Here is something that will inevitably your revenue forecast utterly wrong if you are using Product Schedules in salesforce.
The salesperson modifies the opportunity close date.
But then, she does not make the same date adjustment to the Product Schedule.
To be fair, it’s an easy thing to forget. And to use a technical term, it is a right pain to do.
Using standard salesforce functionality, the salesperson needs to go to each product on the opportunity. Then she needs to modify each product schedule. Individually.
It takes time. It is a distraction. And it almost never happens.
The root cause of the problem is that there’s no link between close dates and product schedules. Unfortunately, that means revenue forecasts that rely upon product schedules are nearly always wrong.
And over time, the problem gets worse. Both pipeline and won revenue reports become increasingly inaccurate.
Fortunately, it doesn’t need to be that way. The Schedule Shifter App solves the problem. It directly links the close date with product schedules.
Link Close Dates To Product Schedules
The Schedule Shifter links the close date to product schedules. This means that whenever the close date changes, the product schedules are automatically adjusted by the same number of days.
The close date can move forwards or backwards in time. The Schedule Shifter will keep the product schedules aligned with the close date. And if there’s already a delay between the close date and the start of the product schedule, then that delay will be respected when the schedules are automatically modified.
The Schedule Shifter works with both revenue and quantity product schedules. It’s particularly useful for accurate forecasts on ‘regular order’ framework agreements.
It’s simple to install. We’ll give you a link to a private listing on the AppExchange. And it’s great value at $700 per year for unlimited users. Find out more.
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.
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.
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.
More blog posts related to the Closed Won salesforce dashboard chart:
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.
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.
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.
More blog posts related to the Pipeline by Month and Stage salesforce dashboard chart:
The sales funnel chart should be on your dashboard because it’s a good graph to look at – once a week.
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.
More blog posts related to the sales funnel dashboard chart:
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.
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.
More blog posts related to the Top 10 Accounts salesforce dashboard chart:
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.
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.
More blog posts related to the Pipeline Trend salesforce dashboard charts:
Here’s a simple but effective way to assess pipeline quality. It’s the Open Opportunities by Created Date dashboard chart.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.
More blog posts related to the Opportunities by Created Date salesforce dashboard chart:
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.
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.
More blog posts related to the Pipeline Quality Metrics dashboard table:
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.
More blog posts related to the Conversion Rate salesforce dashboard chart:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More blog posts related to the Activities salesforce dashboard chart:
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.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?
More blog posts related to the Leaking Funnel salesforce dashboard chart:
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.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.
More blog posts related to the Target Gauge salesforce dashboard chart:
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.
And guess what? You don’t even have to build it yourself. Download our free GSP Sales Dashboard package from the AppExchange and you can install all 12 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.
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 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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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 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.
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.
Start on the reports tab, click new report then select an Opportunities report.
Adjust the basic filters. Set Opportunity Status to Open. Set the time Range to All Time.
Set the Format to be a Matrix report by clicking on Tabular Format.
On the left hand side chose Opportunity Stage.
Across the top of the report chose Close Date. Adjust the date format to Group By calendar month.
Pull the Amount field into the body of the report.
Click on the Show link to remove the record count. Repeat the process to set the report to Hide Details.
Run the report to check that it looks the way you expect.
Now create a chart directly in the report. Click on Add Chart in the Customize section.
Choose the vertical bar chart.
On the Y axis select the Opportunity Amount.
On the X axis select the Close Date.
In the Group by, select Opportunity Stage.
Now choose the stacked bar chart.
Click on the Formatting tab. Put the legend below the chart. Enable the hover. And put the chart below the report.
Now run the report and check your chart.
Save the report (remember, not in your Personal Folder, no-one else will be able to see it).
Click on the dashboard tab and select the dashboard to which you want to add the chart.
Click on Edit on the Dashboard.
Drag a bar chart from the left hand pane onto the dashboard.
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.
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’.
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.
Many frustrated people have looked for the Target tab in salesforce.
Don’t waste your time. It does not exist.
Yet measuring performance against sales target is a critical activity in running a sales team. Isn’t it?
Fortunately there ARE ways to measure performance against sales target in salesforce.
In fact, it goes deeper than that.
We need to know how the company, sales teams and individual reps performed historically against their sales targets. But we also need to know whether there’s enough pipeline to meet the target this month or next month or next quarter.
Without this information, you are flying blind.
That is an uncomfortable position. As the pilot, it means you cannot adjust the controls and take action to make sure the sales target will be hit.
For example, if you know there is enough pipeline to meet next month’s sales target then focus the team, first and foremost, on closing existing deals.
On the other hand, if there is insufficient pipeline you have a different challenge. You need to close the deals that do exist. But the sales team also need to find new pipeline simply to have enough to go at.
So measuring performance against both historic and future sales targets is essential. Here are the options for doing this in salesforce.
There are three ways to measure performance versus sales target in salesforce. We explain how each one works, its pros and cons and when its the best solution.
By the way, if you like Option 3 then get in touch. We have a package that is easy to implement for this.
Here are the three options. They provide salespeople and managers with different levels of information. We’ve described the options and given pointers to indicate the situation in which each is appropriate.
Option 1 – Dashboard Gauge
Use a salesforce dashboard gauge to indicate overall achievement against sales target.
The arrow indicator shows the current sales performance. Use the red, amber and green segments to set relevant break-points. For example, amber to represent 80% target achievement, green for 100% sales target achievement.
Feed the gauge using an underlying matrix or summary report. The report simply needs to summarize the value of deals won over the relevant period of time.
Pros of the gauge approach
The report and gauge are simple and easy to set up.
The gauge is easy on the eye.
It’s a quick and powerful summary of sales performance against target.
Cons of the gauge approach
It is a blunt instrument. For example, if the gauge is at the company level, there’s no visibility of individual rep or sales team performance against sales target.
The breakpoint values must be manually re-calibrated for each target period. If the target next month is different to this month, the breakpoints need to be modified.
Pipeline deals are not shown. This means we don’t know if there’s enough funnel to meet the sales target for next month. There’s nothing to tell us, for example, if 30% of pipeline deals are won whether the target will be hit.
It’s the right choice if
You need to set something up quickly.
You need a Board-level chart to summarize performance.
You only need to measure top level performance against sales target. Alternatively if you are prepared to invest the time you can set up similar gauges for individual salespeople and teams.
Sales targets are the same for each time period. Breakpoints don’t need to be modified each month or quarter. (Or remembering to re-set the red, amber and green breakpoint values on a monthly basis isn’t going to be a problem).
The dashboard gauge is a viable option for relatively straightforward target measurement. It’s a simplistic solution. On the other hand, if you need to set up a sales target reporting mechanism in the next 5 minutes then this is the option to go for.
Remember, use the gauge in conjunction with other dashboard charts and reports to gain full visibility of the sales performance and pipeline.
Option 2 – Salesforce Forecasts Tab
The Forecasts tab is a sophisticated and advanced way of tracking performance versus sales target.
View Closed Won opportunities that contribute to sales target achievement in the Forecasts tab.
Pipeline deals are also included. These opportunities are categorized to indicate how likely they are to close successfully. Managers have important information on the strength of the funnel and the extent to which sales targets will be hit.
Managers can also override the forecasts made by their direct reports. This means they can adjust the overall forecast to balance excessive optimism or pessimism of salespeople.
There is a downside. The Forecasts tab is a relatively complex piece of functionality. Training and coaching is needed to help both salespeople and managers use it to full advantage.
Pros of the Forecasts Tab
Set targets at individual, team, company and product family level.
Track performance against sales target based on opportunity category including won, committed, pipeline and best-case deals.
Allow managers to override forecasts submitted by their direct reports and modify the projected performance against target for their team.
Review forecast history to learn from forecasts submitted in the past.
Drill down from the top level forecast to examine performance against sales target at individual rep and team level.
Cons of the Forecasts Tab
The Forecasts tab is relatively complex to set up and use.
It requires detailed training for sales reps and their managers.
Salespeople must update their individual forecasts in order for the overall forecast to have meaning. This means a high level of commitment is required across the team to get the full benefits.
It’s the right choice if
You have sophisticated target measurement requirements.
Managers must be able to override the forecasts submitted by their salespeople.
The sales team is mature and already has a good level of salesforce user adoption.
The business is prepared to commit to appropriate training for salespeople and managers.
The salesforce Forecasts Tab provides robust target tracking and forecasting capabilities. However, bear in mind that successful roll-out means appropriate planning and configuration effort.
Option 3 – GSP Target Tracker
Many of our customers use the GSP Target Tracker to measure performance against sales target. We have created it as a managed package that can be easily implemented to any salesforce environment.
Much less training is needed for salespeople and managers to use the Tracker compared to the Forecasts Tab. The solution also takes away the need to manually create forecasts.
Closed won and pipeline deals are automatically linked to the relevant sales target. Targets can be measured against secured business and the anticipated revenue from funnel opportunities.
The sales targets are entered into a custom object for each sales person for each month. In the example above, we’re looking at the sales target for Michael Watson in April.
The lower portion of the screen shows the Opportunities that have been automatically linked to this target record. The Target Tracker does this by looking at the Close Date of the Opportunity and the Opportunity Owner. The Opportunity is then linked to the relevant target – in this case, Michael Watson’s target for April.
If the Close Date or the Opportunity Owner change the Opportunity is automatically unhooked and linked to the newly relevant target record.
The embedded chart on the left hand side of the page shows Michael’s target in blue, his Closed Won deals in green and the Expected Revenue of his April pipeline deals in orange. The purple bar shows that based on these numbers, Michael has a shortfall against his target.
The doughnut chart to right provides analysis of Michael’s April pipeline by Opportunity Stage. This means both Michael and his manager have clarity on the likelihood that his target will be achieved based on the pipeline deals.
Dashboard charts summarize company and team level information.
The dashboard chart shows over / under performance against monthly sales target at the company or team level.
Drill down to the underlying report to view the sales rep target. This compares the sales target with the value of Closed Won deals, Expected Revenue from the pipeline.
Pros of the GSP Target Tracker
It’s easy for sales reps use. Opportunities are automatically linked to relevant targets.
Highly visual information on performance against target is provided.
Extensive drill down capability from company level performance to sales team and individual rep.
Assess the quality of the pipeline and its potential contribution to target achievement.
Easy to set up (implemented through a managed package).
Cons of the GSP Target Tracker
A (very reasonable!) license fee is payable.
It’s the right choice if
You need a powerful solution that is easier to use than the Forecasts tab.
So the term ‘Closed Lost’ is not going to be a favorite for your average salesperson.
Yet Closed Lost is the standard Opportunity Stage picklist value for removing a deal from the pipeline. And it’s a picklist value that salespeople hate to use.
Impact of not setting deals to Closed Lost
But here’s the problem.
Failing to set dead wood opportunities to Closed Lost has a number of adverse consequences:
Over-inflation of the sales funnel. Managers and salespeople do not have a robust view of the strength (or weakness) of the sales pipeline.
Incorrect sales performance reports. Effective management of the sales team depends upon having accurate information e.g. opportunity conversion rates. These reports, in turn, require unsuccessful deals to be closed out.
Salesforce clutter. It gets increasingly hard to see the wood from the trees in salesforce. This makes it more difficult to focus on the opportunities that have true value.
Lack of funnel leakage information. It becomes impossible to understand at what stage opportunities are leaking from the sales pipeline.
Reduced competitor information. It becomes more difficult to identify how many deals and of what type of deals that are lost to competitors.
How to use the Closed Lost Opportunity Stage
No self-respecting salesperson likes to set an Opportunity to Closed Lost. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t got a place on the Opportunity Stage picklist.
Closed Lost is appropriate in the right circumstances. It’s appropriate when a deal has been lost to a competitor during a pitch, tender or other competitive situation.
So let’s not beat about the bush. If another business has won an opportunity at our expense then the salesperson should set the deal to Closed Lost.
But many of our clients that have high quality pipeline visibility and sales forecasting accuracy, also use two additional Opportunity Stage picklist values.
Additional Opportunity Stage picklist values
In addition to losing to a competitor, there are two other reasons why deals should be removed from the pipeline.
The customer doesn’t make a purchase. No deal takes place – for anyone. Yet salespeople often have an anathema to using Closed Lost to describe the outcome of these opportunities.So instead of Closed Lost, many companies use an Opportunity Stage picklist value such as No Purchase to remove these deals from the sales pipeline.
The opportunity is qualified-out. In fact this is a legitimate reason for ‘losing’ a deal. As Bud Suse says, coming a close second is a cardinal sin in sales. Don’t waste time, effort and resources on opportunities you are unlikely to win.So instead of Closed Lost, many companies use an Opportunity Stage picklist value such as Qualified Out to remove these deals from the sales pipeline.
Gather additional information on Closed Lost deals
Adding two more Opportunity Stage picklist values in addition to Closed Lost is not necessarily the end of the matter however.
Businesses, quite rightly, often want to gather more information. They want to understand the underlying reasons why a deal was removed from the pipeline.
One way to do this is to create a Reasons Lost picklist field. A validation rule forces salespeople to make a selection from this list.
The problem with this approach is that sales people invariably select a value relating to Price. Which might indeed be the case. But it’s rarely the only reason. (Failure to communicate value might be the true reason!).
There is no killer solution to this problem. However many of our customers gather information on Closed Lost deals in a qualitative format. They have a text field called Lessons Learned in which salespeople identify what could have been done better in the sales process.
It’s not perfect. But experience shows it does provide more information in a useful format than simply selecting from a Reasons Lost picklist. Use this information to analyse sales processes, up-skill and develop salespeople, modify the pricing and discount strategy, develop new product features and create a culture of learning and sharing.
What to do next
The first step is to create additional Opportunity Stage picklist values to Closed Lost. Then educate salespeople and other users on the circumstances when each value is appropriate.
Now that you have done this, here are five ways you can benefit from the removal of dead opportunities from the sales pipeline.
Stage Movement Analysis. Understand at what stage in the sales process your team is removing deals from the sales pipeline. Determine whether it is early or late in the sales cycle. It’s chart #5 on our list of 12 Charts That Should Be On Your Sales Dashboard.
Competitor Analysis. Understand the ratio between deals lost to competitors versus Qualified-out and No Purchase. Apply this information to evolve sales strategy and tactics. Present the data in an informative way using our 5 Tip Guide To Effective Salesforce Reports.
Improve sales morale. No-one likes a loser – so don’t force your salespeople to feel like one. Acknowledge to the team that not every deal can be won; not every customer will make a purchase; and that some deals aren’t worth pursuing in the first place.
Mr Opportunity Probability stands in the corner at parties.
Barely getting a second look.
Everyone knows he has to be invited. But no-one really wants to speak to him.
It would be better if he just went away.
But here’s the thing.
Opportunity Probability can be your friend. He’s actually much more interesting than you think.
“Used in the right way, Opportunity Probability will increase your forecasting accuracy and root out deals that should be qualified-out of the sales funnel.”
It’s just a matter of knowing what to do with him.
So let’s understand what that Opportunity Probability fellow is and why he’s so undervalued.
Then we can explain the 5 tips that will turn him into your valuable and trusted friend.
Opportunity Probability defined
Just in case, let’s be 100% clear what we’re talking about here.
Opportunity Probability is the standard field in salesforce (or any other CRM system for that matter) that quantifies the likelihood of winning an opportunity.
If the Opportunity Stage is Closed Won then the Opportunity Probability is 100%. If the Opportunity Stage is Closed Lost the Opportunity Probability is 0%.
If the opportunity is still open, then the Opportunity Probability is somewhere in between 1% and 99%.
Why Opportunity Probability is disliked
In our experience, there are three reasons why sales executives don’t make the most of Opportunity Probability.
Understanding these reasons – and why they are not valid – is key to making the most of this metric.
Here they are.
Sales deals are binary
When all is said and done, the Opportunities are either Won or Lost. Not something in between.
(OK, only 70% of the value of the opportunity might be won but that’s because the customer beat down the price or didn’t purchase all of the products that had been on the opportunity. The deal is still 100% Won, just the Amount was reduced).
The binary nature of sales means some executives don’t see any value in setting an Opportunity Probability for pipeline deals.
But here’s the thing. No-one knows which deals are going to be won and which are going to be lost. (If they did, then there would be no point in having the deals that are going to be lost in the pipeline).
That means that once there’s a critical mass of opportunities – and that number can be quite low – Opportunity Probability can be used to calculate Expected Revenue (or Weighted Revenue if you prefer that term).
Expected Revenue is one proven way to create a robust sales revenue forecast. It’s not the only way. But used in conjunction with other methods, a sales forecast based on Expected Revenue will stand up to scrutiny from colleagues and internal peers.
Providing, of course, that the Opportunity Probability is accurate.
It can be hard to assess the probability of winning a deal
Often there are many unknowns with sales deals.
We can’t be sure what the customer is truly thinking. We don’t know what price our competitors are quoting. We don’t necessarily know which stakeholders are involved.
This means Opportunity Probabilities can be perceived as difficult to predict or having a spurious degree of accuracy. Is the probability of winning this deal 65%? Or 70%? Or some other figure?
However Opportunity Probabilities should be set based on evidence from the customer. This evidence indicates that a deal is more likely or less likely. Every sales process is different, so agree what constitutes positive and negative evidence in your market place.
More about this in Tip #2.
Opportunity Probabilities are locked to Opportunity Stages
Many salesforce users believe that Opportunities Probabilities are irrevocably linked to Opportunity Stage.
Actually they’re not. It just seems that way.
By default, when an Opportunity Stage is advanced, the probability is increased to the default value associated with that Opportunity Stage. Left untouched, the Opportunity Probability may, therefore, not be realistic on specific opportunities.
It’s not always recognized that the Opportunity Probability can be overwritten and adjusted for each opportunity. Use this flexibility to set a realistic Opportunity Probability on each deal.
5 tips to make Opportunity Probability your friend
So here are the five tips that will make Opportunity Probability your trusted friend.
1. Adjust the Opportunity Probability on each opportunity
Too often sales people and their managers regard the Opportunity Probability as fixed for any given Opportunity Stage.
As we’ve already mentioned, it isn’t.
Simply double-click on the field or Edit the Opportunity to set the value that’s right for that particular deal.
Make sure sales people understand how to adjust Opportunity Probabilities and why they need to.
2. Set Opportunity Probabilities based on customer evidence
Think about this situation for a moment.
Let’s say four companies are competing for a deal. They all have an Opportunity Stage of Investigation, with an Opportunity Probability of 25%.
All four companies submit their quote and move the Opportunity Stage to Customer Evaluating. Let’s say that Stage has a default probability of 30%.
So now the combined Opportunity Probability is 120%. Which, clearly, is nonsense.
In fact, the only thing that has happened is that the sales process – as perceived by each seller – has moved forward.
This happens all too often. The Opportunity Probability reflects the state-of-play in the selling process. It doesn’t say anything about the buying process.
So instead, base Opportunity Probabilities on evidence from the potential customer. Here are three examples of evidence from the customer that might warrant an increase in probability.
You are given preferential access to key stakeholders in order to conduct discovery.
After receiving four proposals, the customer selects you and one other for presentation.
The customer Sponsor communicates to colleagues that he or she prefers your proposal over the competitors.
Define and agree the customer and buyer behaviors in your specific market place that might indicate a positive intent from the prospect. Standardize and agree these across the sales team.
Admittedly, setting Opportunity Probabilities based on customer evidence is more difficult than simply relying on the default Stage values. But it encourages sales people to think through the sales process and to seek out customer commitment. That in itself, increases the likelihood of a successful sales outcome.
3. Use non-standard Opportunity Probability values
No-one mandates that increments of 5 or 10 have to be used in Opportunity Probabilities.
Here’s what a highly successful VP of Sales at one of our customers says to his team.
“I know the chance of winning this deal is 50:50. But use your instinct. Set the Opportunity Probability to 49% or 51%. I want to know which side of the fence you’re on.”
Not every 51% deal is won and not every 49% deal is lost. But the act of coming down on one side or the other encourages thought and analysis.
In this business, managers work through each deal with the sales executives to coach them on driving the buying process forward. This dialogue – assisted by the Opportunity Probability – contributes to conversion rates well above industry norms for our customer.
4. Set realistic default values for each Opportunity Stage
We’ve talked about setting an individual Opportunity Probability for each Opportunity. But the default Opportunity Probabilities associated with each Stage still have a role to play.
These default values should reflect the norm for your business.
They provide a benchmark for sales people to adjust the Opportunity Probabilities on individual deals.
If the Opportunity Probability is above the benchmark, can it be justified? If it’s below, can the sales approach be improved?
But here’s our experience.
In many cases, the default Opportunity Probabilities set by companies on the early Opportunity Stages are too low. And the default values set on the latter Stages are too high.
Take a hard look at the default Opportunity Probability values in your salesforce environment. Discuss them in a team meeting. Reach agreement on the right values for your business based on experience and input from the sales team.
5. Automatically set Opportunity Probabilities based on historical outcomes
Thus far we’ve talked about the standard Opportunity Probability field in salesforce.
But what if you could automatically set the Opportunity Probability field based on past experience?
That would mean the probability is automatically set depending on factors such as:
New versus existing customer.
Historical sales person performance.
Size of the deal.
Region or geographical territory.
Products associated with the opportunity.
We’ve implemented exactly that functionality for a number of GSP customers.
In summary, historical opportunity probabilities in a custom object. A piece of code then automatically updates a custom Opportunity Probability field on the Opportunity. The probability in the custom field is based on the outcome of historical opportunities that match the current opportunity.
Our customers who use this solution still use the standard Opportunity Probability field. This means the sales person can set a different value to the probability that has been automatically set. It has proven to be an invaluable facilitator of discussion between the sales person and his sales coach or manager.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to see this solution in action.
“If you’ve left Mr Opportunity Probability alone in the corner up to now then this is the time to bring him out into the open.”
Used in the right way, Opportunity Probability encourages sales people to think through their opportunities. It facilitates discussion between managers and sales people. It enables accurate forecasting based on Expected Revenue.
It does, in short, lead to superior sales results. It’s just a matter of knowing what to do with him.
Big is beautiful. At least when it comes to pipeline size.
That’s all other things being equal, of course. Bigger is better, assuming the sales pipeline only contains deals of the right quality. To make sure this is the case, there are a number of dashboard charts and reports that accurately measure sales pipeline quality.
So, here are the four salesforce dashboard charts and underlying reports that accurately measure the size of the sales pipeline.
1. Pipeline size by Close Date and Stage
If you only create one pipeline size dashboard chart then make it this one. It’s the starting point for any funnel review focused on pipeline size.
The dashboard chart shows the size of the pipeline by Close Date. The individual segments group the pipeline size by Opportunity Stage.
Why this chart is useful
Use this chart to assess the size and strength of the pipeline, both near term and into the future.
Here are three examples of the insights this chart gives.
Pipeline size this month. The dashboard chart in our example shows the pipeline for September is £2.5M. Let’s assume the typical sales cycle is 3 months. In which case, we need to confirm how many of those deals in the Prospecting Stage can be relied upon to successfully close this month.
Negotiation Pipeline. October and November both have deals at the Negotiation Stage. Is it really going to take several months to conclude these opportunities? Maybe. But it is also probably worth investigating whether these deals can be brought forward to boost this months’ revenue.
End of year pipeline. December shows an upturn in the size of the pipeline. We need to know if this is realistic. Is there a compelling reason why more deals will close this month? Sometimes December 31st is entered into opportunities on the basis of, “well, it’s bound to close sometime this year”. If so, then the December pipeline size is overstated.
This chart shows the pipeline size in the form of a traditional sales funnel.
It’s often the first chart that gets created on the dashboard because it’s the one that resembles a traditional funnel.
Why this chart is useful
Actually, we have mixed views about this chart.
The funnel chart is a good way to check whether the pipeline is in proportion.
In the chart above, for example, the value of deals in the Investigating Stage and Customer Evaluating Stage is almost identical. This suggests a shortage of pipeline in the earlier Investigating Stage. It’s highlighting that the funnel is out of kilter.
Here’s another example. Look at the funnel size chart below.
The total pipeline is exactly the same. But the pipeline is short of deals at the first Opportunity Stage, Prospecting. Again, it’s highlighting a sales revenue problem down the road.
But there’s several things to watch out for with this chart.
First, there’s not time context with this chart. It shows the total size of the pipeline, irrespective of when those deals are likely to close.
Second, the shape of the dashboard chart doesn’t vary with the amount of pipeline at each Stage. What does vary is the height of the slices and the numbers within them.
So be careful. This pipeline size dashboard chart is a good one to eyeball every week. It describes whether the total pipeline is in proportion. And that’s a good reason to have it on your dashboard.
When is a dashboard chart not a chart? When it’s a dashboard Metric.
Here’s an example of what we mean.
A salesforce dashboard metric gives a single total figure that it pulls from the underlying report.
So, to easily view the total size of the pipeline, use a metric.
Here are two other examples. First, the total value of open opportunities due to close this month.
And second, the size of the pipeline due to close next month.
What it’s good for
Dashboard metrics give an immediate understanding of the overall size of the pipeline.
In the example above, if you know your sales target for next month £0.5M, then all other things being equal, you’re probably in good shape. If the target is £1.5M you’ve got a problem. But least you know there’s a problem, and that gives you chance to do something about it.
4. Trend in the size of the pipeline
This chart measures the trend in the size of the pipeline. It’s called the As-At Historical Pipeline Trend report and dashboard chart.
The chart shows the size of the pipeline As-At the first day of each month. We can see here that the month-on-month trend is positive. The pipeline is getting bigger.
What it’s good for
Effective sales managers know the size of the pipeline at any point in time.
But they also know the trend in the size of the pipeline. The trend tells them whether they are doing the right things. Moving in the right direction. Making headway.
This dashboard chart also comes with a little sister that measures the trend in pipeline size on a daily and weekly basis. Read this blog post to find out more about pipeline size trend dashboard charts.
Pipeline size salesforce dashboard
Here’s what a salesforce dashboard might look like with these four charts that measure sales pipeline size.
The dashboard charts give sales executives the essential information on pipeline size. And the bigger the size of the pipeline, the more you are likely to sell.
All other things being equal.
But size is no good without high quality. It’s important to identify which deals need to be questioned in terms of close dates. That’s why we’ve also published blog posts that demonstrate specific dashboard charts to measure the quality of deals in the sales funnel. Combine with the pipeline quality charts with pipeline size charts to get the complete management picture.
For help with all things dashboards, of course, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Low salesforce user adoption bedevils many companies.
That’s why a lot of time and trouble is spent trying to increase salesforce user adoption.
Because quite simply, if the users don’t use system the way you intend, then no matter what else happens, the benefits aren’t going to be delivered.
But many businesses fail to achieve this. After all, most sales people don’t vote for more visibility of sales performance and activity levels. Or for more ‘perceived’ admin at the expense of sales time. So attempts to increase salesforce user adoption often fail.
We have completed over a thousand salesforce projects. Our experience is that a 3 step approach is required to increase salesforce user adoption. Do these 3 things well from the outset and your business will have high salesforce user adoption. Apply these steps to a current salesforce environment and you will turnaround existing low levels of user adoption.
1. Create an advantage to using salesforce
This means it’s easier for front-line sales people to do their jobs using salesforce than not using it.
If there is no benefit to front-line sales people in using salesforce then user adoption will not increase. This often happens when salesforce is implemented for the sole reason of giving the management team visibility of the sales pipeline.
Here are some ways to make it easier for sales people to do their jobs using salesforce. They represent an immediate way to increase salesforce user adoption.
Give first-line line sales people and their immediate managers with the information they need to manage their sales pipeline effectively. Focus on dashboard charts that provide visibility of the size, trend and quality of their pipeline. If you’re seeking inspiration then look at our blog post “12 charts that every sales manager should have on his dashboard‘. If you only have time to create one pipeline dashboard chart then make it this one.
Use smart AppExchange applications
Integrate other low cost / high value applications with salesforce to add further value. Start with the free Dupecatcher application to improve data quality. Use Conga to automatically generate well formatted proposals from salesforce. Use electronic signature applications to make it easy for customers to commit to your quotes.
Bring other relevant data into salesforce
If other systems store invoice or order information then import this data into salesforce. That way, when the sales person is standing outside the customers’ premises he can quickly and easily see the trend in orders over the last 3 or 6 months. This doesn’t necessarily need full-blown integration. One person’s integration is another’s weekly import wizard.
There are lots of other ways to use salesforce to make people more efficient, effective and productive. Get in touch if you would like a free review of your salesforce environment and we’ll help you get started.
2. Create a disadvantage to not using salesforce
Step 1 states that there should be an advantage to using salesforce in order to increase user adoption. But step 2 is the converse. Create a disadvantage to not using it.
In other words, it must be easier for a first-line sales person to do their job using salesforce. But must also harder for that same person to do their job if they don’t use it.
Here are some examples of what we mean. Apply these examples to increase salesforce user adoption.
Use pipeline reports and dashboards to manage the sales team
This means using dashboards and reports that give visibility of the pipeline and sales performance in 1.1s, appraisals and team meetings. If the sales person says “Some of my opportunities are in Excel or my notebook” then the managers’ response has to be, “Sorry, they’re inadmissible evidence! We are conducting this conversation on the basis of the information that I can see in salesforce”. Here are examples of dashboard charts that are good to use in team reviews, the focus on managing pipeline quality.
Track sales targets in salesforce
Every sales person performs against a target. But too often these targets are stored outside salesforce. This means the dialogue about whether the sales person has sufficient pipeline to meet his target also takes place outside his target. Tracking targets within salesforce is a very powerful way to increase salesforce user adoption. Here are 3 ways to measure sales versus target in salesforce.
Ensure managers use salesforce Chatter
Don’t communicate key messages on email, use Chatter. Have managers interact with sales reports on individual opportunities directly on the Chatter feed within each Opportunity. That way if sales people aren’t regularly logged into salesforce they are missing out on critical dialogue with the management team. For more information on making full use of Chatter read 10 Tips For Chatter Roll-out.
Manage discount approval requests only in salesforce
Too often price discount requests are submitted to managers by email. This means the rationale for a discount is quickly lost to the mists of time. To increase salesforce user adoption ensure managers only deal with discount requests that are submitted using the Approvals process in salesforce. Study this blog post for recommendations from a pricing expert on how to limit the margin given away by price discounts. It includes an explanation of how to implement these ideas in salesforce.
The key thing here is that there is an advantage to using salesforce. But increasing salesforce user adoption also means there must also be pain associated with not using it.
3. Use metrics to increase salesforce user adoption
Most things are impossible to manage without measurement. Salesforce user adoption is no exception.
And if you can measure it, you can manage it.
But salesforce user adoption metrics need to be more sophisticated than simply tracking whether sales people have logged on. That reveals nothing about what they did next.
Here are some metrics for measuring salesforce user adoption that can be run at the individual sales person level.
Number of Contacts created in the last 30 days
We’re all meeting new people all of the time. Are these new Contacts being entered into salesforce? If not, then salesforce user adoption is low.
Opportunities with Close Dates in the past
Deals can’t close in the past. So a significant number of opportunities with close dates in the past tell us that the pipeline is inaccurate. But it’s also telling us that user adoption is low because sales people aren’t using salesforce to manage their opportunities.
Percentage of Opportunity fields populated
This report measures the number of non-mandatory fields that are populated with data on the Opportunity (or any other type of record for that matter). In other words, if one person on average populates 80 percent of fields and another 40 percent then the first has a much higher level of salesforce user adoption.
These are just three examples of how to measure salesforce user adoption. As you can see, the best user adoption reports don’t actually focus on user adoption per se – rather, they track the key metrics that are important to the business – it’s just that they also tell us how well users are using the system. Here’s a blog post specifically about how to measure user adoption in salesforce.
Increase salesforce user adoption in your business
Achieving full salesforce user adoption can be a challenge. But follow the 3 steps to achieve full salesforce user adoption. Don’t forget, create an advantage to using salesforce, create a disadvantage to not using it, and measure and proactively manage user adoption.
Companies that consistently gather information about opportunity competitors outperform those that don’t.
A no brainer, right? If you understand how your rivals compete then you increase your chances of winning against them.
But here’s what I’ve found in my experience.
Most businesses are quite poor at using salesforce to track competitors on opportunities.
And yet the benefits are significant. They include the ability to:
Qualify opportunities based on historic success against competitors.
Tailor your sales approach based on the competitors on each deal.
Consistently increase win rates by learning what worked and what didn’t.
But there’s one other major benefit.
The act of recording competitor information in itself increases the chances of a successful outcome. It encourages sales people to think about their approach. Facilitates thought and discussion about the best way to approach each sales opportunity. Often surfacing unconscious information.
Achieving these benefits means gathering information about individual competitors on each opportunity. Here are 5 ways you can do that:
Use the standard opportunity competitor functionality.
Use a Reasons Lost and Lost To Picklists.
Link competitor Accounts to Opportunities.
Use a custom Competitor object.
Use the GSP Competitor custom solution.
Not all of these options are mutually exclusive. Let’s explain each one and understand when it is appropriate.
1. Standard salesforce competitor tracking function
A good solution if:
You need a solution today. (Competitors may already be on your page layout).
Reporting on won / lost deals against competitors isn’t too important. You simply need a way for sales people to capture the competitors involved in a deal.
This feature hasn’t changed much in the 13 years that I’ve been implementing salesforce.
It allows basic information to be captured about the competitors on each opportunity.
If you haven’t modified your opportunity page layouts then the chances are the Competitor Related List is already visible to your users. Here’s what it looks like on the Opportunity page without any Competitor information added:
Clicking the new Button allows competitor information to be added:
Competitors are manually entered by users. The lookup icon (immediately to the right of the Competitor Name) can be customized so that users can select from a predetermined list. Here’s an example of what we mean:
The page can’t be customized in any way so you’re limited to the Strengths and Weaknesses fields that you see above.
Here’s what the layout looks like with some competitor information added:
The function is simple and easy to use. One drawback is that unless users consistently select competitors from the predetermined list or enter the same name for each competitor, then the quality of reports is reduced.
For example, the report above shows the number of times we’ve been up against each competitor. GenePoint has been entered in several different ways which detracts from the value of the report.
It’s also not possible to record which competitor won the opportunity. We would therefore need separate charts to show our win / loss ratios against each competitor.
2. Reasons Lost picklist
A good solution if:
You need basic information on which competitor won a deal and why it was lost.
You use the solution in conjunction with the standard competitor functionality.
Users can be persuaded to enter the true reason why a deal is lost. In very many cases sales people enter ‘Price’ for the Reason Lost. That’s not always the reason in my experience!
This is the solution most commonly implemented by businesses that want to track competitors in salesforce. It can be used in parallel with the standard competitor tracking function described above.
There are various ways to implement this option. In essence it’s a way to capture additional information when a deal is lost. (The same approach can be used for Won deals).
In our example, when an Opportunity Stage is set to Lost, picklist and text fields are used to record more information. This includes the name of the winning company and reasons why the deal was lost (both picklist fields). A text field is also used to capture supplementary information.
The approach means that a variety of management reports can be created. For example here we can see the competitors to whom we’ve lost deals and the reason why.
A validation rule can ensure the fields are completed when users set the opportunity to Closed Lost. A similar combination of fields can be used to record information on why a deal was won.
Bear in mind though that there’s no way to record multiple competitors on an opportunity this way. It’s therefore a good option if you’re using the standard competitor function to record involvement.
3. Link Competitor Accounts to Opportunities using Partner Roles
A good solution if:
Multiple Accounts (not just competitors) play a role on many opportunities.
Management reporting on competitor involvement in opportunities is important.
In this approach each competitor is created as an Account in salesforce. The competitor Accounts are then linked to relevant Opportunities.
Storing competitors as Accounts isn’t as crazy as it sounds. They are, after all, companies. And those companies have Contacts and other data that you may want to record about competitors. It also means no significant configuration of the system is required in order to capture competitor information.
Competitors are usually identified through the Type field on the Account or have their own Record Type.
The linking between the competitor Account and the Opportunity is done using the Partner Roles feature. This is a standard function that allows the role played by one or more Accounts on an opportunity to be specified. These ‘role’ values can be modified to include Competitor.
Companies that use this approach often re-name the Partner function to Account Roles or Competitors.
For example, on this Opportunity we can see two Competitors and two other businesses playing a role on the opportunity.
From the opportunity, when users click New Account Role or Competitor. They ‘lookup’ to an actual Account rather than entering text for the name of the partner. The role played by the Account on the opportunity is also specified.
This means that the feature can be used to capture information about a variety of companies that might be playing a role on the opportunity.
Some readers might baulk at the idea of creating competitors as Accounts. If competitors are stored as Accounts then what about the risk of accidentally emailing competitor contacts?
The way to avoid this risk is to check the Email Opt Out box on all Contacts associated with the Account. If you have salesforce Enterprise Edition or access to workflow rules then this process can be automated to eliminate the accidental-email risk.
This approach significantly improves reporting compared to the standard competitor tracking feature. However there’s no way to capture the specific strengths / weaknesses of each competitor in relation to the opportunity. This is because the page layout in which the Account is selected and the role specified cannot be modified.
As with the standard competitor tracking function this option can be combined with picklists or text fields on the opportunity to capture information when the deal is won or lost.
4. Custom object to record competitor involvement
A good solution if:
You have a relatively small number of major opportunities in which it’s important to understand and evaluate competitor positions.
It’s important to capture both quantitative and qualitative information about competitors.
There are lessons to be learned from each opportunity that will improve win rates going forward.
Reporting on competitor involvement is important.
In this solution each competitor is also created as an Account. However a custom object (“Competitors”) is used to store a variety of information about the competitor’s role on an opportunity.
This information might include competitor strengths and weaknesses, whether the competitor is an incumbent supplier, your strategy for competing against the competitor and lessons learned about the outcome.
Here’s an example:
Multiple competitor records can be stored on one opportunity.
Using a custom object gives considerable flexibility over the additional information that is recorded about each competitor on the deal. For example, the Deal Winner checkbox also shows which competitor won the deal (assuming it wasn’t you!).
The means we can report more deeply on performance. In this case, for example, determine how we fair when competing against the incumbent supplier.
The solution requires some configuration including the creation of a custom object. However it provides more powerful insight into the involvement of competitors on opportunities.
5. Custom GSP solution for tracking competitors
A good solution if:
The flexibility of the custom object solution (option 4) meets your competitor tracking needs.
You want to make it simple for sales people to add competitor information to opportunities.
Here’s a variation on option 4 that makes it easier for users to add and edit information about competitor involvement on the opportunity.
In option 4 the user creates each competitor involvement record by clicking the ‘New’ button every time.
The custom solution uses a Visualforce page to create and add the new records. This means users can enter or update all the competitor information from within a single page.
This improves the usability of the solution by making it quick and easy for sales people to add competitor information to opportunities.
Tracking competitors on opportunities is a sure-fire way to improve win rates. It means that both the sales strategy and the approach taken on individual opportunities can be continuously improved. And that means upward growth in revenue compared to the competition.
To see how competitor tracking can work in your business simply get in touch to arrange a customized demo of any of the options described in this article.
Why have you flagged some customers and prospects as key accounts?
You did it for a reason.
The reason is these accounts are probably the most strategically important customers. They are the prospects with whom you expect to drive most future value. They are the businesses and segments on which your company’s growth depends.
You want to develop and nurture these accounts. That requires proactive management. And it requires sustained activity that consistently adds value.
That means it’s critical to be on top of key account activity.
But how best to measure this activity? How do we know these key accounts are getting the engagement they need and deserve?
Here are two essential reports for achieving that:
Key Account Last Activity Report.
Key Account Engagement Frequency Report.
Use these reports to plan and monitor activities on each account.
We’ll look at the impact of each in turn. But before we do, take a moment to consider the type of activities we want to consider as value-adding on key accounts. It’s these tasks and events that we want to pull onto the reports.
How to record value adding Activities in salesforce
All sorts of activities get added to accounts. Marketing emails, phone calls, voicemails, Outlook emails, meeting notes and so on.
We’re interested in those planned activities that add value. In most businesses that’s likely to include a combination of face-to-face meetings, presentations, conference calls and pre-arranged phone calls.
The key account reports need to identify these activities. Do this by having your system administrator make the Activity Type field visible (why it is invisible to users by default is something of a mystery). Modify the picklist values to align them with the activity types you consider valuable. And make the field mandatory.
In other words, on both Tasks and Events, users have to select an appropriate value from the Activity Type field.
Have your system administrator do one other thing. Make the Due Date on Tasks mandatory. That avoids having uncompleted Tasks hanging around in limbo.
Now you’re ready to create some meaningful reports.
Report 1 – Key Account Last Activity Report
The dashboard chart below shows, for each key account, the number of days since the last completed activity.
At the bottom of the table, we can see that the last activity on Wide World Importers was today. For Fourth Coffee it was yesterday. And Southbridge Video it was 7 days ago.
Then there’s several accounts in no-man’s-land in terms of our engagement. They’re shown by the amber conditional highlighting on the dashboard table. These are the accounts in danger of neglect. We need to undertake some key account planning in salesforce and get to grips with these customers.
But look at the top two accounts. The red flag is flying. It’s over a month (two months in the case of Aethna Home Products) since the last activity. If we really do regard these two customers as key accounts, we need a higher level of engagement than this.
Here’s the underlying report and behind the dashboard table.
The numbers within the report show the number of days since the last activity. For Genepoint, for example, the last activity was 20 days ago.
The ‘buckets’ across the top of the report provide additional categorisation. It’s easy to see all the key accounts on which the Last Activity was 1 to 14 days ago, for example.
Here’s the chart that’s embedded within report.
Again it’s an ‘easy on the eye’ way to quickly see which key accounts are being neglected. It looks like we have a serious problem with Aethna Home Products.
Report 2 – Frequency of Engagement on Key Accounts
The report and dashboard table above show the date of the last activity. But they don’t tell us how often we’re engaging with these key accounts.
To understand the intensity of engagement we need a report that shows the number of activities per month. That’s what the Frequency of Engagement report tells us.
Have a look at this example.
The report shows the number of activities on each key account per month. (Remember it’s only those activities that our Activity Type field defines as value-adding that are included in the report).
We now have robust visibility on the extent to which we are managing these key accounts proactively.
Let’s take several examples.
Aethna Home Products. We already know about this one. There were two activities in January but nothing since.
Coeus Solutions. Good activity levels on this key account in January and February. But it looks like we need to get busy in March. Don’t let it become neglected.
Fourth Coffee. This was a neglected key account that was identified at the start of the year as being in need of remedial action. The report shows we’ve started to address the situation.
Genepoint. The report we looked at earlier shows the last activity 20 days ago. But the situation is even worse than we thought. This report reveals we had no meaningful activity January and thus far nothing in March. Time for action.
So the report allows us to scrutinize our activity and engagement with these key accounts. It gives us the factual information we need to manage key accounts proactively.
Identify key accounts that require remedial action and a course of sustained activity.
Manage key accounts that are at risk of being neglected.