+44 203 280 3665
To Exceed Year-End Quota, Apply These Q4 Sales Strategies Now

To Exceed Year-End Quota, Apply These Q4 Sales Strategies Now

It’s that time of year.

Q4.

When sales teams around the world are under pressure to get deals closed to meet year-end quotas.

I have worked with many companies in that situation.

And here’s what I’ve found:

The most successful executives apply five Q4 sales strategies.

Q4 Sales Strategies Package Just $1,800* 

16 hours consultancy including:

• Dashboards and configuration specific to Q4

• Help with cleaning up out-of-date opportunities

• Recommendations on salesforce benefit quick-wins

*subject to confirmation of scope.

Q4 Sales Strategies

These sales strategies do not guarantee they hit quota. However, they do put these executives and the sales teams in with the best possible chance of success.

Here are the five Q4 Sales Strategies they use:

  1. Sort the wheat from the chaff.
  2. Determine whether there is enough pipeline to hit quota.
  3. Prioritize time and energy on high impact deals.
  4. Create a close plan for each high priority opportunity.
  5. Protect themselves against margin-eating discounts.

So here they are:

Five Q4 sales strategies you can apply right now to achieve year-end quota.

1. Sort the wheat from the chaff

Here’s the first Q4 sales strategy these executives apply.

They weed out deals that with the best will in the world are not going to close successfully in Q4.

It’s February 2017.

Sarah Jones is under pressure to boost her sales pipeline.

The pressure is coming from the VP of Sales. “Come on, Sarah, you’ve got lots of potential in that territory of yours. Let’s ramp up the pipeline.”

You can’t blame him.

The Board set aggressive growth targets for the year and expect the VP of Sales to deliver.

Sarah works through her Accounts.

She picks a prospect with whom she had a meeting three months ago. “I reckon there’s a decent chance with this one,” she thinks.

Sarah creates an opportunity in salesforce.

“It’s bound to close sometime this year,” she says to herself hopefully.

Of course, Sarah doesn’t want to put herself under any unnecessary time pressure. That means she enters the Close Date as December 31, 2017.

The pipeline has increased. Job done.

That scenario plays out in companies around the world.

There are three ways to sort the wheat from the chaff with Q4 deals.

a) Review Opportunity Stages and Get Real

In Sarah’s company, here’s what the pipeline looks like by the time we reach mid-Q4.

There's often a surge of deals due to close in December when we look at the pipeline in Q4.

There’s a surge of deals due to close in December.

But how realistic are these opportunities?

For example, if the sales cycle is typically three months, then are the deals in the prospecting and investigation stages of the sales pipeline realistically going to close in Q4?

In other words, the first step is to review deals by Stage and Close Date. Remove dormant deals from the pipeline. Move deals that still have legs, but realistically won’t close in Q4, to a later date.

b) Review Opportunities by Created Date

Here’s another way to assess the strength of the Q4 pipeline.

Look at deals due to close in Q4 by Created Date.

If the sales cycle is 3 months, carefully examine deals that have been open substantially longer as part of your Q4 sales strategies.

Again, if the sales cycle is 3 months, carefully examine deals that have been open substantially longer.

Shake them out of the tree if they’re unlikely to close this quarter.

c) Analyse Pipeline Quality Metrics

In addition to the age, two other deal metrics provide insight on pipeline quality.

  • Number of Close Date month extensions.
  • Days since last Stage change.

This dashboard table highlights these quality metrics for deals due to close in Q4.

This dashboard table highlights these quality metrics for deals due to close in Q4.

We can see, for example, the Oxted Manufacturing opportunity has been open 237 days, the Opportunity Stage was last updated 100 days ago and the Close Date has moved four times from one month to another.

I don’t know about you, but those figures do not give me a great deal of confidence that the deal will close in Q4.

So that’s the first of the Q4 sales strategies:

Sort the wheat from the chaff.

Doing this will help hugely in subsequent recommendations.

By the way, an easy way to obtain these reports is to download the free GSP Sales Dashboard if you are not already using it.

 

2. Determine whether there is enough pipeline to hit quota

This Q4 sales strategy recommendation is critical.

The answer to the question of whether you have sufficient pipeline to hit quote is a major influence on your Q4 sales strategy.

But first:

How do we know if the pipeline is big enough?

One option is to take the deals you have already won and add the full sales value of the pipeline.

That’s likely to give you a positive feeling. The two added together will likely exceed target.

Unfortunately, it’s not realistic. I doubt you are going to win 100% of your sales pipeline.

A more pragmatic way is to set a realistic probability of winning each deal. Then use this to calculate the Expected Revenue of the pipeline.

Remember, in salesforce you do not have to accept the default probability associated with each Stage. Modify these probabilities on individual opportunities.

An essential Q4 sales strategy is to determine whether you have enough pipeline to meet year-end target.

Then, to determine whether you have enough pipeline to hit Q4 target, create a report based on Expected Revenue. Include both Closed Won and pipeline deals.

Compare the total value in the report with your target.

Now you have a choice:

  • If the Expected Revenue exceeds target, focus on closing the deals you already have.
  • If the Expected Revenue is smaller than your target, you need to decide if it is realistic to increase the pipeline with deals that will close in Q4.

Q4 sales strategies are influenced by whether there is enough funnel to meet quota.

It may not be easy to find deals that realistically will close in Q4.

The circumstances will be different for every business. However,

  • Are there existing customers to whom repeat sales are possible?
  • What about upgrades?
  • Can you make cross sales to customers that bought certain products?

Only you know the answer to these questions.

However, in my experience, it’s a mistake to seek-out new pipeline with smaller prospects.  Often, there’s an assumption these lower value deals will close more quickly.

However, it often takes as long to close a smaller customer opportunity because the relative importance of the deal is greater.

Ideally, don’t leave it until the very end of the year or Q4 to measure pipeline against target.

The GSP Target Tracker is a powerful way to compare won and pipeline deals with target throughout the year. For each month and quarter, it gives a clear indication of whether you have sufficient weighted pipeline to achieve quota.

 

3. Prioritize time on high impact deals

The third of the Q4 sales strategies sounds obvious:

Focus time, resources and energy on opportunities that make the most significant contribution to quota.

However, there are three dimensions to prioritizing Q4 opportunities:

  • The sales value of the deal.
  • The probability of winning the deal, and
  • Whether multiple small opportunities can combine into one larger deal.

You can prioritize on the first two dimensions by creating a report that lists the opportunities by Stage, Amount and Probability:

You may also want to adapt the report to show the pipeline by customer type.

As part of your Q4 sales strategy, prioritize opportunities by stage, amount, probability and customer type.

This helps you prioritize deals with existing customers that despite their Stage may have a higher probability of a successful outcome.

Consider also, whether there are Accounts with multiple opportunities.

In the GSP Sales Dashboard, we include a table and report that shows the pipeline by Account.

In the GSP Sales Dashboard, we include a table and report that shows the pipeline by Account.

In the GSP Sales Dashboard, we include a table and report that shows the pipeline by Account.

In this example, High Hill Estates has opportunities due to close in Q1 AND Q2. Is it possible to amalgamate these deals into one larger opportunity, with a successful close in Q4?

Easily identify the deals you and your team will focus on using a separate field “Q4 Focus” field.

As part of your Q4 sales strategy, focus on deals that will have a high impact on year-end revenue.

Having done this analysis, the goal now is to stick to your higher priority deals. Don’t get distracted!

4. Create a Close Plan for each high priority opportunity

Many businesses will create a Close Plan for important deals.

The Q4 sales strategy brings this to a head.

However, there’s no need to overdo it.

Create the close plan using a simple rich text field on the Opportunity.

Alternatively, enter it into the Chatter feed for each Opportunity.

This is the approach used by many of our customers has the advantage that managers, colleagues and other internal stakeholders can comment and collaborate on the close plan.

Here’s another common element of this Q4 Sales Strategy:

Agree a Go / No Go Date with the customer.

This is not the date you expect the deal to close. Nor is it a commitment by the customer that you will win the deal.

Rather, it is the deadline date by which you and the customer will aim to close the deal. One way or the other.

This date for example, might be 15th December.

The outcome may be a win or a loss, we don’t yet know. The Go / No Go date is the point at which you both agree the deal cannot be closed in Q4 and you will instead revisit the opportunity in the New Year.

In salesforce, record these dates in a custom field. Track them through a report and Q4 dashboard chart.

The previous Q4 sales strategies are about identifying realistic deals, prioritizing effort and achieving a successful outcome.

The final Q4 sales strategy takes a different approach.

 

5. Protect yourself against damaging discounts

We all know discounts and volume related deals are sacrificed in return for Q4 close dates.

Indeed, many companies have inadvertently trained their customers to leave purchases to the end of each quarter.

However, this Q4 sales strategy is to keep track of the rationale for each discount and give-away.

For example, you give a discount or preferential terms because the customer agrees to buy 100 units over three months (e.g. in a framework agreement).

Keep a record of the rationale for the discount or special terms.

That’s because, let’s say, it turns out the customer only ever orders 80 or 90 units.

You won’t always go back and negotiate a retrospective price increase. However, this information is invaluable when negotiating future discounts.

Use this information now when the customer is putting you under pressure on a Q4 close.

Look back over historic deals. Did the customer fulfil their side of the bargain? If not, use this information to strengthen your negotiating hand.

The Chatter feed on each opportunity is a good place to record the rationale for discounts and other terms given away in return for customer commitments.

That’s the fifth of the Q4 sales strategies that successful executives apply:

Keep track of the rationale behind the agreement and make it easy to find when you are under pressure.

Our blog post, 10 Expert Tips To Improving Discount Control gives more advice on avoiding unnecessary give-aways.

If you think others will benefit from reading this blog, please share on LinkedIn or Twitter.

3 Ways To Measure Performance Against Sales Targets In Salesforce

3 Ways To Measure Performance Against Sales Targets In Salesforce

Many frustrated people search in vain for the Sales Targets tab in salesforce.

Don’t waste your time.

It does not exist.

However, measuring performance against sales targets is a critical activity in running a sales team.

Isn’t it?

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

Nevertheless, it goes deeper than that.

Sales managers need to know two things:

First, how does historic performance stack up against sales targets? They need to know this by company, sales team, individual rep and other dimensions.

Second, executives must understand whether there is enough pipeline. Is the funnel big enough to meet the target this month, next month or next quarter?

Without this information, you are flying blind.

That is an uncomfortable position.

That’s because it’s difficult to know which controls to adjust to be sure of hitting sales targets.

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

Alternatively, if there is insufficient pipeline you have a different challenge. You must close the deals that do exist. However, the sales team must also find new opportunities simply to have a chance of hitting sales targets.

This means measuring performance against both historic and future sales targets is essential.

To do this, there are three options for tracking performance against sales targets in salesforce.

  1. Dashboard gauge.
  2. The Forecasts tab.
  3. Custom solution.

We explain how each one works, its pros and cons and when each is the best option.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

Download the FREE eBook today from our website

 

Options for measuring sales targets in salesforce

Here are the three options. Collectively, they provide salespeople and managers with different levels of information and target tracking experience.

We describe the options and give pointers to indicate the situation when 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 targets.

The arrow indicator shows the current sales performance. Use the red, amber and green segments to set relevant breakpoints. For example, amber to represent 80% sales 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 time period.

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 measures performance at the company level, there’s no visibility of individual rep or sales team performance against sales targets.
  • Manual re-calibration of breakpoint values is required for each target period. In other words, 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 winning 30% of pipeline deals will be the sales target.

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, set up similar gauges for individual salespeople and teams.
  • Sales targets are the same for each period. In other words, it is not necessary to modify breakpoints each month.

The dashboard gauge is a viable option for relatively straightforward measurement of sales targets.

It’s a simple solution.

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. This will five full visibility of sales performance and pipeline.

Option 2 – Salesforce Forecasts Tab

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

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

You can view Closed Won opportunities that contribute to sales targets in the Forecasts tab.

Pipeline deals are also included. Categorize opportunities to indicate the chances of a successful close. This gives managers important information on the strength of the funnel and the likelihood of hitting target.

Managers can override the forecasts made by their direct reports. For example, they can adjust the overall forecast to balance excessive optimism or pessimism of salespeople.

However, there is a downside.

The Forecasts tab is complex.

It’s the most difficult functionality sales people are likely to use.

Training and coaching is needed to use the Forecasts tab successfully in tracking performance against sales targets.

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 implies 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.

Contact us if you’re interested in exploring this option, we can help!

Option 3 – GSP Target Tracker

Many of our customers use the GSP Target Tracker to measure performance against sales target.

Click play to see how the GSP Target Tracker measures sales performance against sales targets in salesforce.

As a managed package, the Target Tracker is easy to implement into any salesforce environment.

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

Closed won and pipeline deals automatically link to relevant sales targets. Targets are measured against secured business plus 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 automatically linked to this target record. The Target Tracker does this by looking at the Close Date of the Opportunity and the Opportunity Owner.

Opportunities link automatically to the relevant sales targets.

The Opportunity links to the relevant target; in this case, Michael Watson’s sales 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 of hitting target based on the pipeline deals.

Dashboard charts summarize company and team level information.

Dashboard charts summarize company and team level performance against sales targets.

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.

Track Sales Performance And Pipeline Versus Target

Get more details about the GSP Sales Target Tracker

 

Pros of the GSP Target Tracker

  • It’s easy for sales reps use. Opportunities automatically link to relevant targets.
  • Highly visual information on performance against target.
  • 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.

It’s the right choice if

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

Recorded Webinar on sales targets in salesforce

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

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.

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.

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

Is Your Sales Funnel Big Enough To Make Quota?

Is Your Sales Funnel Big Enough To Make Quota?

Many managers that use salesforce are still not gaining the sales funnel insight they expected.

In particular, they want to know much more about the sales funnel and their revenue goals.

Sure, they’ve got salesforce dashboards set up. These give visibility of the sales funnel and sales performance. But its still a challenge to create a robust sales forecast.

That means they can’t use salesforce to get a definitive answer to that most fundamental of questions.

Is my sales funnel big enough to make my revenue target?

But it’s worse than that.

Knowing you’ve enough sales funnel to make your target for this month is one thing. But what if the sales funnel only contains early-stage Opportunities? Deals that may take two or three months to close. How confident can you be then of achieving this months’ target?

Fortunately there’s a sure-fire way to use salesforce.com to know whether you’ve enough sales funnel – of the right type – to meet your revenue target.

Not just the target for this month. The quarter’s sales target too. Indeed, businesses that track the sales funnel in salesforce in the way we describe here, get a clear picture of how likely they are to achieve annual, quarterly and monthly revenue targets.

Here’s how it works. And when you’re done watch the accompanying video.

Monthly Sales Target

First you need a new custom object and a new tab. Let’s call it Monthly Sales Target, although it doesn’t really matter how it’s named. If Monthly Sales Quota, Revenue Objective or Monthly Sales Forecast make more sense in your business, that’s fine.

The Monthly Sales Target stores the sales target for each sales person for each month. There’s a record in salesforce for each sales person for every month of the year. If you track performance against target quarterly, rather than monthly, that’s fine. There’s simply going to be four records per sales person per year, rather than 12.

The ‘Month’ and ‘Year’ fields on the Monthly Sales Target tell us the time period to which the target relates.

Here’s the most important field, Sales Target. This is the target or quota for the sales person for that month. Every month may have the same Sales Target figure, or they can vary to reflect seasonal trends. It’s up to you.

Compare Sales Funnel to Monthly Sales Target

Here’s how you know whether there’s enough sales funnel to meet the Sales Target figure.

You need some code that automatically links each Opportunity to the relevant Monthly Sales Target. You can either build the code yourself or you can purchase our pre-built target tracker app.

Here’s what the code does. It looks at the Opportunity Owner and the Opportunity Close Date. Then it links the Opportunity to the Monthly Sales Target that matches the Owner and the From / To dates.

Link the sales funnel Opportunity to the Monthly Sales Target

If the Close Date subsequently changes, then the code ‘unhooks’ the Opportunity from that particular Monthly Sales Target and links it to a new one.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

Download the FREE eBook today from our website

Sales Funnel Metrics

Next, the code ‘rolls-up’ the value of all Opportunities to the Monthly Sales Target.

These metrics indicate whether the sales funnel is big enough to meet the revenue target.

Critical metrics on the Monthly Sales Target help you understand whether you’ve enough sales funnel to meet your revenue target. These include:

  • Won Amount. The value of all Opportunities that have an Opportunity Stage of Closed Won.
  • Funnel Amount. The value of all Opportunities in the sales funnel.
  • Weighted Sales Funnel. The value of all Opportunities in the sales funnel, based on the Expected Amount (the Opportunity Amount multiplied by the Probability).
  • Expected Revenue. The value of Closed Won Opportunities plus the Weighted Sales Funnel.

In many businesses, this last one is a killer metric.

Expected Revenue

The Expected (or Weighted) Revenue figure shows whether this sales person has enough sales funnel, combined with the business they’ve already closed, to meet their sales target.

In our example above, the month target is £30,000, but the Expected Revenue is just under £25,000. We don’t have enough! This is emphasized in the percentage figures on the right. The embedded chart also shows a shortfall in the sales funnel compared to target.

But there’s more to it than that.

Sales Funnel Shape

Look at the chart to the right of the salesforce page. It provides more detail on the sales funnel Opportunities associated with this Monthly Sales Target record.

Look at the Monthly Sales Target for the current month. Let’s say your deals typically run through a 90-day sales cycle. That means you don’t want to see many deals forecast to close this month, in the Prospecting Stage. It’s likely these deals aren’t going to close in the current month.

On the other hand, if it’s the Monthly Sales Target for three months’ time, then look at the sales funnel shape. Lots of early-stage funnel Opportunities due to close in three months is probably a good thing.

Sales Funnel Dashboard

But what about the company or team-level sales target?

Here’s how we find out if the sales funnel is big enough to meet these revenue targets.

The dashboard chart and underlying report give us that information. And using Expected Revenue, the reports give us a robust sales forecast. One that will stand up to detailed scrutiny.

Sales funnel compared to revenue targets using a salesforce dashboard.

Of course, none of this replaces the need for proper sales funnel management.

The Opportunity Probability still needs to be reliable on each deal. But it does give the sales manager the tools necessary for effective sales funnel management. This is especially the case if the Monthly Sales Target reports are used in conjunction with other salesforce dashboards and reports that identify the poor quality deals. These are the deals that over-inflate your sales funnel. Weed out the lame ducks that give a false sense of future revenue.

And finally, get in touch today if you’d like to test drive our target tracker app for yourself.

Watch Gary demonstrate the salesforce funnel management solution described in this blog in this video.

Track Sales Performance And Pipeline Versus Target

Download the FREE App from our website today

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

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

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

Colin Parish, VP of Sales at Moderna, read our blog post, 12 Must-Have Charts On Your Salesforce Dashboard.

“That’s the dashboard for me”, thought Colin. “Especially the Pipeline by Stage and Month.”

So Colin had his system administrator install the dashboard from the AppExchange.

But there was a problem.

The most important dashboard chart didn’t look like the beautiful example in our blog post.

Salesforce dashboard chart showing opportunities by close date and stage.

Colin’s was, well, to put it frankly, a mess. It was full of deals with opportunity close dates in the past.

Pipeline has lots of opportunities with close dates in the past.

“It looked more like an old washing line”, said Colin.

This meant Colin didn’t get the pipeline visibility he craved. The opportunity close dates in the past destroyed the benefits the chart brings. And Colin couldn’t tell which deals were still alive and which had been lost.

So Colin called us up. Asked what he should do. We were happy to help. Here’s what we said.

We explained to Colin that there are two sides to the problem.

  1. Existing deals with opportunity close dates in the past. Colin needs to sort out the existing opportunities with a close date in the past. We told him there are five ways this can be done and explained when each approach is appropriate.
  2. Colin needs to stop the ‘opportunity close dates in the past problem’ from recurring again.

So, here’s what Colin did to solve the problem. And what he’s doing now to stop it happening again.

If your pipeline chart looks like an old washing line, you can easily do the same.

Fix the immediate ‘Close Dates in the past’ problem

You have five options for dealing with the problem of opportunities with close dates in the past.

1. Go through the opportunities one by one yourself

Update the Close Date on each opportunity.

At the same time, change the Opportunity Stage for deals that should no longer be in the sales pipeline. For example, change the Opportunity Stage to Closed Won or Closed Lost.

This approach is appropriate when:

  • There’s a relatively small number of opportunities.
  • Accurately updating each opportunity with a close date in the past is important.
  • You’re prepared to do the work yourself (or can’t get anyone else to do it).

2. Mass update all opportunities to Closed Won or Closed Lost

This is the broad-brush approach. Simply set all opportunities with a close date in the past to Won or Lost.

You can do it with a little more subtlety though. For example, mass update all opportunities where the close date is more than one year in the past.

To do this you can use a List View to update many opportunities at the same time. (Tip: If you use Opportunity Record Types then filter the List Views by record type in order to perform mass updates).

This approach is appropriate when:

  • The accuracy of opportunities with close dates in the past doesn’t matter too much.
  • There are far too many opportunities to go through one by one.
  • You are prepared to sacrifice the accuracy of historic sales performance reports.

3. Get salespeople to update their own opportunities

This is a variation of option 1.

Get the Opportunity Owners to do their own dirty work. Have them go through their opportunities and update the Close Dates and (where appropriate) the Opportunity Stage.

This approach is appropriate when:

  • The accuracy of reports and charts that track historic sales performance is important.
  • There are viable opportunities that have close dates in the past.
  • It is a worthwhile investment in time for salespeople to review out of date opportunities.

4. Mass update all Close Dates in the past to a future date

Take all the out-of-date opportunities that are still open and give them a close date in the future.

Then you – or the sales team – take time to update each opportunity accurately.

This approach is appropriate when:

  • There are live or viable opportunities with close dates in the past.
  • No one has the time to sort them out right now.
  • Until the opportunities are reviewed, you are prepared to accept that the pipeline chart will contain lost or dormant deals.

5. Sweep the problem under the carpet

Modify the report that underpins the dashboard chart. Change the Close Date ‘From’ value so it only includes opportunities where the close date is greater than a specific point in time.

For example, you might filter the report to show opportunities with a Close Date ‘From’ the first day of this month. That means there will only be a relatively small number of opportunities on the report with close dates in the past. Just sort those out and ignore the rest.

This approach is appropriate when:

  • It is unlikely anyone will get around to updating out-of-date opportunities.
  • The pipeline chart will be based only on opportunities with close dates greater than the date you have chosen – and you are prepared to accept this.
  • Your system administrator acknowledges that all dashboard pipeline reports will need to incorporate the fixed ‘From’ date.

Optionally, combine some of these options.

For example, you might do a mass that sets opportunities with a close date of more than one year ago, to Closed Lost.

Then, update the remainder so they have a Close Date in the future. Have salespeople go through these deals one by one to pick out the viable deals.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

Download the FREE eBook today from our website

Stop the ‘close dates in the past’ problem from recurring

If the pipeline chart contains deals with Close Dates in the past then you lack clear pipeline visibility.

That means you can’t get an accurate revenue forecast. And it is impossible to know whether you have enough pipeline, to meet future sales targets.

Here are four ways you stop the problem happening again.

1. Avoid sloppy management

Proactive sales management means being on top of the pipeline. In that case, there shouldn’t be any deals with close dates in the past. Simple as that.

Good sales management means the sales pipeline is well maintained. It gives sales managers the key information they need to conduct funnel reviews at all times.

2. Coach salespeople to self-manage their pipeline

Sloppy sales management is only part of the story.

Effective salespeople don’t allow their pipelines to become out of date.

Salespeople need to understand the importance of keeping the Close Dates and Opportunity Stages accurate. That means each person has an accurate view of his or her pipeline.

3. Create an alert when the Close Date is today

Use workflow to create an email alert when an Opportunity is due to close today. This draws the salesperson’s attention to the deal so that they update it.

Optionally, trigger the alert when the Close Date is tomorrow.

This is a useful technique when you need to emphasize the importance of keeping deals up to date. Ideally, salespeople self-manage their pipeline and using dashboard charts tailored to their needs.

But, if you want to draw more attention to deals that need to be updated, then this is one way to do it.

4. Use a validation rule

A validation rule kicks-in when a salesperson makes a change to an opportunity. If the close date is in the past, this prevents the opportunity saving.

Effectively, it means the salesperson has to update the close date in order to make any change.

This solution is often implemented by companies that have a problem with close dates. However, I’m not the greatest fan.

The validation rule approach doesn’t actually prevent the problem from occurring. If the opportunity is not updated (which, given that the close date is in the past suggests is the case) then it won’t prevent close dates from drifting into the past.

The most effective approach is to apply good sales management practice and have salespeople take pride in the accuracy of their individual funnels.

How Colin solved his close dates in the past problem

Colin had several hundred opportunities with close dates in the past.

Here’s what he did.

  1. Colin used an Opportunity List View to quickly identify deals he knew for sure had been won. He updated them on the salesperson’s behalf to Closed Won.
  2. Then he set all deals more than a year old to Closed Lost. Some of these deals were probably won. However, as the opportunity was out of date, it’s likely many were lost. Colin accepted the risk of inaccuracy in historic reports.
  3. He assigned two hours one Friday afternoon. Each salesperson reviewed and updated their own opportunities during this time. A number of dormant opportunities were re-energized as a result of this focused review.
  4. Colin explained to his team managers the importance of good pipeline management.
  5. He had everyone read our blog post about the Open Opportunities by Stage and Month.
  6. Colin played this video at his team meeting. The video and blog post gave managers valuable insight into how to use the dashboard chart to manage the pipeline effectively.
  7. Colin had every sales manager explain the importance to salespeople at local sales team meetings.
  8. He mandated a review of the Open Opportunities by Stage dashboard chart at every sales meeting.
  9. Colin got his system administrator to create a second version of the sales dashboard. This runs on ‘My Opportunities’. The sales managers educated each salesperson on how to use the dashboard to analyze their own pipeline and sales performance.

The result? Colin gets a robust view of the company sales pipeline. Now, he accurately identifies the action sales people and managers need to take to boost revenue. And it means Colin is confident of making is quota.

“Now, this truly is the dashboard chart for me”, says Colin.

Related 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 Plug A Leaking Funnel In The Right Place

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

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

Download the FREE eBook today

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

Download FREE from the AppExchange today

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.

Want A Free Review Of Salesforce Within Your Business?

Get in touch today!

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

Download the FREE eBook today

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

Find out more and watch the video

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?

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

Download the FREE eBook today from our website

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

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.

Related Blog Posts

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

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How To Spot Neglected Accounts You Should Be Focusing On

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

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

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

Size matters.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Big is beautiful. At least when it comes to pipeline size.

That’s all other things being equal, of course. Bigger is better, assuming the sales pipeline only contains deals of the right quality. To make sure this is the case, there are a number of dashboard charts and reports that accurately measure sales pipeline quality.

So, here are the four salesforce dashboard charts and underlying reports that accurately measure the size of the sales pipeline.

1. Pipeline size by Close Date and Stage

If you only create one pipeline size dashboard chart then make it this one. It’s the starting point for any funnel review focused on pipeline size.

Salesforce dashboard chart showing pipeline size by month and stage.

The dashboard chart shows the size of the pipeline by Close Date. The individual segments group the pipeline size by Opportunity Stage.

Why this chart is useful

Use this chart to assess the size and strength of the pipeline, both near term and into the future.

Here are three examples of the insights this chart gives.

  • Pipeline size this month. The dashboard chart in our example shows the pipeline for September is £2.5M. Let’s assume the typical sales cycle is 3 months. In which case, we need to confirm how many of those deals in the Prospecting Stage can be relied upon to successfully close this month.
  • Negotiation Pipeline. October and November both have deals at the Negotiation Stage. Is it really going to take several months to conclude these opportunities? Maybe. But it is also probably worth investigating whether these deals can be brought forward to boost this months’ revenue.
  • End of year pipeline. December shows an upturn in the size of the pipeline. We need to know if this is realistic. Is there a compelling reason why more deals will close this month? Sometimes December 31st is entered into opportunities on the basis of, “well, it’s bound to close sometime this year”. If so, then the December pipeline size is overstated.

If you like the sound of this dashboard chart that measures pipeline size then read “If You Only Create One Chart Make It This One” (video included).

Incidentally if you have the same problem as Colin Parish – lots of opportunities with close dates in the past – here’s what to do about it.

2. Standard funnel size dashboard chart

This chart shows the pipeline size in the form of a traditional sales funnel.

Opportunity funnel dashboard chart showing total sales pipeline.

It’s often the first chart that gets created on the dashboard because it’s the one that resembles a traditional funnel.

Why this chart is useful

Actually, we have mixed views about this chart.

The funnel chart is a good way to check whether the pipeline is in proportion.

In the chart above, for example, the value of deals in the Investigating Stage and Customer Evaluating Stage is almost identical. This suggests a shortage of pipeline in the earlier Investigating Stage. It’s highlighting that the funnel is out of kilter.

Here’s another example. Look at the funnel size chart below.

Pipeline size displayed on a funnel dashboard chart highlighting that there is a shortage of early-stage opportunities.

The total pipeline is exactly the same. But the pipeline is short of deals at the first Opportunity Stage, Prospecting. Again, it’s highlighting a sales revenue problem down the road.

But there’s several things to watch out for with this chart.

First, there’s not time context with this chart. It shows the total size of the pipeline, irrespective of when those deals are likely to close.

Second, the shape of the dashboard chart doesn’t vary with the amount of pipeline at each Stage. What does vary is the height of the slices and the numbers within them.

So be careful. This pipeline size dashboard chart is a good one to eyeball every week. It describes whether the total pipeline is in proportion. And that’s a good reason to have it on your dashboard.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

Download the FREE eBook today from our website

3. Pipeline size dashboard metrics

When is a dashboard chart not a chart? When it’s a dashboard Metric.

Here’s an example of what we mean.

Dashboard metric showing total pipeline size.

A salesforce dashboard metric gives a single total figure that it pulls from the underlying report.

So, to easily view the total size of the pipeline, use a metric.

Here are two other examples. First, the total value of open opportunities due to close this month.

Dashboard metric showing total pipeline size due to close this month.

And second, the size of the pipeline due to close next month.

Dashboard metric showing total pipeline size due to close next month.

What it’s good for

Dashboard metrics give an immediate understanding of the overall size of the pipeline.

In the example above, if you know your sales target for next month £0.5M, then all other things being equal, you’re probably in good shape. If the target is £1.5M you’ve got a problem. But least you know there’s a problem, and that gives you chance to do something about it.

4. Trend in the size of the pipeline

This chart measures the trend in the size of the pipeline. It’s called the As-At Historical Pipeline Trend report and dashboard chart.

As-At dashboard chart that displays the size of the pipeline on the 1st day of each month.

The chart shows the size of the pipeline As-At the first day of each month. We can see here that the month-on-month trend is positive. The pipeline is getting bigger.

What it’s good for

Effective sales managers know the size of the pipeline at any point in time.

But they also know the trend in the size of the pipeline. The trend tells them whether they are doing the right things. Moving in the right direction. Making headway.

This dashboard chart also comes with a little sister that measures the trend in pipeline size on a daily and weekly basis. Read this blog post to find out more about pipeline size trend dashboard charts.

Pipeline size salesforce dashboard

Here’s what a salesforce dashboard might look like with these four charts that measure sales pipeline size.

Salesforce dashboard chart that gives management insight into the pipeline and funnel size.

The dashboard charts give sales executives the essential information on pipeline size. And the bigger the size of the pipeline, the more you are likely to sell.

All other things being equal.

But size is no good without high quality. It’s important to identify which deals need to be questioned in terms of close dates. That’s why we’ve also published blog posts that demonstrate specific dashboard charts to measure the quality of deals in the sales funnel. Combine with the pipeline quality charts with pipeline size charts to get the complete management picture.

For help with all things dashboards, of course, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

Related Blog Posts

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

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

3 Killer Pipeline Quality Metrics To Highlight When To Be Sceptical

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

5 Tips To Increase Average Deal Size Using Salesforce

5 Tips To Increase Average Deal Size Using Salesforce

You might think there’s not much that can be done to increase average deal size.

Other than apply good old fashioned sales skills.

But you’d be wrong.

In fact there are 5 things that can be done in salesforce to help increase average deal size and drive revenue.

  • Compare average deal size across sales people.
  • Measure the number of optional products on opportunities.
  • Make it easier to find and add optional products to opportunities.
  • Get a grip of discounts.
  • Create product bundles.

Let’s explain how each one works in salesforce and look at the relevant dashboard charts.

1. Compare average deal size across sales people.

As the saying goes, what gets measured gets managed.

The mere presence of a dashboard chart indicates that average deal size is important.

Compare the average deal size across sales people to communicate that this sales metric is important.

This is the most basic way to measure average deal size but it adds major value. By comparing the average deal size by sales person, the chart:

  • Tells sales people this is a metric that is important.
  • Helps identify training needs.
  • Highlights successful people from whom we can learn.
  • Provides factual information that can be used in 1.1s and reviews.

It’s a simple and easy dashboard chart to create. Simply create a standard opportunities report and summarize the Amount by Average rather than Sum.

Start comparing average deal size across sales people today.

2. Measure the number of optional products per opportunity

On most opportunities there are one or more core products.

It’s these products that comprise the bulk of the opportunity sales value.

But there are often a number of optional products that can be added. Optional products might include additional enhancements, complimentary product features and service and support contracts.

And guess what? There are often two characteristics of optional products.

First, they tend to come under less price challenge than core products. And second, the margin on optional products is often higher than on core products.

Adding more optional products to opportunities is a critical way to increase the average deal size. That’s why you want to measure it.

The average deal size can be increased by adding more optional products.

The chart compares the performance of sales people in adding optional products. Here is the impact of adding optional products on average deal size and revenue.

Average deal size can be measured by core and optional products.

That’s important information when it comes to training, coaching and managing sales people.

The same information can be created at team and company level.

Compare opportunities with and without at the sales team level.

Let’s look now at how to make it easier for sales people to add optional products to opportunities.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

Download the FREE eBook today from our website

3. Use a product selection wizard

We agree that adding optional products is an essential way to increase average deal size.

But here’s the rub.

Using the standard page layout, it’s not particularly easy to find and add products to opportunities in salesforce. Especially if there are a lot of products.

And that’s an important reason why optional products get missed off opportunities.

Here’s how many of our customers deal with that challenge. They use a product selection wizard.

Increase average deal size by using a product selection wizard to make it easy to add products to opportunities.

The wizard gives an easy-on-the-eye way to view all products. Sales people can expand each section of the tree and select products from various categories. The pane on the right lists all the opportunity products by the various categories.

The wizard makes it easy to add products to opportunities. And because it’s easier, more optional products get added to opportunities. And that increases the average deal size.

For more information on using a product selection wizard visit our dedicated blog page.

4. Create product bundles

Very often groups of products can be bundled together.

Bundling products has several advantages.

  • Essential but relatively minor products don’t get accidentally missed off the opportunity.
  • Complimentary optional products can be automatically added to the opportunity.
  • An improved price can be offered to the customer compared to purchasing the products individually.

All of these benefits help to increase the average deal size.

The combination of products that can be bundled together is created by an experienced product manager.

Sales people select the bundle using a similar interface to the product selection wizard.

Increase average deal size by adding product bundles to opportunities.

When sales people associate a bundle with an opportunity, all of the products in the bundle are added to the opportunity.

The customer benefits from a reduced price or increased discount for buying as a bundle. And the effect from a sales perspective is to increase the average deal size.

5. Get a grip of discounts

It stands to reason. The bigger the discount the lower the average deal size.

Discounts are a fact of commercial life. But in many businesses there is loose control over discounts.

Discount approvals are often handled in an unstructured way. Requests and approvals are often communicated by ad hoc emails and phone conversations.

The result of this is often that a higher level of discount is approved than is needed to secure the deal. And this impacts the average deal size.

The solution is to use the salesforce approvals functionality.

The approvals functionality in salesforce allows managers to control discounts.

Using Approvals means that pre-defined rules can be created based on the size of the discount. There is a full audit trail of the discount request and approval on the opportunity. And discount requests can be approved by email or Chatter and automatically updated on the opportunity.

In my experience this controls discounts in two ways.

  • Discount requests become more formal. This encourages sales people to think more deeply about whether a discount is really necessary to win the deal.
  • Management control is increased. This can mean that overall, lower level of discounts are offered to customers.
  • A quid-pro-quo is more often obtained from the customer in return for a discount. An increased product quantity or longer contract term for example.

The outcome is an overall lower level of discounting and higher average deal size.

You should also consider using discounts in conjunction with volume based pricing within salesforce. Too often salespeople have to calculate volume related discounts in spreadsheets or ring binders. Bring discounts under control by calculating them directly within the system.

The average deal size is not a sales metric that should be left to look after itself. There are things that can be done to proactively increase it.

If you would like a customised demo of how to increase the average deal size in your business then simply fill in the form below. We’ll get in touch to arrange a time for a web meeting.

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