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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.

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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.

7 Lead Conversion Metrics You Should Be Tracking (But Probably Aren’t)

7 Lead Conversion Metrics You Should Be Tracking (But Probably Aren’t)

Your business puts a lot of effort into generating converted Leads.

However, are they worth their salt?

Do the leads passed from Marketing to Sales contribute revenue?

In most businesses, it is only possible to answer these questions using anecdotal evidence.

Indeed, very often I find businesses are poor at tracking lead conversion metrics. They know how many leads convert to opportunities, but that’s pretty much it.

Unfortunately, this means they are unable to figure out how to optimize revenue from converted leads. They don’t know what is working and what is not.

This also means they do not realize when marketing and sales time waste time on non-productive leads.

However, to do this you need to monitor more than simply the number of converted leads.

Fortunately, lead conversion metrics are easy to implement.

I’ll show you seven lead conversion metrics your business should be tracking today.

At the end of this blog post I’ve included step by step instructions on how to create the underlying indicator that allows you to track these lead conversion metrics.

One final thing before we move on. These metrics assume you have a solid lead conversion process in place. This includes a hand-off process from marketing to sales that ensures leads do not fall between the cracks. Use this blog post for advice on implementing a robust lead conversion process.

Update: Join me for a compelling webinar on November 1, 2017 on Lead Conversion Success.

What is a Converted Lead?

Let us be clear what we are talking about here.

Lead conversion occurs when one person (often in Marketing) ‘converts’ an existing lead into an Account, Contact and Opportunity. The Opportunity passes to the sales team to begin the sales process. This defines a converted lead.

Diagram summarizing lead conversion process. This process is the basis for creating the lead conversion metrics.Opportunities for new customers are usually created from a converted lead.

For example, a potential customer downloads an eBook. The prospect receives emails over time providing educational material and the relationship deepens.

The person eventually receives a qualification call. If the lead is ‘qualified’ then an opportunity is created and passed to a salesperson.

Contrast this with opportunities for existing customers. In these cases, the salesperson creates an Opportunity directly on the Account record.Diagram summarizing the process for creating an opportunity directly on an Account.No lead is involved. The opportunity is linked to an existing customer or prospect Account.

Lead Conversion Metrics

Here are the seven lead conversion metrics I recommend.

1 – Contribution of Converted Leads

2 – Win Rates of Converted Leads

3 – Average Deal Size of Converted Leads

4 – Win Rates by Opportunity Owner

5 – Win Rates by Lead Owner

6 – Win Rates by Lead Source

7 – Win Rates by Campaign

Let us examine each lead conversion metric to understand how it contributes to increased revenue.

 

1 – Revenue Contribution of Converted Leads

This metric quantifies the contribution of converted leads. It shows the overall contribution of converted leads to total revenue.

Lead conversion metric #1 - contribution of converted leads to revenue.

The green column in the dashboard chart shows the $ revenue contribution of opportunities derived from converted leads.

The blue column is the revenue from opportunities created directly on existing Accounts.

Looking at the underlying report, we can see that overall, converted leads contribute 33% of revenue.

Here’s the key thing about this lead conversion report and chart.

It gives you context for the other lead conversion metrics that follow.

For example, whether the figure of 33% is good or bad depends upon the context of your business. If you are a new, start-up company, you might expect the contribution from converted leads to be higher.

In a well-established, mature company, the figure may be lower if a significant proportion of revenue comes from repeat business with existing customers.

Remember, you can adjust the report to analyse the numbers further. For example, there may be significant variations by geographical territory or industry.

Use the report and dashboard chart to identify a ratio that doesn’t ‘look right’ within the context of your business. Then review the seven lead conversion metrics to investigate further.

 

2 – Win Rates of Converted Leads versus Not Converted

In this first lead conversion metric, we’re comparing the win rate of opportunities that came from converted leads versus those opportunities created on existing Accounts.

Remember, a converted lead will result in a new Account.

An existing customer, and some prospects, will already exist as Accounts.

In this case, we are comparing opportunities that started life as a lead, with those opportunities that the salesperson linked to an existing customer or prospect.

The win rate defines the ratio of won versus lost deals in a given period.

Lead conversion metric #2 - win rates on converted leads and direct opportunities.

In fact, we have two lead conversion metrics here.

  • Win Rate by Count. This compares the number of deals won and lost.
  • Win Rate by Amount. This compares the value of deals won and lost.

In our example, we can see that the win rates for converted leads is lower that the win rate for direct opportunities.

The chart also shows that for converted leads, the win rate by Amount is higher than the win rate by Count. This means a successful outcome on higher value deals is achieved more often compared to lower value deals.

The situation for opportunities not created from converted leads reverses.

A greater proportion of lower value deals are successfully won. We can see this because the win rate by Count is greater than the win rate by Amount.

In many ways, we might expect this.

Converted leads will usually relate to new customers. It’s reasonable to expect the win rate for new customers to be lower than the win rate for existing customers.

Similarly, many deals with existing customers may be for add-ons, repeat purchases or other regular orders that may have a lower value than first-time opportunities.

Think about these numbers in the context of your business.

Does a low win rate on opportunities from converted leads indicate that leads are not being properly qualified? Alternatively, are salespeople focusing too much on existing customers, where we naturally expect the win rate to be higher?

 

3 – Average Deal Size of Converted Leads

This lead conversion metric compares the average size of deals that came from converted leads with opportunities created directly on the Account.

In many businesses, it may be reasonable to expect the average deal size of opportunities from converted leads to be higher. This is because a significant proportion of opportunities on existing Accounts are smaller, repeat business deals.

Lead conversion metric #3 - average deal size on converted leads.

In other businesses, the reverse may be true. For example, if your approach is ‘land-and-expand’, then new customer deals may be smaller, or even trials and prototypes.

Again, interpret the numbers in the context of your business. If appropriate, customize the report to examine this lead conversion metric by sales team, geography or other variable.

 

4 – Win Rate by Opportunity Owner

The lead conversion metric compares the win rate for different salespeople.

In our example, it shows that Geoff has a significantly higher win rate on converted leads compared to Lars.

Lead conversion metric #4 - win rates by opportunity owner.

Indeed, Geoff is successfully winning a greater proportion of opportunities that arose from converted leads (green bar) compared to opportunities created directly on the Account (blue bar).

There may be many reasons for this.

For example:

  • Does Geoff follow up more proactively on converted leads?
  • Does Geoff get fewer leads, but of much higher quality?
  • Is Geoff paying insufficient attention to existing customers?

Like other lead conversion metrics, the figures do not tell us what management action to take.  Rather, they tell us there is a variation in performance that is worthy of investigation.

It’s the outcome of that investigation that enables us to decide the right action.

Use this blog post for more advice on measuring sales team win rates.

 

5 – Win Rate by Lead Owner

The previous lead conversion metrics shows the win rate for converted lead and direct opportunities by opportunity owner.

Let us look now from a different perspective.

Many businesses have an inside sales team or other person responsible for making qualification calls to leads.

These people aim to create meetings for the sales rep, whether internally or field based.

Therefore, we need to understand how effective different inside sales reps are at creating good quality opportunities.

The lead conversion metric examines performance by lead owner.

Lead conversion metric #4 - win rates by lead owner.

A point to note. The win rate by Lead Owner metric shows the opportunity win rate based on Lead Owner at the time of conversion. This is not necessarily the person that converted the lead. However, we are assuming for the purposes of this lead conversion metric that the lead ‘owner’ and ‘converter’ are the same person.

In our example, we can see that a significantly higher proportion of the converted leads owned by Nick have a successful outcome to those owned by Tim.

Does this mean Nick is doing a better job of warming-up these leads as part of the qualification process? Is Tim converting too many, low quality leads? Alternatively, can Nick help to increase sales by lowering his ‘qualification threshold’ and increasing the number of leads he converts?

Again, we do not explicitly know the answer. However, we do now know the questions to ask.

 

6 – Win Rate by Lead Source

Assessing win rates by Lead Source and Campaign (next chart) are two further lead conversion metrics to determine the efficacy of converted Leads.

A quick recap on Lead Source.

Lead Source is a standard picklist field on the Lead. It records the originating source or channel of the Lead.

For example, typical Lead Source picklist values are Web, Trade Show, Purchased List, Phone Enquiry and so on.

When a lead is converted, the Lead Source carries through to the equivalent field on the opportunity. This means we can analyse opportunity outcome by lead source.

Lead conversion metric #6 - win rates by lead source.

Remember, the chart and report are not showing the number of leads created by lead source. Rather, they show the outcome of opportunities from converted leads by each lead source.

In our example, some Leads Sources perform better. For example, phone and web enquiries have a significantly higher opportunity win rate compared to other lead sources.

All other things being equal, it will be worth our while working to increase the number of converted leads from these sources, compared to other lead sources.

 

7 – Converted Leads by Campaign

The previous lead conversion metric (win rate by Lead Source) tracks the outcome of converted leads by broad category.

We can get another perspective by measuring the outcome of converted leads by Campaign.

This lead conversion metric provides valuable insight into the value for money of different campaigns.

Lead conversion metric #7 - win rates by marketing campaign.

In our example, leads from the Tech Meeting perform significantly higher than other Campaigns. All other things being equal, running more of these campaigns is a worthwhile investment in time and money.

For help on using Campaigns review this blog, The Best Advice You Can Get on Salesforce Campaigns.

 

Conclusions

Assessing any aspect of sales and marketing performance means coming at the situation from multiple angles.

Understanding the contribution of converted leads is no exception.

The lead conversion metrics this blog post describes give you the tools to do that.

Start by quantifying the overall contribution of converted leads to overall revenue. That gives you a starting point and context.

Then review each lead conversion metric. Ask underlying questions about each. Interpret the metrics.

And use the answers to increase revenue.

 

How to create the Lead Conversion Metrics

To create any of the reports and dashboard charts in this blog post, you first need to distinguish between opportunities created from converted leads and those created directly on an Account.

This is easy to do. Here are the step-by-step instructions.

1. On the Lead object, create a picklist field called Converted Lead.

Give this field two picklist values, Yes and No.

Here’s the important thing.

On this field, make Yes the default value. This means that when a new lead is created, it automatically inherits the value Yes in this field.

 

2. Create the equivalent field on the Opportunity object.

Again, give the picklist values of Yes and No.

However, this time set No as the default picklist value. This means that when an opportunity is created directly on an Account, it will inherit the value No.

You can see that in our example, we also clicked the Chart Colours button.

This means we can pre-define the colors that will appear in our dashboard and report charts. In our example, we chose Green for Yes and Blue for No.

 

3. Map the Lead and Opportunity fields.

Now we need to map the fields from Leads to Opportunities.

Go back to the setup area for Leads.

Scroll down and click on the Map Lead Fields button. Then click on the Opportunities tab.

This page allows you to map the two fields you have just created. Link the Converted Lead field on the lead to the Converted Lead field on the opportunity.

This means that when a lead is converted, the value in the lead for this field automatically passes to the mapped field on the opportunity.

In other words, the result is an opportunity created from a converted lead has the value Yes.

Alternatively, if the opportunity is created directly on the Account, it has the value No.

Bingo!

 

4. One final step – update existing records.

The Converted Lead field will be blank for all existing lead records. In other words, the process will only work for new leads created this point forward.

However, you can fix this by setting the value to Yes for all existing leads.

Do this using the Apex Data Loader or a Lead List View.

From this point forward, all opportunities created from converted leads will have the value Yes in the opportunity field.

That’s how to identify the relevant opportunities that will appear in your reports.

If you need a free 30 minute web consultation with us to help set up the fields or the corresponding reports, no problem. Simply use this form to get in touch and we’ll give you a hand!

Is Your Sales Funnel Big Enough to Reach Your Revenue Target?

Is Your Sales Funnel Big Enough to Reach Your Revenue Target?

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.

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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

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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

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

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

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

There’s no doubt about it.

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

Yet many sales managers are frustrated.

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

But that problem can be fixed.

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

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

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

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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1) Closed Won Opportunities by Month


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

2) Pipeline Deals by Close Date and Opportunity Stage


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

3) Sales Funnel Chart


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

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

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

So why bother with it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

More blog posts related to the sales funnel dashboard chart:

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

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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

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

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

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

Many result in multiple payments over time.

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

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

Here’s what happens if you do this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recurring opportunities with software as a service

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

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

Sidetrade doesn’t need recurring opportunities.

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

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

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

Recurring opportunities with insurance premiums

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

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

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

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

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

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

Download the FREE eBook today from our website

Recurring opportunities with service contracts

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

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

The customer pays an annual fee for the support.

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

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

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

Recurring opportunities with Proof of Concepts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Framework agreements in salesforce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Points to consider when you need recurring opportunities

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

Points to consider when you don’t need recurring opportunities

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

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

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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How to Increase Your Revenue by Measuring Sales Velocity

How to Increase Your Revenue by Measuring Sales Velocity

The quicker your sales velocity the more you sell.

At least that’s the theory.

But experience with one of our customers shows this isn’t necessarily the case.

In fact, slowing down during the investigation and discovery stages decreases the overall sales cycle velocity BUT increases win rates.

And that results in increased revenue.

There’s also a great deal more insight on how to manage the sales team by analysing how long opportunities spend in each stage of the sales cycle.

So read about Modernis’ experience in using sales velocity charts and reports in salesforce to discover the full story.

Measure overall sales team velocity

Take a look at the sales velocity chart below. It’s taken directly from the dashboard of one of our customers, Modernis.

Salesforce dashboard chart comparing sales cycle velocity for closed won versus lost opportunities.

The chart shows the average duration of the sales cycle in days.  It compares the time spent at each stage in the sales cycle for Closed Won deals versus Closed Lost opportunities.

Closed Lost opportunities have a shorter sales cycle than Closed Won. This is good news. It means that in Modernis, non-viable opportunities are being qualified-out at relatively early stages in the sales cycle.

In other sales teams we often see the reverse.

In these cases, the sales cycle for Closed Lost deals is significantly longer than Closed Won. But these sales pipelines often contain a disproportionate number of lame duck deals. There are drifting opportunities in the funnel that have long over-stayed their welcome. It’s easy to spot these deals by counting the Number of Close Date changes.

Take another look at the chart or examine the underlying report below. The report shows the Average Time in days for each Stage.

salesforce report comparing sales cycle for opportunities

In Modernis the length of time spent on Investigation is significantly different between Closed Won and Closed Deals.

This is deliberate. Time spent uncovering the prospects needs and buying process is viewed as time well spent. It enables the information to be gathered that allows a tailored proposal to be created. Like the hare and the tortoise, quicker is not necessarily better in Modernis.

Individual sales person velocity

But let’s see what else we can learn. Let’s study the sales velocity for selected members of the sales team (the names of the Modernis sales people have been changed in the interests of confidentiality).

Compare the velocity of opportunities owned by different sales people.

The chart shows there’s significant variation in both the length of the sales cycle and the average time spent in each stage.

Dave Apthorp’s sales velocity

Dave Apthorp is the leading sales person in Modernis. He has been for several years. It’s not the first time he’s featured in one of our blogs – The True Story of the Best and the Worst Sales Person on the Dashboard – demonstrates the importance of using more than one metric to assess sales performance.

But let’s look here at the length of Dave’s sales cycle by stage.

salesforce dashboard chart comparing sales cycle speed for dave apthorp.

Dave Apthorp has the shortest sales cycle. But he has the longest Investigation period – by some distance.

In other words, it Dave is taking more time than any other sales person to understand fully the customer’s needs. This means he can tailor and customise his proposal to align it with the customers’ expectations. And that goes a long way to explain why he has the shortest Proposal and Negotiation stages. Customers see the value in what he is proposing.

Here’s what Dave himself said when we showed him the sales velocity chart. “There are only two secrets to selling. One, qualify your deals. And two – get any objections out and on the table early. It doesn’t mean you have to answer the objection there and then. But get them into the open early so you can work out how to answer them in your proposal.”

And that in my view is the secret to improving win rates, reducing the sales cycle and successfully concluding deals. Ask open ended questions to fully uncover the customers’ issues. And then tailor your proposal accordingly.

So let’s look at what else we can learn by looking at the sales velocity of selected other reps.

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Shaun Yates’ sales velocity

Shaun is the second highest revenue producer in Modernis over the last 12 months. He’s also got the slowest sales velocity.

Shaun Yates sales cycle

Shaun’s deals spend a lot of time in the Prospecting Stage. The Investigation Stage is comparatively short, at least compared to Dave’s.

However, we dug into some of Shaun’s opportunities. We found the level of information he was gathering during Prospecting was far in excess of the other sales people. In other words, he’s effectively doing the Investigation.

When we discussed this with Shaun we made an interesting discovery. His interpretation of what constitutes a qualified opportunity – the difference between the Prospecting and Investigation Stages – was different to everyone else’s.

In fact when you combine Prospecting and Investigation, Shaun is spending nearly as much time as Dave on understanding the customers’ needs, issues and buying process. And now that we’ve clarified the terminology, Shaun is moving his deals into the Investigation Stage earlier in the sales cycle.

Shaun also has the longest Negotiation stage. Shaun and his manager, Jim Peters, think this is because Shaun is relatively inexperienced at closing deals. He’s hesitant to ask for the sale. So Jim has arranged for Shaun to accompany Dave on several sales meetings and has lined up some external training.

So that’s two further benefits of measuring sales velocity. Iron out variations in the understanding of terminology that may be distorting management visibility of the sales pipeline. And identify training needs that will help sales people increase their revenue performance.

John Davies’ sales velocity

John is the third ranked performer on the Modernis team in terms of overall sales volume. His conversion rate is also the lowest – he wins a lower percentage of his opportunities than anyone else.

Let’s look at the average time his deals spend in each stage of the sales cycle.

john Davies sales cycle

Opportunities owned by John and Shaun spend a similar amount of time in the Prospecting Stage. However unlike Shaun, John is quite slow to respond to new Opportunities. We know this from the Activities charts on the sales dashboard.

Is John spending enough time on Investigation? Certainly it’s less than Dave and Shaun (if you include Shaun’s Prospecting stage).

But look at his Negotiation stage. It’s significantly longer than Shaun and Dave.

In addition to having the lowest conversion rate, John’s opportunities experience the greatest number of Close Date changes.

salesforce dashboard chart comparing the number of Close Date changes on opportunities

This shows that not only is John slow to qualify new opportunities, he’s not doing a great job of it. In other words, his deals consistently move from one month to the next. That means he’s expending significant amounts of time and energy on deals that are in the later stages of the sales cycle. And many of these deals fail to close successfully.

To improve John’s velocity and revenue, Jim Peters has arranged one-to-one coaching to help John improve his qualification process. Jim is also tracking the speed with which John gets to grips with new deals – and John knows this is a metric on which he is being scrutinised.

Jim has also arranged for John to go on an open-ended questions course to improve his investigation and discovery skills. That will allow him to spend more time on Investigation and do a better job of creating a tailored proposal that genuinely meets the customer needs.

Sarah Watson’s sales velocity

Here’s an interesting one. Have a look at Sarah’s sales velocity and form a view on how her sales volume compares to the other reps.

sarah watson sales cycle

If you think that Sarah is the lowest overall sales producer then you’re absolutely right.

She’s spending minimal time on Investigation. And a huge amount of time with her deals are in the Proposal stage.

So what can we infer about the way Sarah manages her opportunities? Quite simply she needs to do a lot more work during Investigation and create a more tailored proposal to the customer.

But let’s not jump to too many conclusions too soon. She might not be spending enough time in the early stages – but is that because she feels under pressure from the management team to get the customer proposal out of the door? Is this a management rather than a sales person issue?

Jim tells us that Sarah is the newest member of the sales team although she has worked for Modernis the longest. Her previous role was a technical team leader on the implementation team. Jim is confident she has the knowledge and inter-personal skills to succeed in sales. He’s coaching her to ‘calm down’ and work smarter not faster!

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Sandbagging Might Be Ruining Your Sales Pipeline Visibility

Sandbagging Might Be Ruining Your Sales Pipeline Visibility

What a Hero!

Last day of the quarter. He’s pulled another rabbit out of the hat. Closed a big deal out of nowhere. Turned our below budget forecast into an above target winner. He’s saved our bacon.

And not for the first time. Warren the Hero.

But is he truly the hero? Or the pantomime villain? In other words, is he a sandbagger?

Recognise the behaviour but not sure what the term sandbagging means? It means “hiding the strength, skill or difficulty of something or someone early in an engagement”. The term was popularised in one-to-one games and sports such as pool, boxing  and wrestling. Lull your opponent (or your manager in this case!) by hiding your true strength then deliver the killer blow when he’s least expecting it.

Have you ever seen this in any sales teams?

For some sales people, the last thing they want on a large deal is the VP of Sales breathing down their neck. Keep it off the radar. Leave it at an early stage in the Opportunity lifecycle. Push the Close Date out a couple of months. If the deal doesn’t work out, quietly close the opportunity. Chances are no-one will notice.

And if it does work out, you’re the star!

So why is sandbagging a problem? After all, our hero has delivered the goods.

It’s a problem because managers should influence sales team behaviour based on a judgement of whether there’s enough sales funnel to achieve the revenue target.

If the sales funnel is too small, the sales team needs to focus on identifying new opportunities. If there’s enough funnel to meet the sales target, there’s more emphasis is on closing existing deals. Having an incorrect view of the pipeline as a result of sandbagging is going to drive an emphasis on one course of action; when in fact you should be taking another.

Spot sandbagging using salesforce reports

So how do you use salesforce reports and dashboards to spot sandbagging?

Here’s how.

Have a look at the salesforce report below. It shows, for the last quarter, the “From” Opportunity Stage for all deals that were set to Closed Won.

Salesforce report and dashboard chart that shows the From and To Changes in the Opportunity Stage.

We can see that in 8 cases, the Opportunity was set to Closed Won from the Negotiation Stage. Another 4 made it to Closed Won from the Proposal Made and one from the Investigation Stage.

But 3 Opportunities were set to Closed Won directly from Prospecting. You can see this in the top row of the report and the first column in the chart.

So what is this report telling us? It’s telling us we might have a problem with sandbagging.

In every business there are deals that seem to jump out of nowhere. The customer calls and says “I need to buy from you today”. It happens. But if your typical sales cycle is several months, it doesn’t happen all that often.

So the report is a starting point for identifying sandbagging. It tells us we need to investigate further. Drill down to each Opportunity to see whether it relates to a new or existing customer. Have a look at the Created Date. Examine the Stage History and Activity History. There’s probably enough information there to determine if this is a case of sandbagging, or whether the deal legitimately moved directly from the first stage to the last.

But can the report be spoofed?

If the Owner moves the Opportunity Stage from Prospecting Stage to the Negotiation Stage and then onto Closed Won, it’s not going to show up on the report. But there is a way to spot-check this.

Have a look at the screenshot below. It’s the Stage History taken from the page layout of an Opportunity that moved from Negotiation to Closed Won.

Stage History on an Opportunity to determine whether the report has been spoofed.

The Stage History shows that this Opportunity moved from Prospecting to Negotiation and then to Closed Won, all on the same day. In this case, all the space of a few minutes.

Quite possibly a sandbagger at work!

Clearly it’s not realistic to do this spot-check on every single Opportunity. But reviewing a few at random, and checking those that close toward the end of the sales period, will quickly reveal whether there are incidents of sandbagging. And the fact that sales people learn your reviewing these deals is likely to be enough to prevent it happening.

Hero’s do exist in sales teams. Lots of them.

But that doesn’t mean you have to let sandbagging ruin your sales pipeline visibility!

PS No rabbits were harmed in the creation of this blog!

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