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Top 5 Usual Suspects – Opportunity Mistakes In Salesforce That Are Easy To Fix

Top 5 Usual Suspects – Opportunity Mistakes In Salesforce That Are Easy To Fix

I have reviewed hundreds of existing salesforce implementations.

And seen many mistakes.

But there are five opportunity mistakes that jump out all the time.

They are the usual suspects.

Yet the thing about them is, they are easy to fix.

Addressing each opportunity mistake alone, will:

  • Make salesforce easier to use. That improves user adoption.
  • Improve reports and dashboards. That improves pipeline management.
  • Enable more robust opportunity management. That increases win rates.

So here they are. The usual suspects. And here is how you fix these common salesforce opportunity mistakes.

Opportunity Mistake #1 – Badly designed Opportunity Stages

The standard opportunity stages in salesforce do not fit well with the sales process in many businesses.

So it is perfectly sensible to change them. But sorry to say, businesses often do it badly.

Here are the most common mistakes with Opportunity Stages.

  • Too many stages. This happens when the sales cycle is broken into a too granular series of stages. This makes it difficult to make sense of pipeline dashboard charts and reports.
  • Ambiguous stages. When opportunity stages are unclear, salespeople will not be able to update the opportunity accurately. The result is managers cannot assess the sales pipeline with any confidence.
  • Stages as milestones. This happens when stages represent a specific milestone or task (e.g. Meeting Booked, Proposal Sent). It is difficult to define a sales process or get a sense of what is happening on the Opportunity over time when this happens.

For example, here’s a real-life example. It’s a dashboard chart taken from a salesforce environment that had way too many opportunity stages.

Example of a dashboard chart taken from a salesforce environment that had too many opportunity stages.

To fix this opportunity mistake, take these actions:

  • Consolidate stages. Combine two or more existing stages into a single opportunity stage. Update existing opportunities to reflect the new value.
  • Define stages carefully. Think-through the opportunity stages and their definition. Have someone not involved directly in sales, review and challenge your stage definitions.

Here is another blog post I wrote specifically about opportunity stages. It contains additional advice on setting opportunity stage values.

3 Common Mistakes With Opportunity Stages And How To Fix Them.

Opportunity Mistake #2 – Not Using Opportunity Products

Earlier this week I reviewed an existing salesforce environment for a potential customer.

They were making the opportunity mistake common to many companies. Multiple ‘amount’ fields on the opportunity. In fact, they had created 24 fields. All to capture information about the different products and over-time revenue streams associated with an opportunity.

The page layouts are highly confusing. User adoption is a problem. And the reports are a nightmare – too complicated, no workable information.

However, it is a common opportunity mistake.

The solution is to use Opportunity Products. (In some cases, use Product Schedules as well).

Virtually every company that has salesforce should use Products (even Service companies).

A Product, in this context, can be anything that generates revenue. A day of professional services, manufactured items, maintenance contracts, license fees, widgets. They are all examples of Products.

Here are some of the benefits you get from using Opportunity Products.

  • Accurate opportunity amounts. Base the total value of the opportunity on the specific price and quantity of products.
  • Improved pipeline visibility. Monitor the size, trend and quality of the pipeline by product category.
  • Identify training and development needs. Compare average deal size, number of products and type of products across salespeople.
  • Pricing control. Use approval processes to control price discounts.
  • Forecast revenue over time. Combine products and schedules to forecast revenue over months or years.
  • Streamline processes. Re-design contract and fulfilment processes.

If you have many Products, then consider using the GSP Product Selection Wizard to make it easy for salespeople to add Products to Opportunities or Quotes.

Use the GSP Product Selection Wizard to make it easy for salespeople to add Products to Opportunities or Quotes.

Here are two blog posts that give more guidance on using Products and Product Schedules.

Missing Out On The Value Of Products? Learn The Basics

5 Killer Examples Of Recurring Revenue Forecasts In Salesforce

Manage 4 Types of Framework Agreement In Salesforce

Opportunity Mistake #3 – Not Using Contact Roles

Even a simple B2B purchase rarely involves only one person.

“The number of people involved in B2B solutions purchases has climbed from an average of 5.4 two years ago to 6.8 today, and these stakeholders come from a lengthening roster of roles, functions, and geographies.” Harvard Business Review, March-April 2017.

However, not using Contact Roles is another common opportunity mistake in salesforce.

It’s not perfect. On the other hand, it is a standard feature that is easy to configure and use.

Contact Roles is a standard salesforce feature that is easy to configure and use.

The benefits you will get from using Contact Roles include:

  • Increased rigour in managing opportunities. The simple act of populating Contact Roles, forces salespeople to think about their stakeholder management approach.
  • Improved management team contribution. Often it is hard to define the decision maker, versus an influencer versus the financial approver. Yet surfacing this information in Contact Roles promotes healthy debate about the role played by each individual.
  • Improved long-term visibility. Using Contact Roles makes it significantly easier to identify the stakeholders that keep cropping up over time.

There is more on Contact Roles, including advice on the Role picklist values, in another of our blogs:

The Right Way And The Wrong Way To Track Opportunity Stakeholders

Opportunity Mistake #4 – Not using Chatter on the record

On any major deal – and even on many small ones – there will be a lot of communication between internal stakeholders.

Pricing, strategy, pre-sales demonstrations, stakeholder management and lots more. They are all the subject of extensive discussion.

However, managing that internal communication by email is a common opportunity mistake.

Using email for this dialogue means:

  • It’s difficult to revisit important discussion e.g. on discount decisions.
  • Important dialogue about the opportunity is dis-jointed.
  • Less clogged up inbox. Surely, we all want that!

Indeed B2B pricing consultant, Tony Hodgson, attributes many needless price discounts to email.

“Let’s say you give a 10 percent discount to the customer first time around. The dialogue around the internal justification and approval will nearly always be by email. A year down the line, the customer asks for a further discount. Chances are they are going to use the same justification in their argument that they used previously. Yet you consumed that justification in the original discount. But unfortunately, everyone will have forgotten and it’s virtually impossible to find the documentation.”

Far better, says Hodgson, to use Chatter, directly on the Opportunity.

Use salesforce Chatter directly on the Opportunity.

“Conducting the internal dialogue on the Chatter Feed within the Opportunity leaves no doubt as to where the justification and documentation resides. It’s there forever and a day. Maybe you’ll still agree to the discount – but at least you’re doing it with full knowledge of what went before”.

10 Expert Tips To Give Away Smaller Price Discounts

Opportunity Mistake #5 – Close Dates in the past

Unless you have a time turner, opportunities will not close in the past.

However, this is a very common opportunity mistake. An open pipeline that contains deals with a close date earlier than today.

In fact, many pipelines contain deals that are months out of date. This is a real-life example of what that looks like in a dashboard chart.

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

The impact of having out-of-date opportunities in the pipeline includes:

  • Poor quality pipeline visibility.
  • Inaccurate performance metrics e.g. errors in win-rate percentages.
  • Inability to forecast reliably.

The way you fix this problem depends on the scale of the situation and the resources at your disposal. You have the following choices:

  • Sweep the problem under the carpet.
  • Fix the problem yourself.
  • Get the sales team to fix the dates.
  • Take broad-brush approach with a mass update of opportunities.
  • Adopt a hybrid approach incorporating several of the above.

This is such a common opportunity mistake that I have written an entire blog post about it. It describes each approach to solving the problem in more detail and explains when they are appropriate.

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

So there they are. The top five opportunity mistakes in salesforce. Go ahead, and fix the usual suspects in your business.

Make It Fast & Easy To Add Product To Opportunities Or Quotes

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Related Blog Posts

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5 Killer Ways To Increase Your Salesforce Benefits

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

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

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

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

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

In fact, it goes deeper than that.

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

Without this information, you are flying blind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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Options for measuring sales targets in salesforce

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

Option 1 – Dashboard Gauge

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

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

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

Pros of the gauge approach

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

Cons of the gauge approach

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

It’s the right choice if

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

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

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

Option 2 – Salesforce Forecasts Tab

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pros of the Forecasts Tab

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

Cons of the Forecasts Tab

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

It’s the right choice if

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

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

Option 3 – GSP Target Tracker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dashboard charts summarize company and team level information.

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

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

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

Pros of the GSP Target Tracker

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

Cons of the GSP Target Tracker

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

It’s the right choice if

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

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

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

Track Sales Performance And Pipeline Versus Target

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Recorded Webinar on sales targets in salesforce

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

Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

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5 Easy Tips That Will Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend

10 Illuminating Ways To Measure Closed Won Deals

10 Illuminating Ways To Measure Closed Won Deals

It is often surprising how little effort goes into measuring closed won revenue.

I guess that after all, what’s happened has happened.

In most businesses, much more focus, energy and effort is directed towards building the sales pipeline.

But wait a moment.

We can learn from the past. And we can get insights that will help turn pipeline deals into future closed won opportunities.

It’s just a question of looking for those insights in the right places.

So here are 10 dashboard charts that will help you gather information from the past that you can apply today to increase closed won revenue.

1. Closed Won by Month and Territory / Salesperson

This is the starting point for analyzing closed won opportunities and revenue. It’s Chart #1 on our list of 12 Charts That Should Be On Your Salesforce Dashboard.

Measure closed won deals by territory on a salesforce dashboard to track sales performance.

In this example we are showing closed won opportunities for the current financial year. The chart and underlying report give immediate feedback on sales achieved for each territory.

Businesses with smaller sales teams will want to display the information by individual salesperson on the dashboard. Those with larger sales teams should have a dashboard for each territory that summarizes the information at an individual level.

Closed Won opportunities by individual salesperson by month.

With either chart, we have immediate information on the most important sales metric of all in terms of Closed Won opportunities. The level of total sales by person or team.

Based on our understanding of the environment in which team and salesperson operate, we can use the chart to identify potential areas for improvement.

All other things being equal, our chart tells us that we need to identify ways to increase revenue in the West Territory.

In the individual salesperson chart, Dave Apthorp is the top performer. Can Dave’s experience and know-how be shared across the team, particularly to help Shaun increase his sales performance? Are there other coaching, training and support activities that will boost Shaun’s figures?

Before starting that process however, there are other dashboard charts and sales metrics we can use to analyse closed won opportunities. These will help us be more specific and targeted in delivering activities that will increase revenue.

2. Closed Won by Customer Type

Generally it’s quicker and cheaper to sell to existing customers. Yet every business needs to sell to a combination of both existing and new customers in order to grow.

The Closed Won by Customer Type dashboard chart tells us whether we have the right mix for closed won deals in our company.

Examine closed won revenue by customer type to understand the mix between new and existing customers.

The chart shows that we have a weighting towards existing customers for closed won deals. Is this healthy?

Only the business strategy relating to our particular business can tell us that. However, having this information about closed won deals means that we can make judgments that will inform the future sales and marketing approach.

At a more specific level, we can re-format the chart to examine closed won deals by territory or salesperson. This might give us further insight on the best way to increase revenue in the West territory or to help Shaun increase his revenue.

3. Closed Won by Account

In many businesses there is one customer that contributes a disproportionate amount of revenue. In other companies, sales income is more evenly spread.

In either case, knowing your largest 10 customers by closed won deals is essential to implementing your key account management strategy in salesforce.

This dashboard table provides that information.

The top 10 Accounts by closed won revenue is a major factor in improving key account management.

The same table can be used to show the top 10 customers for each Territory or salesperson. This is a great input in defining local key account strategy.

In our example the University of Arizona contributes nearly twice as much revenue as the next customer. Probably everyone knows that is the number one customer already.

But it is likely that there would be less consensus on the other top customers. The closed won by Account dashboard table gives us hard facts that will influence account management and business development.

4. Closed Won by Product

This dashboard chart shows how our closed won revenue is split by product family or product category.

(If you are not using Products in salesforce then there is a very good chance that your pipeline visibility and closed won reporting would be much improved by doing so. Bring Your Opportunities To Life With Products).

Track closed won revenue by product family to identify ways to increase sales.

The chart shows that Generators dominate closed won revenue in our business.

Can revenue be increased for other product categories? It’s likely we want to drill down to the underlying report and see the closed won product information by salesperson, territory and customer. Then we can initiate specific, targeted management interventions to boost revenue for other products.

We might also want to get further insight by looking at the average deal size information shown in the dashboard chart below.

5. Average deal size for closed won opportunities

Analyzing closed won sales by average deal size gives insight that can be used to identify development needs.

This is especially the case if we add additional information to the dashboard chart that digs below the initial surface.

Use a dashboard chart showing the ratio of optional to core products.

In this example, Dave Apthorp consistently has the highest average deal size for closed won revenue.

The value of opportunities based on Dave’s ‘Core’ products is only marginally higher than his colleagues. Where Dave Apthorp really scores is by adding Optional products. Dave is significantly boosting his revenue and average deal size through the inclusion of optional products.

For full advice on the average deal size metric and how to apply it to increase revenue, read Why You Need To Measure Average Deal Size.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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6. Conversion / Win Rates

Opportunity conversion rates (or win rates) compare the ratio of closed won to closed lost deals for a given time period.

The chart below shows the company conversion rate for both the number and value of closed won opportunities.

Opportunity conversion rate dashboard chart in salesforce.

In our example, in the first two months, the win rate by Amount was higher than the win rate by Count. This means we successfully closed a higher proportion of larger opportunities.

In September the position was reversed. A greater proportion of lower values deals were set to closed won.

Is the switch in September due to a short-term change in pricing strategy? Did we experiment with changes in remuneration and commission structures? Can the trend be attributed to marketplace dynamics?

Of course, drilling down to customer type, territory and salesperson level will give us further insight.

But the key thing is that now we are aware of this trend through the dashboard chart. This means we can investigate further and take action if necessary to influence the future sales approach and strategy.

For complete guidance on using Conversion / Win Rates in salesforce review How To Use Opportunity Conversion Rates For Superior Results. 

7. Closed Won by Campaign

The primary purpose of most marketing campaigns is often to produce sales-ready opportunities. Those opportunities then need to be converted successfully into closed won revenue.

The Closed Won by Campaign chart tells us how well each marketing campaign performed in generating sales revenue.

Track closed won revenue by campaign in order to make marketing activities more effective.

The Spring Trade Show and User Conferences were the two marketing campaigns that yielded the most closed won revenue.

As such the chart is a key way of gathering the information that will influence future marketing and business development strategy. It gives great insight into the campaigns we should continue, expand or stop.

Remember that the lead management and conversion process is critical here. If Leads are being converted without creating an Opportunity, then potentially the data for this valuable metric is lost.

Review this blog post for advice on lead management and conversion steps including downloadable process diagrams.

8. Key Sales Metrics for Closed Won Deals

These metrics are powerful ways of assessing the quality of the sales pipeline. In particular they help salespeople and managers identify deals that have a high risk of slipping from one month to the next.

Here are two of the key metrics:

  • Number of Close Date month extensions.
  • Age of the opportunity.

For example, if an opportunity has already slipped from one month to another an excessive number of times, we might question whether it’s correct the deal has a close date for the current month.

Likewise, if we perceive that the average sales cycle is 90 days, should we question a pipeline deal that has been open 120 days? What if the close date has slipped twice already?

But how do we judge if the number of month-on-month slippages or days open are warning signals?

The answer is to look at the key sales metrics for closed won deals.

Looking at key sales metrics for closed won deals can improve forecasting and pipeline management.

The chart gives insight that we can use to manage the sales pipeline effectively going forward.

For example, it shows that the average sales life-cycle for closed won deals is around 90 days (the left axis). The average number of times a closed won deal moved from one month to the next is around 1.5.

Some good news. The number of times the close date slipped from one month to the next for closed won deals is on a downward trend.

It’s a metric we are likely to want to track. All other things being equal, it implies the sales team are becoming more effective at forecasting and predicting when deals will close successfully.

9. Closed Won dashboard gauge

There’s no Target tab in salesforce.

But here’s the easiest way to compare sales versus target in salesforce. It’s a dashboard gauge.

Using a dashboard gauge is one way to track closed won sales versus target.

The gauge shows the value of deals that have been closed won for a given period of time – this financial year in our example. It gives a clear indication of our performance against target.

Similar gauges can be maintained for individual territories and salespeople.

The upside of this way of comparing closed won revenue against target using the gauge is that it’s quick and simple to set up.

The downside is that it requires manual effort to maintain the red, amber and green settings. It also gives no information on the contribution of the pipeline to current or future sales targets.

Here is more information on the 3 Ways To Measure Sales Versus Target In Salesforce.

10. Stage Movement for Closed Won deals

This dashboard chart gives valuable insight into how our deals arrive at the Closed Won opportunity Stage.

It shows the ‘From’ and ‘To’ opportunity Stage movement. In this case, the ‘To’ is filtered to include only the Closed Won stageThe stage movement report shows how opportunities have arrived at the closed won opportunity stage.

The chart shows that 5 opportunities moved directly from Prospecting to Closed Won. 11 deals moved from Negotiation to Closed Won. 3 even went from Closed Lost to Closed Won!

The first value, the one with no ‘From’ Stage, means that 3 deals were introduced into salesforce and went directly to the Closed Won Stage.

What can we infer from these numbers?

A disproportionate number of deals jumping from early Stages to Closed Won may mean that salespeople are not maintaining the accuracy of their pipeline opportunities.

It may also mean that deals are being deliberately held back until the salesperson is confident of a successful outcome. Sandbagging, in other words. This means sales managers are missing out on pipeline visibility.

Either way, the dashboard chart is giving us useful insight into the transition of opportunities into Closed Won revenue. Further analysis, at the territory or salesperson level may identify specific trends that will help to boost sales revenue and pipeline visibility in the future.

The past is the past. But students of history know there’s much that can be learned from the past. Start studying your closed won deals today to increase sales tomorrow!

Get the free pipeline management dashboard

Coming soon – a fully configured FREE dashboard that gives tremendous visibility of the sales pipeline and sales performance.

You will shortly be able to download and install this dashboard into your very own salesforce environment from the AppExchange. Then modify or customize the filters and conditional highlighting as you see fit.

The dashboard will be free. Register here for advanced notification of its availability.

Related Blog Posts

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Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

Recent research by GSP with one of our customers showed a 65% difference in the average closed won opportunity size.

That’s a huge variation.

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

So the variation represents a potential weakness in the sales process of some salespeople. And that’s a major opportunity.

So here’s a summary of the investigation.

Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

The first step was to create an Average Closed Won Opportunity Size report.

Tip: To do this, start by creating a matrix report. Assign Opportunity Owner to the left column. Place Close Date (grouped by month or quarter) across the top. Then add the Amount field to the main body, summarized by Average.

To register for a free dashboard that includes the Average Closed Won Opportunity Size report complete the form at the foot of this blog post.

Here’s what the resulting salesforce dashboard chart looks like.

This dashboard chart shows average size of closed won opportunities in salesforce.

And here’s the underlying report.

This salesforce report shows the average size of closed won deals.

The report shows that Dave’s average closed won deal size is $58K. This compares to $35K for John. That’s a 65% difference.

Average Closed Won Opportunity Size Compared to Total Sales

Let’s put some context on the figures. A large average deal size is no good if total sales are low.

Here’s the comparison.

Closed won opportunity revenue per salesperson.

Now we can see that Dave not only has the highest average closed won opportunity size. He’s also the top sales person. To find out the full story on this, read the blog Dave Apthorp: The Best and the Worst Salesperson.

John is the lowest performing salesperson and has the lowest average closed won opportunity size.

The overall sales performance of Sarah and Shaun is roughly in line with average deal size.

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Average Number of Products per Opportunity

We spoke to the team manager, Colin Parish. Colin speculated that the average closed won opportunity size is closely correlated with the number of products sold on each opportunity.

In particular, Colin believed that the high performers sold more optional products.

Let’s see if he’s right.

The chart shows the proportion of the average opportunity size in terms of Core and Optional products.

Salesforce dashboard chart that shows the contribution of optional products to the average closed won opportunity size.

The split between Core and Optional is made using a custom field with these picklist values on the Product.

We can see that a significant proportion (over 35%) of Dave’s average deal size is made up of Optional products. In other words, Dave is doing a great job of adding ancillary products and services to his opportunities. That’s boosting his average closed won opportunity size.

Sarah is ranked third in terms of average closed won opportunity size and second in overall sales. Yet we can see the small contribution – less than 5% – that optional products make to her deals. Coaching Sarah in this area is likely to produce a direct increase in deal size and revenue.

“Sarah has one key challenge – she needs to add more optional products to her opportunities. She’s spending two days with Dave Apthorp, learning from his expertise.”

The chart is less conclusive for John and Shaun. They have some way to go to achieve the same ratio as Dave. But perhaps there are other factors also at play? Let’s examine that in a moment.

One final point on adding optional products before we move on.

Many salespeople find it difficult using the standard user interface in salesforce to find the right products to add to opportunities. It’s a common problem. Take a look at the product selection wizard to make it easy to identify and add products to opportunities.

Price Discount Impact on Average Opportunity Size

John sure is the leader on one dashboard chart. He gives away a higher proportion of revenue in discounts than anyone else!

salesforce dashboard chart that shows the amount of discount given away by each sales rep.

Dave and Sarah give away the least amount of discount in percentage terms. If Sarah can up her game in terms of the number of optional products per opportunity she’ll be at Dave’s level of sales performance.

Shaun and John can improve in terms of both optional products and discount giveaways. Colin is spending time with both, coaching and supporting them to improve their overall sales performance.

One final thing on price discounts. We recently interviewed pricing expert Tony Hodgson. for ideas on how to avoid giving away excessive margin through discounts.

“Most companies can increase profit by between 2 and 4 percent by doing nothing other than getting a grip on price discounts.” Tony Hodgson, Pricing Solutions.

Here are the 10 tips for controlling price discounts that Tony gave us. Colin is already implementing most of them!

Lessons learned

Here are the five lessons Colin says he has learned from looking at average closed won opportunity size.

How many can be applied to your business?

  1. Average closed won opportunity size is an essential sales metric that gives powerful insight.
  2. The metric can’t be used in isolation. Other reports add meaning to the figures.
  3. Tagging products Core and Optional is a really useful way of understanding how effective sales people are at up-selling.
  4. It’s important to measure price discount giveaways. The 10 pricing tips is a great resource for managing discount amounts.
  5. Have a range of sales metrics about closed won opportunity size gives managers the essential information they need. With these metrics, rep-specific coaching, training and support interventions can be made.

When all is said and done, there are only three ways to increase sales revenue. Increase the size of the pipeline, improve opportunity conversion rates, and increase average closed won opportunity size.

Go out and boost your revenue 🙂

Complete the form below to obtain a FREE SALESFORCE DASHBOARD that includes the opportunity conversion rates shown in this blog post.

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How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

How well do you know the opportunity conversion rates in your sales team?

Because when all is said and done, there are only 3 ways to increase sales.

  1. Grow the pipeline.
  2. Increase average deal size.
  3. Increase the opportunity conversion rate.

They’re all important.

“In most businesses, a small improvement in the opportunity conversion rate will yield a disproportionate increase in sales revenue.”

Measuring opportunity conversion rates (or win rates, if you prefer) helps identify ways to increase sales. And that’s a good thing.

Like many other salesforce dashboard charts, the opportunity conversion rate graph doesn’t give you the answer.

Rather, it tells you what questions to ask.

But be careful.

An over-emphasis on opportunity conversion rates can actually reduce your salesforce benefits. And that’s a bad thing.

So, here’s the right way to measure opportunity conversion rates in salesforce.com and here’s how to use those reports.

(Before we get started, here’s the dashboard chart that shows whether your pipeline is growing. We’ll cover average deal size next week.  If you haven’t already done so, register for updates here).

How to measure opportunity conversion in salesforce

Let’s take an example from one of our customers (the sales reps names have been modified). It shows how to report on the opportunity conversion rate.

Opportunity conversion rate dashboard chart in salesforce.

The dashboard chart shows the conversion rate in two ways.

  • Won % (Count). This is the percentage conversion rate in terms of the number of opportunities.
  • Won % (Amount). This is the percentage conversion rate in terms of the total value of opportunities.

Here’s the key thing about the chart. It shows the percentage won as a proportion of the total opportunities closed in each month (i.e. won and lost). It doesn’t calculate the proportion of deals won as a percentage of the total open pipeline. Doing the latter produces double-counting and incorrect metrics.

The chart shows that in three months – July, August and October – the conversion rate by Amount was higher than the rate by Count.

That’s probably a good thing. It implies that a greater proportion of high value opportunities are being successfully closed compared to lower value opportunities.

In September the trend is reversed. It appears more low value opportunities were closed successfully. That’s something we’ll want to investigate.

The overall opportunity conversion rates are around 35% in this company. Two months – July and October – exceed 40%. That’s quite high. Is it a good thing? Perhaps. Let’s investigate further.

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Opportunity conversion rate salesforce report

Here’s the underlying report for the chart.

Opportunity conversion rate report in salesforce.

In addition to the Won % (Count) and Won % (Amount), the report shows:

  • Sum of Amount. The total value of Won and Lost deals in the month.
  • Sum of Amount Won. The value of Won deals in the month.

These metrics are useful because they put the opportunity conversion rates into context.

For example, Shaun Yates has a 100 percent opportunity conversion rate for October. On the other hand, the Amount Won is only £5,000 – that’s small compared to the total value won by other salespeople in the month.

How to interpret the opportunity conversion report

Like any other salesforce report, we need to know how to use it. Here are 5 insights we can gain from the report above. Don’t forget, we need to validate each insight through further reports and investigation.

  1. Dave Apthorp focuses on higher value deals. Dave’s Won % (Amount) is consistently higher than the Won % (Count). Actually a previous blog post tells us why that is. Dave featured in the post, The Best and the Worst Salesperson on the salesforce dashboard. It turns out Dave puts all of his eggs in the two or three biggest deals each quarter and virtually ignores all the rest.
  2. John Davies has the lowest opportunity conversion rates.On the face of it, John will benefit from coaching that will improve his win rates. But we need to check that there isn’t more to it than just that. Is John focused more on new rather than existing customers? Is he operating in a new market? Or is he converting Leads into Opportunities much earlier than other salespeople and then qualifying them out at an early stage?
  3. Sarah Watson focuses on lower value deals. Sarah’s opportunity conversion rate is much better in terms of Count than Amount. Potentially she needs guidance on her approach to opportunity prioritization. Or she needs coaching and more experience in handling larger deals.
  4. Shaun Yates has consistently the highest opportunity conversion rates. Does this mean Shaun is a superstar salesperson? Perhaps. But his full-year conversion rate of 55% is suspiciously high. Potentially Shaun is keeping opportunities out of the pipeline until he’s confident that a deal is on the cards. Reviewing the time in stage velocity metrics will help determine this.

Gotchas to watch out for with opportunity conversion

Analyzing opportunity conversion rates is an effective way of identifying the actions that are needed to increase sales performance.

 

“Take care to use other reports and metrics to validate the insights you gain. Be sure you are not stimulating adverse behavior.”

  • Sandbagging. Are sales people deliberately keeping promising deals out of the sales pipeline? Do some deals only get introduced to the pipeline when the salesperson is confident an opportunity will be won? We already suspect Shaun of sandbagging. The impact is to boost opportunity conversion rates. But it also means managers lack full visibility of the sales pipeline and sales performance.
  • Pipeline over-inflation. This is the opposite of sandbagging. Deals that are well past their sell-by date never get closed. There are many reasons why deals do not get closed out of the sales pipeline. Over optimism that a deal, one day, will be done. Repercussions when deals are closed out. And even an over-reliance by the management team on opportunity conversion metrics.

Avoid these issues by using opportunity conversion rates in conjunction with other measures. For example, track average deal size, deal quality metrics and sales velocity measures.

Use opportunity conversion to increase sales revenue

So let’s say we’ve done our investigation. We’re happy with the numbers.

Here are seven ways that opportunity conversion rates can be used to boost sales revenue.

  1. Opportunity qualification. Low conversion rates are not necessarily a bad thing. As Bud Suse points out, there’s no point expending a lot of time and effort on a deal only to come a close second. Far better to create opportunities at an early stage whilst you investigate them. Then qualify-out those where you have a low chance of winning.
  2. Share and learn. Identify the salespeople with high opportunity conversion rates and share and learn from their experience and expertise across the team.
  3. Teach. Train and coach individual reps on how to improve their opportunity conversion rates.
  4. Territory analysis. Compare conversion rates across territories. Identify the systemic lessons that can be shared across regions and territories.
  5. Customer types. Optimize sales revenue by adjusting the balance of effort between new and existing customers.
  6. Value proposition. Test the impact of different marketing campaigns and go-to-market strategies.
  7. Funnel leakage. Use conversion rates in conjunction with Leaking Funnel reports to understand how and why deals are being lost from the sales pipeline.

Opportunity conversion rate is a powerful sales metric. Use it (just don’t abuse it) to increase sales revenue in your business today.

Complete the form below to obtain a FREE SALESFORCE DASHBOARD that includes the opportunity conversion rates shown in this blog post.

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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.

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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.

 

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7 Questions About Salesforce Opportunities That Everyone’s Asking

7 Questions About Salesforce Opportunities That Everyone’s Asking

Ever had a question about salesforce opportunities or the Sales Cloud but were afraid to ask?

Looking for best practice advice on using opportunities?

You’ve come to the right place. Here are 7 answers to the most common questions about salesforce opportunities.

And if we haven’t covered your burning question? No problem. Fill in the form at the end of this post and we’ll send you the answer.

1. Converting Leads to Opportunities

When should a Lead be converted to an Opportunity?

Salesforce doesn’t prescribe when a Lead should be converted to an Opportunity. The answer is to convert when it makes sense to do so in your business.

For example, let’s say you have a telemarketing team focused on generating opportunities for field sales. Some of our clients transfer the lead to the field sales person. It’s the latter that converts the lead to the opportunity after the initial meeting.

With others, the telemarketing person converts the lead and assigns the opportunity to the sales person.

Its horses for courses. Although in my experience one benefit of having the telesales person do it is that the opportunity is more likely to be linked to the originating campaign.

Read a full blog post on the difference between Leads and Opportunities including sample process diagrams that you can download.

2. Building your sales process into salesforce opportunities

How do I build my sales process into salesforce opportunities?

Firstly, match the opportunity stage values with your sales process. That’s probably not going to happen unless you change the default opportunity stage picklist values that come with salesforce.

Secondly, to improve reporting avoid milestone based opportunity stages. Each stage should relate to a period of time. For example, Customer Evaluating is better than Proposal Sent. Sending a proposal is one – but not the only – activity you would expect for an opportunity at this stage.

Here’s a sample set of opportunity stages that many of our B2B customers use:

Prospecting (or Qualifying)
Investigation (or Discovery)
Customer Evaluating
Negotiation
Closed Won
Closed Lost
No Purchase
Qualified Out

Bear in mind there may be more than one sales process in your business. The process associated with transactional products, consumables or service contract renewals may be shorter and require a different set of opportunity stages.

Read this blog post for more advice on setting opportunity stages that match your sales process.

3. Highlight doubtful deals in the sales pipeline

How can I use salesforce to highlight doubtful deals?

Just when you thought you were going to be above target this month, a bunch of opportunities slip to the next month. If that’s ever happened to you then you’re not alone.

Deals do slip. It happens all the time. Unfortunately that’s in direct contrast to the sales manager’s desire for a robust pipeline and confidence in this month’s sales forecast.

But here’s what you can do. Use two opportunity quality metrics to highlight deals that have an above average chance of slipping.

  • Number of Close Date changes. Specifically the number of times the opportunity has already slipped from one month to the next. Experience shows it’s these opportunities that have a higher-than-average probability of slipping again.
  • Days since last Stage Change. If the number of days since the last stage change is well above average then it often highlights a deal that is not being actively managed.

These metrics measure the quality of opportunities in the sales pipeline.

In both of these cases the sales manager should work with the opportunity owner to decide on the best course of action. Can the deal be revitalised? Shall we bite the bullet and close-out the opportunity? Can a more realistic close date be established?

Read this blog post about using opportunity metrics to manage your sales pipeline quality.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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4. Make it easier to add Products to Opportunities

Can we make it easier to add Products to Opportunities?

Adding Products to opportunities has many benefits.

It produces more accurate opportunity values. This makes your pipeline and sales forecast more accurate. It provides information on the pipeline at product level. And it opens the door to a raft of ways to streamline the end to end sales and fulfilment process.

There’s only one drawback.

If you have a lot of products then the user interface is not particularly helpful. In fact it’s quite hard to find the right products at times.

There are two ways to solve this. Option 1 is to use a CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) application. Here’s a link to those applications on the AppExchange.

Option 2 is to use our Product Wizard and / or the Product Bundle Wizard.

Product selection wizard to make it easier to add products to salesforce opportunities.

Read this blog post to find out more about product selection wizards including a short video.

5. Track Opportunity Stakeholders in the buying center

What’s the best way to track Opportunity Stakeholders?

There’s nearly always more than one person involved in a B2B buying center. Gatekeepers, business users, influencers, technical evaluators, executive sponsors, budget holders and project managers. They can all be playing a role.

And they can all make or break your deal.

So how do you keep track of all them all?

Use Contact Roles to relate multiple people to an opportunity.

Many companies use modified contact role picklist values on salesforce opportunities.

These Contacts can even be from other companies – external consultants or advisors, for example.

Read this blog post for advice on using Contact Roles.

6. Calculate sales commission using salesforce

Is it possible to calculate sales commission using salesforce?

If you calculate and display commission in salesforce then you’ve got a built-in sales incentive tool.

The trouble is commission calculation is rarely straightforward. It often includes short term kickers and long term commission bandings. In other words, the commission percentage on a deal increases as total sales in the month or quarter increase.

There’s two ways to calculate and track commission in salesforce.

The custom solution works well if you don’t have an excessively complicated commission structure.

Commission tracking on salesforce opportunities.

Read this blog post to learn about the commission management solution many of our clients have implemented.

7. Measure the trend in the size of the sales pipeline

How do I measure the trend in the size of the sales pipeline?

Any sales manager needs to know whether the total sales pipeline is getting bigger or smaller.

Salesforce has two standard reports to help you measure the trend in pipeline size.

The first is the As-At report. It measures the pipeline on the first day of each month. It’s an excellent report to show the long term trend in pipeline size.

Measure the long term pipeline trend in salesforce opportunities.

The second is more short term focussed. It’s the Historical Trending report.

Dashboard chart showing short term trend in salesforce opportunities.

The report can be built to show the size of the pipeline over the last 4 weeks or other timescales. It’s a good report if you want to understand the impact of recent marketing and business development effort.

Read this blog post two pipeline trend reports.

Any other questions?

Do you have a question about salesforce opportunities? Fill in our contact us page and we’ll send you the answer!

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