Are we really going to close these opportunities this month? If not, then our October pipeline is significantly over-inflated.

December pipeline strength

Let’s look at another month in the sales pipeline chart.

What about those deals in the negotiation stage in December? Is it really going to take us three months to close these deals? Is there anything we can do to bring them forward?

The sales pipeline chart shows deals scheduled to close in December.

In fact, looking at the sales pipeline chart for December, we have a lot of funnel value that’s due to close. But just how robust is that? Are these deals in December because the financial year of many customers ends that month? If so, we can legitimately expect many deals to get completed in the run up to Christmas?

Have many of the opportunities due to close in December been sitting in our pipeline for a long time? Have sales people entered December as the close date on the basis that (hopefully) the opportunity is “bound to be closed” sometime during the year?

If that is the case, then the December pipeline is nowhere near as strong as we might hope.

January pipeline strength

The sales pipeline chart shows there’s a dip in the size of the funnel in January.

The sales pipeline chart shows there's a dip in the size of the pipeline for January.

Is this due to legitimate seasonal variation? Or is it something we should be concerned about? As a sales manager, do I need to start organizing some marketing campaigns now, with a view to boosting the pipeline 3 or 4 months from now?

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Deals due to close before today

Let’s stick with our assumption that right now we’re in the middle of October.

What are these deals doing here on the sales pipeline chart? The ones with the close date in September.

Opportunities with a close date earlier than today are revealed on the sales pipeline chart.

Unless you have a time turner, these deals aren’t going to close in September!

But we see this very often. Open opportunities with close dates in the past. Either those deals have already closed and the opportunity stage hasn’t been updated. Or, the close date needs to be moved because they are still open.

A case in point. Colin Parish, VP of Sales at Moderna downloaded the dashboard package containing the sales pipeline chart. But Colin’s chart didn’t look like our beautiful example, based on his own sales data. That’s because Colin’s funnel was full of opportunities with close dates in the past. Read how Colin solved this problem.

Underlying report for the sales pipeline chart

Let’s go down to the underlying report.

The report provides more detail than we saw in the sales pipeline dashboard chart.

The report provides more detail than we saw in the sales pipeline dashboard chart. The report data shows the specific value of opportunities that are due to close by month, by each opportunity stage.

Like any other report, we can click on the Show Details button to see the underlying opportunities.

Like any other report, we can click on the Show Details button to see the underlying opportunities.

Now we can start to interrogate the individual opportunities that make up the chart and report data.

Right click on any opportunity to open it in a new tab. This way you can examine the individual opportunity details, whilst still retaining the open report.

Sales Pipeline Chart Video

The sales pipeline chart and underlying report give sales managers robust visibility of the funnel, in a meaningful and useful way.

And of course like any other chart, it doesn’t just need to be visible to managers. Team leaders and individual sales reps can manage their own pipeline, using this exact same sales pipeline chart.

In the video below I explain how to use the sales pipeline dashboard chart and the underlying pipeline report to manage the funnel effectively.

Create the Sales Pipeline Chart

If you don’t want to download the full 12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts, then here are step-by-step instructions for creating this salesforce dashboard pipeline chart and underling pipeline report.

  1. Start on the reports tab, click new report then select an Opportunities report.
  2. Adjust the basic filters. Set Opportunity Status to Open. Set the time Range to All Time.
  3. Set the Format to be a Matrix report by clicking on Tabular Format.
  4. On the left hand side chose Opportunity Stage.
  5. Across the top of the report chose Close Date. Adjust the date format to Group By calendar month.
  6. Pull the Amount field into the body of the report.
  7. Click on the Show link to remove the record count. Repeat the process to set the report to Hide Details.
  8. Run the report to check that it looks the way you expect.
  9. Now create a chart directly in the report. Click on Add Chart in the Customize section.
  10. Choose the vertical bar chart.
  11. On the Y axis select the Opportunity Amount.
  12. On the X axis select the Close Date.
  13. In the Group by, select Opportunity Stage.
  14. Now choose the stacked bar chart.
  15. Click on the Formatting tab. Put the legend below the chart. Enable the hover. And put the chart below the report.
  16. Now run the report and check your chart.
  17. Save the report (remember, not in your Personal Folder, no-one else will be able to see it).
  18. Click on the dashboard tab and select the dashboard to which you want to add the chart.
  19. Click on Edit on the Dashboard.
  20. Drag a bar chart from the left hand pane onto the dashboard.
  21. In the Data Sources tab, find the report you want to use for the dashboard. Drag it onto the component you’ve just added to the dashboard.
  22. Rather than creating a new chart within the dashboard, let’s pull in the chart we’ve already created on the report. Click on the spanner symbol on the chart. Tick the checkbox, ‘Use chart ad defined in source report’.
  23. Finally give it a header and a title so that people know exactly what they’re looking at.

If in doubt watch the video – I demonstrate fully how to create the report and dashboard chart.

Related Sales Pipeline Blog Posts

12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts | With Video And Examples

3 Ways To Measure Performance Against Sales Target In Salesforce In 2017

How To Stop ‘Closed Lost’ Screwing Up Salesforce Dashboards

Big is beautiful: The 4 easy dashboard charts you need to measure pipeline size

3 Ways To Measure Performance Against Sales Target In Salesforce In 2017

3 Ways To Measure Performance Against Sales Target In Salesforce In 2017

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Many frustrated people have looked for the Target tab in salesforce.

Don’t waste your time. It does not exist.

Yet measuring performance against sales target is a critical activity in running a sales team. Isn’t it?

Fortunately there ARE ways to measure performance against sales target in salesforce.

In fact, it goes deeper than that.

We need to know how the company, sales teams and individual reps performed historically against their sales targets. But we also need to know whether there’s enough pipeline to meet the target this month or next month or next quarter.

Without this information, you are flying blind.

That is an uncomfortable position. As the pilot, it means you cannot adjust the controls and take action to make sure the sales target will be hit.

For example, if you know there is enough pipeline to meet next month’s sales target then focus the team, first and foremost, on closing existing deals.

On the other hand, if there is insufficient pipeline you have a different challenge. You need to close the deals that do exist. But the sales team also need to find new pipeline simply to have enough to go at.

So measuring performance against both historic and future sales targets is essential. Here are the options for doing this in salesforce.

There are three ways to measure performance versus sales target in salesforce. We explain how each one works, its pros and cons and when its the best solution.

By the way, if you like Option 3 then get in touch. We have a package that is easy to implement for this.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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Options for measuring sales targets in salesforce

Here are the three options. They provide salespeople and managers with different levels of information. We’ve described the options and given pointers to indicate the situation in which each is appropriate.

Option 1 – Dashboard Gauge

Use a salesforce dashboard gauge to indicate overall achievement against sales target.
Salesforce dashboard gauge is a simple way to measure performance against sales target.

The arrow indicator shows the current sales performance. Use the red, amber and green segments to set relevant break-points. For example, amber to represent 80% target achievement, green for 100% sales target achievement.

Feed the gauge using an underlying matrix or summary report. The report simply needs to summarize the value of deals won over the relevant period of time.

Pros of the gauge approach

  • The report and gauge are simple and easy to set up.
  • The gauge is easy on the eye.
  • It’s a quick and powerful summary of sales performance against target.

Cons of the gauge approach

  • It is a blunt instrument. For example, if the gauge is at the company level, there’s no visibility of individual rep or sales team performance against sales target.
  • The breakpoint values must be manually re-calibrated for each target period. If the target next month is different to this month, the breakpoints need to be modified.
  • Pipeline deals are not shown. This means we don’t know if there’s enough funnel to meet the sales target for next month. There’s nothing to tell us, for example, if 30% of pipeline deals are won whether the target will be hit.

It’s the right choice if

  • You need to set something up quickly.
  • You need a Board-level chart to summarize performance.
  • You only need to measure top level performance against sales target. Alternatively if you are prepared to invest the time you can set up similar gauges for individual salespeople and teams.
  • Sales targets are the same for each time period. Breakpoints don’t need to be modified each month or quarter. (Or remembering to re-set the red, amber and green breakpoint values on a monthly basis isn’t going to be a problem).

The dashboard gauge is a viable option for relatively straightforward target measurement. It’s a simplistic solution. On the other hand, if you need to set up a sales target reporting mechanism in the next 5 minutes then this is the option to go for.

Remember, use the gauge in conjunction with other dashboard charts and reports to gain full visibility of the sales performance and pipeline.

Option 2 – Salesforce Forecasts Tab

The Forecasts tab is a sophisticated and advanced way of tracking performance versus sales target.

The Forecasts Tab is an advanced and sophisticated way to track performance against sales target.

View Closed Won opportunities that contribute to sales target achievement in the Forecasts tab.

Pipeline deals are also included. These opportunities are categorized to indicate how likely they are to close successfully. Managers have important information on the strength of the funnel and the extent to which sales targets will be hit.

Managers can also override the forecasts made by their direct reports. This means they can adjust the overall forecast to balance excessive optimism or pessimism of salespeople.

There is a downside. The Forecasts tab is a relatively complex piece of functionality. Training and coaching is needed to help both salespeople and managers use it to full advantage.

Pros of the Forecasts Tab

  • Set targets at individual, team, company and product family level.
  • Track performance against sales target based on opportunity category including won, committed, pipeline and best-case deals.
  • Allow managers to override forecasts submitted by their direct reports and modify the projected performance against target for their team.
  • Review forecast history to learn from forecasts submitted in the past.
  • Drill down from the top level forecast to examine performance against sales target at individual rep and team level.

Cons of the Forecasts Tab

  • The Forecasts tab is relatively complex to set up and use.
  • It requires detailed training for sales reps and their managers.
  • Salespeople must update their individual forecasts in order for the overall forecast to have meaning. This means a high level of commitment is required across the team to get the full benefits.

It’s the right choice if

  • You have sophisticated target measurement requirements.
  • Managers must be able to override the forecasts submitted by their salespeople.
  • The sales team is mature and already has a good level of salesforce user adoption.
  • The business is prepared to commit to appropriate training for salespeople and managers.

The salesforce Forecasts Tab provides robust target tracking and forecasting capabilities. However, bear in mind that successful roll-out means appropriate planning and configuration effort.

Option 3 – GSP Target Tracker

Many of our customers use the GSP Target Tracker to measure performance against sales target. We have created it as a managed package that can be easily implemented to any salesforce environment.

Much less training is needed for salespeople and managers to use the Tracker compared to the Forecasts Tab. The solution also takes away the need to manually create forecasts.

Closed won and pipeline deals are automatically linked to the relevant sales target. Targets can be measured against secured business and the anticipated revenue from funnel opportunities.

The GSP Target Tracker is easy to use and compares both closed won and pipeline deals to the sales target.

The sales targets are entered into a custom object for each sales person for each month. In the example above, we’re looking at the sales target for Michael Watson in April.

The lower portion of the screen shows the Opportunities that have been automatically linked to this target record. The Target Tracker does this by looking at the Close Date of the Opportunity and the Opportunity Owner. The Opportunity is then linked to the relevant target – in this case, Michael Watson’s target for April.

If the Close Date or the Opportunity Owner change the Opportunity is automatically unhooked and linked to the newly relevant target record.

The embedded chart on the left hand side of the page shows Michael’s target in blue, his Closed Won deals in green and the Expected Revenue of his April pipeline deals in orange. The purple bar shows that based on these numbers, Michael has a shortfall against his target.

The doughnut chart to right provides analysis of Michael’s April pipeline by Opportunity Stage. This means both Michael and his manager have clarity on the likelihood that his target will be achieved based on the pipeline deals.

Dashboard charts summarize company and team level information.

Drill down from dashboard charts to view performance against sales target at team and individual sales rep level.

The dashboard chart shows over / under performance against monthly sales target at the company or team level.

Drill down to the underlying report to view the sales rep target. This compares the sales target with the value of Closed Won deals, Expected Revenue from the pipeline.

Pros of the GSP Target Tracker

  • It’s easy for sales reps use. Opportunities are automatically linked to relevant targets.
  • Highly visual information on performance against target is provided.
  • Extensive drill down capability from company level performance to sales team and individual rep.
  • Assess the quality of the pipeline and its potential contribution to target achievement.
  • Easy to set up (implemented through a managed package).

Cons of the GSP Target Tracker

  • A (very reasonable!) license fee is payable.

It’s the right choice if

  • You need a powerful solution that is easier to use than the Forecasts tab.

Download a Powerpoint version of this blog post by viewing the accompanying SlideShare, How To Manage Sales Targets in Salesforce.

We have implemented each of the options described in this blog post for customers. Contact Us to find out more about applying each approach in your business.

Track Sales Performance And Pipeline Versus Target

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Recorded Webinar on sales targets in salesforce

Watch Gary Smith and Nick Ambrose demonstrate the three solutions in action.

Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

How To Stop ‘Closed Lost’ Screwing Up Salesforce Dashboards

5 Easy Tips That Will Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend

When Recurring Opportunities Are Right (And When They Are Not)

When Recurring Opportunities Are Right (And When They Are Not)

Not every sale results in a single, one-off invoice and payment.

Many result in multiple payments over time.

But here’s a common mistake companies make in salesforce.

They use recurring opportunities when they shouldn’t. And sometimes they don’t use recurring opportunities when they should.

Here’s what happens if you do this:

  • Your sales process is far more convoluted than it needs to be.
  • It will be difficult to get accurate pipeline visibility.
  • Key sales metrics such as the number of month close date changes, days since last stage change and open age of the opportunity will be distorted.

So here are five situations where recurring opportunities potentially have a role to play in salesforce.com.

In each of these commonly-occurring scenarios, companies receive multiple payments over time. So when are recurring opportunities required?

Here’s a simple way to answer this question. Determine whether the future revenue is in jeopardy.

If the answer is yes, then recurring opportunities are probably required. If the answer is no, then you probably don’t need recurring opportunities.

Here’s how recurring opportunities apply – or don’t apply – to each of the situations above.

Recurring opportunities with software as a service

Based in Paris, our customer Sidetrade provides predictive software to accelerate credit management and the sales-to-cash cycle.

The platform is delivered on a SaaS basis and customers generally sign-up for a fixed term contract for a number of years. Payment is on an annual basis.

Sidetrade doesn’t need recurring opportunities.

This is because the future revenue on the contract is not in jeopardy. The opportunity is closed won. The customer is committed via the contract.

So instead of recurring opportunities, Sidetrade forecasts future revenue using Schedules.

For sure, Sidetrade will aim to sell additional services or upgrades to the customer. But Sidetrade handle these via additional opportunities. But these are new opportunities for incremental revenue rather than recurring opportunities.

Recurring opportunities with insurance premiums

Based near Toronto, another customer, Aboriginal Insurance Services (AIS) sell insurance products to the Indigenous Native American communities across Canada.

For example, the community will purchase motor insurance to cover all vehicles operated by the municipal community.

The insurance and premium is for one year of cover. AIS will aim to renew the policy with the community. But this is not guaranteed.

In fact the future revenue is in considerable jeopardy. Competitors will seek to undercut AIS or challenge the incumbent company in other ways.

So it’s right for AIS to create a recurring opportunity to manage the renewal. It is a separate sales process. AIS will apply proactive key account planning and optimize their chances of success but there is no certainty of a positive outcome.

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Recurring opportunities with service contracts

Based in Yorkshire in northern England, MAM Software sell advanced software and hardware to support the automotive logistical supply chain in the UK and USA.

The company sells support contracts that cover the software and hardware. These typically run for 3 – 5 years.

The customer pays an annual fee for the support.

But MAM don’t use recurring opportunities. That’s because the customer is committed contractually for the duration of the support arrangement. The revenue is secured. It’s not in jeopardy.

To manage this MAM have a single opportunity. They use Products with Schedules to forecast the future revenue. This means MAM have an accurate, forward looking view of secured revenue.

It also means the pipeline for new opportunities provides a clear picture of future income if the deal is won.

Recurring opportunities with Proof of Concepts

Another London based customer, Modernis, provides advanced analytics and consultancy services to the insurance and re-insurance markets across the UK, USA and Europe.

The analytics products are offered in a software-as-a-service platform. The sales process often involves a two stage process.

First, Modernis sometimes provide chargeable proof-of-concept access to their platform. Then, once customers have experienced the value that the platform brings, Modernis will sell access via a contract that runs for a number of years. This contract incorporates an annual license charge.

To manage this, Modernis create two opportunities. The first represents the sales process for the chargeable proof-of-concept. A trigger then automatically creates a second opportunity, this time to manage the full contract sales process.

So the company uses recurring opportunities – at least of a type. This is because the full contract is not a given. It depends on a successful outcome to the proof of concept.

Modernis also forecast the future revenue on the full contract using Schedules. This is because this revenue is not in jeopardy. Therefore no recurring opportunity is required.

Framework agreements in salesforce

Gilbarco Veeder Root (GVR) is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of petrol pumps and retail equipment. Based in Greensboro, North Carolina, the company has a salesforce deployment covering six continents.

A GVR opportunity may often relate to a major site re-fit program for one of the major petrol retail companies.

The refit program may take the petrol retail company several years to complete. It’s likely to require a large-scale purchase from GVR.

One the one hand, both parties want to benefit from the pricing and security of trading that is reflected in a long term commitment.

On the other hand, the customer doesn’t want all the petrol pumps manufactured and delivered in one go! Rather, they want to ‘draw down’ the units as and when the refit program is ready to install them.

So the total value of the contract is agreed (usually within an agreed range). But the month-on-month revenue is more volatile.

GVR handle this with a single upfront opportunity. The company uses custom revenue schedules to predict the volume and revenue that is anticipated each month. Then, when the actual trading volumes are known, the GVR Account Manager updates the schedule with the actual number and value of orders placed.

This allows GVR to track the projected volume (upon which the commercial terms were agreed) with the actual volume ordered by the oil company.

Recommended blog post: How To Manage 4 Types of Framework Agreement In Salesforce.

Points to consider when you need recurring opportunities

  • You need a process to manage the sales process on the recurring opportunity. Remember, the revenue is in jeopardy. It’s not guaranteed. That means you need a well thought out process that maximizes the probability of securing that revenue.
  • Consider triggering the recurring opportunity automatically. This will avoid the recurring opportunity from being forgotten about. That trigger can happen when the original opportunity is won or at some other pre-determined point in the process.
  • Measure the win-loss ratio for the recurring opportunity separately to the initial opportunity. In other words, the ratio of won / lost deals on recurring. Improve your process.

Points to consider when you don’t need recurring opportunities

  • There are several different ways to track the value of the sales. These include the total upfront sales value and the revenue recognition on a quarterly or annual basis.
  • Use Products and Schedules to forecast the revenue over time. Read this blog post for more advice on how to do this.
  • Consider custom revenue schedules if you need additional flexibility. For example, if you need to record the status (not due, invoiced, paid) on individual schedules then you will need custom revenue schedules.

Not every sale results in a single payment or transaction. Use recurring opportunities when it is right to do so. And if it isn’t right, then try revenue schedules instead.

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Related Blog Posts

How to Use Product Schedules to Improve Your Revenue Recognition

Link Close Dates To Product Schedules To Avoid Warped Forecasts

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5 Easy Tips That Will Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend

5 Easy Tips That Will Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend

Mr Opportunity Probability stands in the corner at parties.

Barely getting a second look.

Everyone knows he has to be invited. But no-one really wants to speak to him.

It would be better if he just went away.

But here’s the thing.

Opportunity Probability can be your friend. He’s actually much more interesting than you think.

“Used in the right way, Opportunity Probability will increase your forecasting accuracy and root out deals that should be qualified-out of the sales funnel.”

It’s just a matter of knowing what to do with him.

So let’s understand what that Opportunity Probability fellow is and why he’s so undervalued.

Then we can explain the 5 tips that will turn him into your valuable and trusted friend.

Opportunity Probability defined

Just in case, let’s be 100% clear what we’re talking about here.

Opportunity Probability is the standard field in salesforce (or any other CRM system for that matter) that quantifies the likelihood of winning an opportunity.

If the Opportunity Stage is Closed Won then the Opportunity Probability is 100%. If the Opportunity Stage is Closed Lost the Opportunity Probability is 0%.

If the opportunity is still open, then the Opportunity Probability is somewhere in between 1% and 99%.

Opportunity probability can help identify low quality deals and improve sales forecasting.

Why Opportunity Probability is disliked

In our experience, there are three reasons why sales executives don’t make the most of Opportunity Probability.

Understanding these reasons – and why they are not valid – is key to making the most of this metric.

Here they are.

Sales deals are binary

When all is said and done, the Opportunities are either Won or Lost. Not something in between.

(OK, only 70% of the value of the opportunity might be won but that’s because the customer beat down the price or didn’t purchase all of the products that had been on the opportunity. The deal is still 100% Won, just the Amount was reduced).

The binary nature of sales means some executives don’t see any value in setting an Opportunity Probability for pipeline deals.

But here’s the thing. No-one knows which deals are going to be won and which are going to be lost. (If they did, then there would be no point in having the deals that are going to be lost in the pipeline).

That means that once there’s a critical mass of opportunities – and that number can be quite low – Opportunity Probability can be used to calculate Expected Revenue (or Weighted Revenue if you prefer that term).

Expected Revenue is one proven way to create a robust sales revenue forecast. It’s not the only way. But used in conjunction with other methods, a sales forecast based on Expected Revenue will stand up to scrutiny from colleagues and internal peers.

Providing, of course, that the Opportunity Probability is accurate.

It can be hard to assess the probability of winning a deal

Often there are many unknowns with sales deals.

We can’t be sure what the customer is truly thinking. We don’t know what price our competitors are quoting. We don’t necessarily know which stakeholders are involved.

This means Opportunity Probabilities can be perceived as difficult to predict or having a spurious degree of accuracy. Is the probability of winning this deal 65%? Or 70%? Or some other figure?

However Opportunity Probabilities should be set based on evidence from the customer. This evidence indicates that a deal is more likely or less likely. Every sales process is different, so agree what constitutes positive and negative evidence in your market place.

More about this in Tip #2.

Opportunity Probabilities are locked to Opportunity Stages

Many salesforce users believe that Opportunities Probabilities are irrevocably linked to Opportunity Stage.

Actually they’re not. It just seems that way.

By default, when an Opportunity Stage is advanced, the probability is increased to the default value associated with that Opportunity Stage. Left untouched, the Opportunity Probability may, therefore, not be realistic on specific opportunities.

It’s not always recognized that the Opportunity Probability can be overwritten and adjusted for each opportunity. Use this flexibility to set a realistic Opportunity Probability on each deal.

5 tips to make Opportunity Probability your friend

So here are the five tips that will make Opportunity Probability your trusted friend.

 

1. Adjust the Opportunity Probability on each opportunity

Too often sales people and their managers regard the Opportunity Probability as fixed for any given Opportunity Stage.

As we’ve already mentioned, it isn’t.

Simply double-click on the field or Edit the Opportunity to set the value that’s right for that particular deal.

Sales people can edit the Opportunity Probability on each deal.

Make sure sales people understand how to adjust Opportunity Probabilities and why they need to.

 

2. Set Opportunity Probabilities based on customer evidence

Think about this situation for a moment.

Let’s say four companies are competing for a deal. They all have an Opportunity Stage of Investigation, with an Opportunity Probability of 25%.

All four companies submit their quote and move the Opportunity Stage to Customer Evaluating. Let’s say that Stage has a default probability of 30%.

So now the combined Opportunity Probability is 120%. Which, clearly, is nonsense.

In fact, the only thing that has happened is that the sales process – as perceived by each seller – has moved forward.

This happens all too often. The Opportunity Probability reflects the state-of-play in the selling process. It doesn’t say anything about the buying process.

So instead, base Opportunity Probabilities on evidence from the potential customer. Here are three examples of evidence from the customer that might warrant an increase in probability.

  • You are given preferential access to key stakeholders in order to conduct discovery.
  • After receiving four proposals, the customer selects you and one other for presentation.
  • The customer Sponsor communicates to colleagues that he or she prefers your proposal over the competitors.

Define and agree the customer and buyer behaviors in your specific market place that might indicate a positive intent from the prospect. Standardize and agree these across the sales team.

Admittedly, setting Opportunity Probabilities based on customer evidence is more difficult than simply relying on the default Stage values. But it encourages sales people to think through the sales process and to seek out customer commitment. That in itself, increases the likelihood of a successful sales outcome.

 

3. Use non-standard Opportunity Probability values

No-one mandates that increments of 5 or 10 have to be used in Opportunity Probabilities.

Here’s what a highly successful VP of Sales at one of our customers says to his team.

“I know the chance of winning this deal is 50:50. But use your instinct. Set the Opportunity Probability to 49% or 51%. I want to know which side of the fence you’re on.”

Not every 51% deal is won and not every 49% deal is lost. But the act of coming down on one side or the other encourages thought and analysis.

This blog post is about getting benefit from the Opportunity Probability field that is used in salesforce and most other CRM systems.

In this business, managers work through each deal with the sales executives to coach them on driving the buying process forward. This dialogue – assisted by the Opportunity Probability – contributes to conversion rates well above industry norms for our customer.

 

4. Set realistic default values for each Opportunity Stage

We’ve talked about setting an individual Opportunity Probability for each Opportunity. But the default Opportunity Probabilities associated with each Stage still have a role to play.

These default values should reflect the norm for your business.

Set realistic default opportunity probability values for each Opportunity Stage.

They provide a benchmark for sales people to adjust the Opportunity Probabilities on individual deals.

If the Opportunity Probability is above the benchmark, can it be justified? If it’s below, can the sales approach be improved?

But here’s our experience.

In many cases, the default Opportunity Probabilities set by companies on the early Opportunity Stages are too low. And the default values set on the latter Stages are too high.

Take a hard look at the default Opportunity Probability values in your salesforce environment. Discuss them in a team meeting. Reach agreement on the right values for your business based on experience and input from the sales team.

 

5. Automatically set Opportunity Probabilities based on historical outcomes

Thus far we’ve talked about the standard Opportunity Probability field in salesforce.

But what if you could automatically set the Opportunity Probability field based on past experience?

That would mean the probability is automatically set depending on factors such as:

  • New versus existing customer.
  • Historical sales person performance.
  • Size of the deal.
  • Region or geographical territory.
  • Products associated with the opportunity.

We’ve implemented exactly that functionality for a number of GSP customers.

In summary, historical opportunity probabilities in a custom object. A piece of code then automatically updates a custom Opportunity Probability field on the Opportunity. The probability in the custom field is based on the outcome of historical opportunities that match the current opportunity.

The custom probability field is automatically updated based on the historical data that shows how likely a deal is to close.

Our customers who use this solution still use the standard Opportunity Probability field. This means the sales person can set a different value to the probability that has been automatically set. It has proven to be an invaluable facilitator of discussion between the sales person and his sales coach or manager.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to see this solution in action.

“If you’ve left Mr Opportunity Probability alone in the corner up to now then this is the time to bring him out into the open.”

Used in the right way, Opportunity Probability encourages sales people to think through their opportunities. It facilitates discussion between managers and sales people. It enables accurate forecasting based on Expected Revenue.

It does, in short, lead to superior sales results. It’s just a matter of knowing what to do with him.

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3 Ways to Spot Deals That Will Deflate Your Monthly Sales Forecast

3 Ways to Spot Deals That Will Deflate Your Monthly Sales Forecast

If your monthly sales forecast has ever fallen through the floor at the last minute then this blog post is for you. Use these three sales metrics to identify the deals that might deflate your monthly sales forecast. Take action on these deals to firm-up the close date or remove them from your sales forecast.

No-one cares when a deal moves within a month.

But everyone cares when a deal moves from one month to the next.

And when that happens in the last week of the month of the quarter that’s when they care the most.

(Actually that’s not true. What they care about most is when that move happens on the last day of the month or quarter).

Pardon the French, but when this happens it completely screws your monthly sales forecast.

But here’s the thing. If you can spot deals that might slip then you can take three forms of action. You can:

  • Prioritize at-risk deals to increase the chances of a successful close this month.
  • Adjust your monthly sales forecast to take account of the potential slippage.
  • Investigate deals highlighted by pipeline quality metrics.

Here are three sales metrics that help you do that. You can use these metrics in salesforce to spot deals that might sabotage your monthly sales forecast.

1. Month on month close date changes

There’s a statistically proven way to forecast the weather accurately. Predict that whatever happened yesterday will happen again today. Very often you’ll be right.

It’s the same with opportunities. The fact that a deal slipped last month means it’s more likely than others to slip again this month.

Particularly if that slip happened in the last week of the month.

The number of times the close date has changed is important. But what helps us identify the most at-risk deals is the number of times the close date has moved from one month to another.

Particularly if that move happened late in the month or quarter.

Here’s what that looks like on a dashboard chart and report.

Dashboard table that shows opportunities whose close date has slipped month on month.

Salesforce report that shows the number of times the monthly sales forecast has been impacted by close date changes.

The chart shows opportunities that are due to close this month. These are the deals that are in your monthly sales forecast.

That focus on this month is deliberate. If the opportunity is at an early stage and the close date moves from 3 months out to 4 months, we’re probably not too concerned. It is deals that might let down this month’s sales forecast that we’re most interested in.

A sales manager armed with this information might:

  • Focus on helping the opportunity owner to close the deal this month.
  • Make a call to the prospect or arrange a negotiation meeting.
  • Offer the prospect an additional incentive or discount to close this month.
  • Or any one of a number of other tactics to increase the probability of closing the deal this month.

You might also consider removing it from any month-end sales forecast you communicate to colleagues. Forewarned is forearmed.

Let’s look at another way to show the same information. Here’s the team-view.

Dashboard chart that shows how the monthly sales forecast can be impacted by close date changes at the team level.

The chart and report helps managers identify systemic issues. Do some sales people need support and training in closing out deals? What can we learn from individuals that have low slip rates? Are some products, opportunity types or territories more prone to having deals slip than other?

2. Number of days since last opportunity stage change

This is a powerful sales metrics because it shows deals on which progress is slow. It highlights deals with low velocity.

Let’s say the typical sales cycle is 3 months. Let’s also assume there are four or five opportunity stages for open deals.

Then all other things being equal, the opportunity stage should change every 20 to 30 days.

If an opportunity is due to close this month but the last stage change is well above this figure then it’s a strong warning signal.

dashboard table showing days since last stage change.

Report showing days since last stage change.

The metric is particularly powerful when applied to opportunities that have slipped one or month months.

Dashboard table showing impact on sales forecast of combining close date changes with last stage change.

Now we can really hone-in on at risk opportunities.

3. Total age of the opportunity

Some opportunities seem to live on for ever.

They’re like zombie deals. No-one knows if they’re really alive but they haunt your sales pipeline and over-inflate your monthly sales forecast.

Dashboard chart showing age of open deals.

And it’s amazing how often these deals will have the last day of the month, quarter or year as their close date.

That happens when the sales person hopes the opportunity will close at some unknown point in the future. Leave enough time, and it’s bound to be closed by then.

Why does this happen? It happens because:

  • Sales people are optimists. They often believe a deal has life long after its sell-by date.
  • Pressure from managers on the size of the pipeline. Closing out these deals doesn’t alleviate this pressure. It increases it.
  • Sales people don’t like setting deals to Closed Lost. This standard salesforce Opportunity Stage implies failure. And that doesn’t sit well with most sales people.

Which is all very well but these opportunities have a habit of moving from one month to the next. That habit often raises its head in the last few days of the month.

And we’ve already discussed the impact that has on the monthly sales forecast.

What’s the best way to manage these opportunities? There’s several options:

  • Add an additional opportunity stage. “Not Proceeding” for example. In many cases these zombie opportunities aren’t lost to a competitor. Rather, the customer simply does not go ahead with any purchase.
  • Create a Task to revisit the opportunity. The customer will potentially go ahead at some point in the future. Keep in contact. Check-back regularly. Add them to your marketing nurture program.

Either way, keep a watch for these opportunities. Use the Opportunity Age sales metric to identify deals that have out-stayed their welcome.

How to create these monthly sales forecast metrics

Each of these three sales metrics are based on custom fields on the opportunity. There is already a standard Opportunity Age field but it continues to count the age of the opportunity even after it’s closed. We therefore created a custom age field that stops when the deal is won or lost.

The three fields are updated using the salesforce Process Builder. Whenever an opportunity is edited the process builder updates the metrics. The dashboard charts and reports then simply use these custom fields to give visibility of the monthly sales forecast.

Simply let us know if you’d like a customized demo of how these sales metrics can apply in your business. Or if you’d like our help in creating powerful salesforce dashboards that give visibility of sales performance and the sales pipeline, simply enter your details in the form below.

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How to Measure Opportunity Win Rates Across Sales Teams

How to Measure Opportunity Win Rates Across Sales Teams

Increasing your opportunity win rate is the single most powerful way to increase revenue.

Building more pipeline increases sales. So does shortening your sales cycle. And increasing your average deal size definitely helps.

But nothing has such a dramatic impact as increasing your opportunity win rates. (Here’s where you can do the math for your business).

Effective sales managers compare win rates across sales teams, territories and products.

All other things being equal, if your opportunity win rate is improving then your sales are increasing. We’ll show you how to build an opportunity win rate report in this blog and the accompanying video.

So measuring win rate is a critical sales metrics. But here’s what else you can do with an opportunity conversion rate report. You can:

  • Identify individual rep training requirements.
  • Measure the impact of business development initiatives.
  • Gauge the effectiveness of your sales strategy by comparing win rates across customer segments.
  • Compare partners with direct sales teams to optimise the sales mix.

But be careful. Opportunity win rate reports can be misinterpreted. And the very fact of measurement can drive unwanted behaviour. Read on to learn how to measure opportunity win rates and avoid these pitfalls.

Opportunity win rate metrics

Like most things, there’s more than one way to measure opportunity win rates.

Some people argue that the total open pipeline should be factored in. This means that the value of closed won opportunities is calculated as a proportion of the total open pipeline.

In our view this distorts the win rate percentage.

Let’s say your sales cycle is three months. If your team is successful this month in creating new pipeline (e.g. because of a marketing initiative) then those deals will not close for another 2 to 3 months. But if the team also did a great job of closing deals that month the win rate is distorted. It’s artificially low. New opportunities that have been created will pull down the win rate.

So keep it simple. The correct way to measure opportunity win rates is to compare the number and value of deals won in a month with the number and value of deals lost in the same month.

It’s unambiguous. There’s no debate about whether certain elements of the pipeline should be included – or not. And it avoids the risk of double counting open opportunities from one month to the next.

Opportunity Win Rate Report Example

Here’s an example of an opportunity win rate dashboard chart in salesforce.

Use a dashboard chart to compare opportunity win rates.

The chart shows two essential metrics.

  • Win Rate by Count Percentage. This is the blue column. It shows the percentage of deals that have been won in the month in terms of the number of opportunities. In other words, of the total number of deals that closed in December, 20% were won.
  • Win Rate by Value Percentage. This is the green column. It shows the percentage of deals that have been won in the month in terms of the value of opportunities.

Depending on the nature of your business, both metrics may be important.

We can see in the chart, for example, that in December the Won Amount % is higher than the Won Count %. This is good news. It means the sales team successfully closed the higher value opportunities.

February tells a different story. The Won Count is higher. Overall it was the lower value opportunities that closed successfully. Now that we have this information, we can start to investigate the reasons.

Here’s the underlying report that accompanies the dashboard chart.

salesforce report that compares opportunity win rates across individual sales reps.

This gives us significantly more detail on the opportunity win rates by sales rep and month.

Take a look at the figures for Dave Apthorp for March 2016 (highlighted). We can see that Dave has:

  • Closed £273,000 of opportunities. This combines both closed won and closed lost.
  • Won £123,000 of opportunities. This is amount of the £273K that Dave has won.
  • This means his Won Amount % is 45%.
  • The report also shows Dave’s Won Count % is 33% (calculated from the underlying opportunities that make up the report).

The report can be modified to compare opportunity win rates across sales territories, customer segments or other dimensions.

Watch the video at the end of the blog post for step by step instructions on creating this opportunity win rate report.

How to use the Opportunity Win Rate report

The dashboard chart and report gives powerful visibility of win rates across sales reps and teams.

But use the metric on conjunction with other reports to avoid driving unwanted behaviour such as ‘sandbagging’. In other words, an over-emphasis on win rates can result in sales people keeping opportunities out of salesforce until they’re confident that a deal is there to be done. This means you lose visibility of the early stages of the pipeline.

Use these reports to investigate further why win rates vary across reps, teams or competitors. Here are examples of questions managers can ask when reviewing win rate reports.

  • Does everyone have the same understanding of when it is appropriate to create an opportunity?
  • Is one team focussing more heavily on new versus existing customers?
  • Is a sales person cherry picking the best deals and ignoring others?
  • Is it tougher to win deals in a new territory compared to mature markets?
  • Are deals that are effectively lost being closed in salesforce?

This last point is critical. Open deals often live on in the eternal hope that one day they will close successful. Here’s how to identify these lame duck deals that are artificially increasing your opportunity win rates.

As The True Story of Dave Apthorp: The Best and the Worst Sales Person reveals, it’s important not to use the win rate metric in isolation.

How to report on opportunity win rates

The video shows how to create the win rate dashboard chart and report shown in this article. Scroll down for details of the Opportunity formula field referred to the video and the report formulas.

Opportunity formula field

The formula used in the Opportunity custom Amount Won field is:

IF(
IsWon = TRUE,
Amount,
0
)

No need to add the field the page layout but make sure it is visible to all relevant profiles.

% Won (Amount) report formula

Here’s the report formula that calculates the Amount Won % using the opportunity field above.

Formula in salesforce report that calculates win rate by opportunity amount.

% Won (Count) report formula

Here’s the report formula that calculates the percentage number of opportunities that have been won in the month.

This report formula calculates win rate by the number of opportunities.

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How to tell if your sales funnel is emitting warning signals

How to tell if your sales funnel is emitting warning signals

It’s easy for sales managers to get distracted with the here and now. Especially when there’s constant pressure to hit this month’s target.

Today may look rosy. Or not. But your sales pipeline shape may be a warning signal of a future revenue problem.

And that problem is a missed sales target three, four or five months from now.

Sales managers need to understand whether they’re storing up a problem for the future. They can do that by looking at the shape of their sales pipeline.

It needn’t take long.

Here are two eyeball checks to see if your sales pipeline shape is emitting a warning signal. The checks will tell you whether you should be initiating marketing and business development activities now, to meet sales targets in the future.

Let’s say your sales cycle is typically 3 months. The shape of your sales pipeline tells you whether you have enough early stage opportunities to win revenue three, four or five months from now. That’s the first check.

The second check is to look at the timing of these opportunities. You need to understand whether the early stage opportunities that you do have, are in the right place.

Sales pipeline shape

Take a look at the pipeline chart below taken from a salesforce dashboard.

Sales pipeline shape showing opportunities by stage.

The chart shows all open opportunities grouped by opportunity stage. What we’re interested in are the shape of each segment. They show the breakdown of the sales pipeline by opportunity stage.

In this case our early stage pipeline looks good. The colour shading and numbers on the chart show that we have progressively more pipeline at earlier stages in the funnel.

Now have a look at the pipeline chart taken from another business.

Pipeline shape with not enough early stage opportunities.

This time it’s not so good. The early stage funnel is smaller than the middle or later stages. Just one look at the chart suggests we’re storing up a problem for the future.

In other words, the pipeline chart shows at-a-glance, whether the overall shape and composition of our funnel is a cause of concern.

And of course, you can run this chart at any level in the sales hierarchy. So examine the pipeline shape at individual, team and product level to understand the health of the pipeline.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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Sales pipeline timing

The funnel chart gives an immediate indication of the shape and health of the pipeline.

But we also need to know about timing. Specifically, are the early stage pipeline opportunities related to deals that are due to close some months from now? If your sales cycle is 3 months and these early stage opportunities are all due to close this quarter, then you might have a problem.

Look at the chart below. It relates to the second funnel chart we looked at a moment ago.

Significant proportion of the early stage opportunities are due to close this month.

We saw in the funnel chart that the early stage pipeline is too small. And now look at the timing. A significant proportion of the early stage pipeline is due to close this month. So now I’m immediately sceptical that I’ll meet the revenue target for this month.

In this case there is relatively little early stage pipeline three to four months from now. In many B2B sales environments, that’s a sure sign of an impending revenue problem.

In comparison look at the dashboard chart below. It shows the time-based spread of the opportunities in the first funnel chart.

Most of the early stage opportunities are due to close in later months.

There’s relatively little early stage pipeline due to close this month or the next. In contrast, most of the early stage opportunities are due to close three to six months from now. There’s a good head of steam built up to meet future sales targets.

By the way, we’re written a blog post specifically on using and creating the Open Opportunities by Stage dashboard chart. The article includes a video of Gary demonstrating how to apply the information in the chart and step-by-step on how to create it. It’s chart #2 in our series of the ‘12 Charts that should be on your salesforce dashboard’.

Investigate the pipeline shape further

These dashboard charts tell you in one eyeball glance whether you’ve enough early stage pipeline. If you think you’ve a problem then the first thing to do is look into more detail. Find out exactly where the funnel shape is wrong.

Drill down on the charts by team and opportunity owner. Look to see whether the shortage of early stage opportunities lies predominantly in one territory or geographical area. If you use products on opportunities (which you should!) then create the same reports based on opportunity line items. That way you can determine whether the problem is confined to one product family.

Also check there’s not sandbagging going on. In other words, are sales reps deliberately holding opportunities outside salesforce until they’re confident the customer is going ahead? If that is the case, then you’re missing the visibility of sales performance needed to manage a team effectively. It also makes it impossible to accurately assess how deals are leaking from the sales funnel.

Once you have a detailed understanding you can decide on the marketing and business development actions that will protect future sales volumes.

So act now – create the dashboard charts that tell you about the shape and size of your sales pipeline. Then have a quick glance to check they’re not giving off warning signals!

And now, read our 5 tip guide to creating high impact salesforce reports.

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