• How to implement a robust lead management process.
• Measuring the revenue contribution of converted leads.
• Track key metrics to improve lead performance.
• Compare win rates on opportunities created from converted leads.
• How to analyse lead performance from multiple angles and identify improvements.
The webinar will give you a unique understanding of lead metrics in salesforce. You will gain new, specific actions to increase revenue from leads that you can immediately apply in your business.
You will, of course, have the opportunity to ask questions.
We are limited to 80 places on the webinar. Don’t miss out. Register today.
Unfortunately, the Opportunity Probability IS usually wrong.
It’s wrong because in most salesforce implementations, the probability links directly to the Opportunity Stage. It reflects how far the Opportunity is through the sales process. However, it doesn’t say anything about the chances of winning the deal.
But this relationship can be uncoupled. It’s even possible to set Opportunity Probabilities automatically, based on proven historical evidence.
That way, the Expected Revenue report becomes a realistic revenue forecast and a key sales performance indicator.
That’s the holy grail of sales management.
Expected Revenue Defined
Let’s be clear what we’re talking about here.
Expected Revenue (or Weighted Revenue if you prefer) is the Opportunity Amount multiplied by the Probability. That gives a dollar value for each Opportunity.
Add up these dollars for all your open deals and you have the Expected Revenue for each month or quarter.
If you calculate Expected Revenue on a realistic basis, sales manages know where they stand in relation to future sales targets.
That means decisions that drive sales team behavior are better informed.
For example, if the Expected Revenue is higher than the sales target, focus heavily on closing the deals you already have.
Alternatively, if the Expected Revenue is too low, then the sales team must generate more pipeline to meet target.
The Power of Expected Revenue
Many sales managers dismiss Expected Revenue as irrelevant.
That’s because it relies on calculating the weighted value of each Opportunity. Yet the outcome of each deal is a win or a loss. The full value of the Opportunity is won – or nothing is won.
It’s a binary outcome.
But wait a moment.
Let’s say you have a number of deals due to close next month or next quarter. You will win some and lose some.
The problem is you do not know which will be which. Crystal balls are hard to find.
Suppose you knew this information in advance. You would take 100% of the value of those opportunities that you will win. Likewise, you’d take zero value of the deals that will be lost.
But life isn’t like that.
Other than gut feel, you don’t know which will be won.
However, creating a forecast based on Expected Revenue is the way round that. The catch is it relies on setting a realistic probability for each opportunity.
The Problem with Opportunity Probability
The Opportunity Probability is wrong on many deals because it links only to the Opportunity Stage.
If the Stage moves forward, the Probability automatically increases. That happens irrespective of whether your chance of winning the deal has increased.
For example, let’s say four similar companies are pitching for a deal. They all have an Opportunity Stage called Needs Analysis. And let’s say they all have the Opportunity at 25% Probability.
All four sales teams submit their proposals. They all move the Stage onto Proposal Submitted – which for each company, has an Opportunity Probability of 30%.
All other things being equal, the individual chance of any one sales team winning the deal has not changed. There are four of them left. So each one has a 25% chance of winning.
In fact, it’s probably less than 25% because the prospect may decide not to proceed with any purchase.
However, the total Expected Revenue for each individual Opportunity has increased. Indeed, across the four combined companies, the total probability is 120%.
That clearly doesn’t make sense.
It means that a reliable Expected Revenue forecast needs a better way to estimate opportunity probability.
The Probability of Winning a Deal
For any one company, the Probability of successfully closing an Opportunity is dependent on many factors.
These might include geographic sector, product category, tender versus pitch deal and so on.
For our purposes, let’s consider two factors that apply to many businesses:
New or existing customer. Usually the chance of winning a deal is significantly higher with an existing customer compared to a new prospect.
The effectiveness of the sales person. Some sales people consistently close more deals compared to the rest of the team.
This where we need to consider history.
In financial services, there’s usually a warning that past performance is not an indicator of future returns.
With sales teams, it’s different. Past performance is an excellent indicator of future returns. We can use that to our advantage.
By extrapolating the Opportunity Probability from similar historic deals, it’s possible to forecast the future. It’s possible to confidently predict Expected Revenue.
Historic Opportunity Conversion Rates
We have implemented functionality for our customers to gather data on historic opportunity probabilities and conversion rates.
New versus Existing Customer conversion rates
Look at the report and dashboard table below.
It shows the difference in opportunity conversion rates between new and existing customers.
The report and chart tells us about conversion rates for existing versus new customers. For example:
41% of all Opportunities with existing customers were successfully won, compared to 34% for new customers. See the “1. Prospecting” row in the report.
58% of Opportunities with existing customers that entered the “2. Investigation” Stage were won. This compares with 53% of Opportunities that entered the same Stage for new customers.
76% of Opportunities with existing customers that entered the “3. Proposal Made” Stage were successfully won. This compares with 65% of Opportunities that entered this Stage for new customers.
92% of Opportunities with existing customers that entered the “4. Negotiation” Stage were won. This compares with 79% of Opportunities that entered this Stage for new customers.
In other words, the report provides the information we need to differentiate Opportunity Probability between new and existing customers.
This is the starting point for more accurate Expected Revenue forecasts.
Sales person conversion rates
Now, let’s consider the difference in opportunity conversion rates between sales people.
The report shows that Dave Apthorp wins 60% of all his Opportunities compared to 27% for Peter Hemsworth and 36% for Shaun Yates. This is shown in the “1 Prospecting” row.
Look at other rows in the report. They tell us the Opportunity Conversion rate that for Opportunities that move into each Opportunity Stage.
For example, of all the deals that enter the “4 Negotiation” Stage, Dave successfully closes 90% compared to 78% for Peter and 86% for Shaun.
Accurate Expected Revenue
Our customers use the information in these reports to calculate Expected Revenue accurately.
To do this we need a custom Opportunity Probability field.
The field populates by a formula, based on the information we garnered from the conversion reports.
Let’s take an example.
Here’s an Opportunity for £15,000 with a New Customer. It’s in the Investigation Stage.
Based on the standard method, the Opportunity Probability is 25% and the Expected Revenue £3,750.
However, we know from our reports that 47% of Opportunities with new customers that enter the Investigation Stage are successfully closed.
That figure automatically enters our custom Opportunity Probability field. Now the Expected Revenue becomes £7050.
Alternatively, let’s consider what happens if this Opportunity is for an existing customer.
We know that 58% of all Opportunities with existing customers that enter the Investigation Stage close successfully.
Therefore, that figure automatically enters our custom Opportunity Probability field. This time the Expected Revenue is £8,700.
In other words, a realistic Opportunity Probability, based on historic conversion rates, automatically populates for each opportunity.
This, in turn, provides a more realistic (and in this case higher) Expected Revenue.
Accurate Expected Revenue Forecasts
Expected Revenue calculates by multiplying the opportunity probability by the value of the deal.
The problem is that our probabilities link directly to the Opportunity Stage.
However, if we use historical facts it’s different.
We know that 58% of Opportunities with existing customers that enter the Investigation Stage close successfully. We know that Dave Apthorp successfully closes 60% of all his Opportunities, compared to 36% for Shaun Yates.
Now we can use these facts to set realistic Opportunity Probabilities and drive accurate Expected Revenue reports.
And accurate Expected Revenue reports mean accurate sales forecasts.
To find out more about how to create an accurate sales forecast using Expected Revenue in your business, simply get in touch.
There is often dis-agreement between Sales and Marketing on the difference between a lead and an opportunity. Yet clarity is essential.
But that can be harder than it sounds.
Why is there so much confusion? After all, most Sales and Marketing people will acknowledge that a lead is the first step in the sales cycle.
Here’s why it’s a problem.
Salesperson’s definition of a lead
To a salesperson, a Lead can come as easily from an existing customer or known prospect, as a brand new one.
The lead can be repeat business for an existing customer. Or a new prospect, freshly arrived through the door.
Either way, the sales process has started. It may not be advanced enough to warrant an Opportunity in salesforce.com. But sales engagement has at least commenced.
So, from a salesperson’s perspective, a lead reflects a broad range of early stage, potential opportunities that require immediate action.
Marketing person’s definition of a lead
A Marketing person’s perception of a lead can vary in two important ways.
First, a Lead is often a person or business that will potentially make a purchase at some undetermined point in the future.
Marketing may hand the lead to Sales, but not necessarily with the expectation that a sale will immediately result. The lead is a potential customer that may engage in a future sales process. Conversely, to a salesperson, a lead is someone entering the sales process right now.
Second, to Marketing a lead is very often a new company or person. The business or contact may not have existed previously in the database. Indeed, the role of Marketing in many businesses is to increase the overall lead database for long-term benefit.
Sales are under pressure to close deals in the short term. Marketing want to nurture the Lead. It’s this contrast in expectations that frequently results in Sales to complaining about the quality of Leads created by Marketing.
Salesforce lead process
Sales and Marketing often fail to agree on the difference between a lead and an Opportunity. This directly obstructs the implementation of an effective lead process in salesforce.
So what constitutes a lead in the salesforce.com CRM system?
In fact, salesforce uses the term Lead in several different ways. Let’s take them step by step.
Lead as a brand new enquiry
Start by thinking of a Lead in salesforce as a brand new enquiry, from a business and person you’ve never previously heard of.
For example, let’s say you have a Web-to-Lead form set up on your web site. Web-to-Lead is an easy way to integrate salesforce with your web site. It means anyone that fills in your Contact Us form will be created automatically in salesforce as a lead.
So, the lead is created. What’s the first thing that should happen in the lead process? Check for duplicates by clicking on the Find Duplicates button on the Lead page layout.
This will identify any matching Leads or Contacts that already exist in your salesforce database. Let’s assume you don’t find any.
Now you make an outbound telephone call to the Lead. Essentially, one of three outcomes will result from this part of the lead process.
The Lead is a dead end
It turns out the person isn’t interested in any further dialogue. Perhaps it was a student simply looking for research information. Either way, set the Lead Status to Closed. You don’t necessarily delete the Lead from the database, but no further action is anticipated.
The Lead is a definite maybe
The Lead is moderately interested in your products and services. He doesn’t want to speak to a sales person – at least not yet. But you agree to send a brochure, product specification or price list. So this time set the Lead Status to Contacted. You might also create a follow up Task to call the Lead again in the future.
The Lead is a sales Opportunity
The Lead agrees to a meeting or phone call with a Sales person. Or he requests a quote. In other words, he gives you some indication that he’s a legitimate potential customer. He’s a Qualified Lead.
This time leave the Lead Status alone. Instead, click on the Convert Lead button. Salesforce will convert the Lead into three separate records; an Account; Contact; and Opportunity.
Here’s the process in a flow chart diagram.
The Account represents the business or organisation. The Contact is the person employed by that organisation. And the Opportunity represents the potential sales deal.
It’s this early stage Opportunity that many Sales people will regard as a Lead.
Indeed Sales people may be reluctant to use the term Opportunity. It raises expectations about the outcome. It creates visibility of the deal in the sales pipeline dashboard. And from the salesperson’s perspective, the Lead may – or may not – have been properly qualified by Marketing before it was converted to an Account, Contact and Opportunity.
All legitimate issues. Before we address them, let’s deal with several other ways salesforce uses the term Lead.
Leads that match existing Lead records
Let’s go to back to our person that filled in the Contact Us form on your web site.
In our example, we assumed that no existing Lead or Contact matched our new Lead. We established this by clicking on the Find Duplicates button on the Lead page layout.
What if one or more matching Leads had been found?
No problem. Use the Merge Leads button to merge the various Leads into a single record. Then make your qualification call.
Here’s the lead process diagram.
Leads that match existing Contact records
How can an existing Contact be created as a Lead in salesforce? There’s a number of ways.
For example, Leads can be created by importing the spreadsheet that contains a list of people that came to a booth at an exhibition. Some of those people may well be existing Contacts.
Or, a Web-to-Lead form on your web site that allows visitors to register for an event. When an existing Contact registers she’s created as a Lead. The same thing happens if you’re using Web-to-Lead to enable visitors to download a document from your web site.
In any of these cases, when you click on the Find Duplicates button you may find there’s a matching Contact.
Here’s three ways to deal with the Contact-as-a-Lead situation.
Convert the Lead without making a Qualification call
During the Lead conversion, salesforce will help you merge the Lead into the existing Contact record. If the Account Owner is already actively engaged with the Contact – on an existing Opportunity for example – then perhaps it isn’t appropriate to make the qualification call.
Convert the Lead and then make a Qualification call
This is the common approach when it’s the Account Owner that is dealing with the Lead. He or she merges the Lead into the Contact record and then makes a call to the Contact.
Make a qualification call before Converting the Lead
This approach is used most frequently when Marketing or Inside Sales is dealing with the Lead. They make call to the Lead, cognisant of the fact that the person already has a relationship with the company. Following the conversation the Lead is converted, but Marketing or Inside Sales make a human decision on whether to simultaneously create an Opportunity.
Here’s the process diagram for the last of these scenarios.
To Convert a Lead without creating an Opportunity, check the box “Do not create Opportunity upon conversion” during the convert process. It’s underneath the Opportunity name on the Convert Lead page layout.
At the end of the Monty Python scene, Palin and Cleese continue to argue about whether the argument is finished.
You can do better than that. You can resolve the argument about lead processes in the workshop. And then build the lead process in salesforce; it’s a sure-fire way to increase sales and marketing alignment.
Free lead process diagram download
Are the lead process diagrams in this article useful to you? Download the diagrams in Powerpoint. Use them starting point for creating your own lead management process.
Here are two quick wins using web to lead that many companies overlook:
Web to lead on their Contact Us page.
Web to lead for downloadable web content.
The fact that many companies don’t do this means they are not generating leads as efficiently as they should.
The result is fewer leads, and less sales-ready opportunities.
Yet web to lead is quick and easy to do. Read on to discover the benefits. Then have your system administrator implement these quick wins today.
1. Web To Lead ‘Contact Us’ page
I doubt there is a business that doesn’t have a Contact Us page on their web site.
But many companies that own salesforce licenses are missing a trick. They are not using web to lead on their Contact Us page.
Instead, they have the prospect fill in a form. Then they send the form details to an email address. (Or even worse, they simply invite the prospect to send an email to info@). This means it is more time consuming, and requires more effort, to respond to the enquiry.
A salesforce web to lead form is a quick win in this situation. Here are five reasons you should be using web to lead on your Contact Us page.
Populate the lead information into salesforce without any extra effort. No re-keying of data involved.
Automatically send an acknowledgement email. Let the prospect know you have received her enquiry.
Immediately assign the new lead to someone qualified to deal with the enquiry. I’ve commented below on who the right person might be.
Alert the person to whom you have sent the lead with an automated email.
Capture hidden information that will improve your marketing metrics. For example, link the lead to a relevant Campaign. Automatically set the Lead Source field.
I’ve helped hundreds of companies improve their lead process. And in every case, I’ve found that the quicker you respond to a new lead, the higher the chance of a successful outcome.
These probably ring true in your own experience.
Web to lead means you get the information into salesforce, acknowledge the customer and assign the lead to the right person, all in the blink of an eye.
Who is the right person to receive Contact Us enquiries?
Often the immediate response is to assign web to lead prospects to a salesperson.
But hold on. That might not be the best way. Here’s why.
Salespeople are busy dealing with opportunities. Which is the way you want it. Most salespeople will see a new web lead as lower priority than an open opportunity. That may mean a slower response.
Salespeople are often out in the field. Speed is of the essence. You need to respond to the web to lead prospect quickly. Leaving the response until the salesperson has downtime is a sure-fire way to neglect new leads.
The new enquiry may not be a sales lead. It may be a technical query, vendor approach, potential employee or even spam. Have someone qualify and validate new enquiries. Then, when the person is sales-ready, assign the lead to a salesperson.
In many businesses, web to lead prospects are immediately assigned to an inside salesperson, telemarketer or marketing employee.
This person qualifies the lead. He may also add additional company or person-specific information. In short, assign qualified leads to salespeople. Deal with all other enquiries in a different way.
Don’t think you can only have one web to lead Contact Us form on your web site. You can have as many as you like.
For example, if your web site is in multiple languages, create a different web to lead form for each language. Send the acknowledgement email based on the language of the form.
Even if the site is in a single language, you may still have many different pages in which the customer can get in touch.
In that case, you’ve two choices. Use the same web to lead form in each location. Or go the extra mile – create a different web to lead form in each case. That way you can set the Lead Source field differently for each form. It’s an easy way to understand where your sales enquiries are coming from.
So that’s the first quick win. Get a web to lead form set up on your Contact Us page today. As always, if you need some help, go to our own Contact Us page and we’ll answer your question. Quickly, I hope!
2. Web to lead for content download
Here’s the second quick win you can implement easily using web to lead.
Use web to lead to manage content downloads on your web site.
The days of the salesperson being in charge of the flow of information with a prospect are long gone. Nowadays, with any important buying decision, prospects expect to conduct their own extensive web research. They do this research long before they’re ready to speak to a salesperson.
Businesses that generate revenue efficiently have acknowledged the buying process has changed.
Efficient revenue generation means helping prospects conduct this preliminary research. This builds trust, credibility and engagement with prospects. This happens long before a dialogue has started between the salesperson and her prospect.
Downloadable content on your web site can include eBooks, case studies, white papers, checklists and other useful material.
But here’s the thing. You can ‘sell’ your best content. The price? The cost of an email address.
The post gives extensive advice on using salesforce dashboards to improve visibility of the sales pipeline and sales performance.
It includes videos that demonstrate the 12 charts that we think are critical in any business. There are extensive links to related pages on our web site that give more information on each dashboard chart.
You can also download the accompanying eBook. It’s a high quality, comprehensive resource. So we charge for it. The price is an email address.
Here’s what we don’t then do. Immediately jump down their throat. Rather, we use an email nurture program to invite the prospect to look at our other content. Many people do. And some of those people subsequently engage with us on a commercial basis.
It’s an efficient and effective way to generate revenue, with the prospect being in charge of the purchasing process. Of course, to understand how this approach can apply in your own business you know what to do by now – visit our Contact Us page.
Use web to lead for content download
Here’s how it works.
Set up a web to lead form to capture the email address. Then, when the prospect completes the form, immediately send her an email that she can use to download the content.
That way, you validate that the email address is legitimate. It also means you capture all the details in salesforce. This includes linking the lead to a marketing campaign and setting the lead source.
You can implement this quick win today.
How to set up web to lead
There’s a wizard in salesforce to help system administrators set up web to lead. You’ll find it under Setup, Customize, Leads, Web-to-Lead.
Use this wizard to create the code for your web form. Then get the person that looks after your website to deploy the form on your web site.
Don’t get bogged down with it. If you need some help or advice just get in touch.
Framework agreements exist in virtually every industry.
They are the backbone of many commercial relationships. If you want a long-term relationship with a customer, then get a framework agreement in place.
So naturally, you want to manage framework agreements in salesforce.
Yet companies often struggle to do this.
“We’ve made a dog’s breakfast of it”, as one prospect told me recently.
They weren’t wrong.
So, here’s what you need. The definitive guide to managing framework agreements in salesforce.
Types of Framework Agreement
To manage framework agreements in salesforce effectively, you first have to decide which type of framework you are dealing with. Here are four types of framework agreement you can manage in salesforce.
License to Hunt.
(If you have a different type of framework agreement, let us know. We’ll figure out how to manage it in salesforce).
1. Drawdown Framework Agreements
Customers ‘drawdown’ a quantity of products against an overall assumed volume.
Often, at the start of the agreement, there is an assumed order quantity each month. In practice, the actual order quantity can often vary from month to month.
Drawdown framework agreements are common in many industries.
For example, based in Greensboro, NC, Gilbarco Veeder Root finalizes a drawdown framework agreement with a petrol retailer for the purchase of a large quantity of petrol pumps.
The agreement defines the products and pricing, commercial arrangements and legal terms of the contract.
The petrol retailer does not want to receive all the pumps in one go. There may be a written minimum and maximum order quantity each month. However, progress on their gas station re-fit programme will determine the actual quantity ordered each month.
2. Regular Order Framework Agreements
Companies that sell large volumes of relatively small-ticket items or consumables often use transactional framework agreements.
The customer places regular orders when they need to re-stock. Often, the customer does this directly via an online portal.
For example, in the UK, Zimmer Biomet sell a variety of consumable products to dental practices.
Zimmer Biomet enters into a framework agreement with the dentist. This agreement specifies the price for each product, together with the support and other services provided by Zimmer Biomet.
The dental practices place orders every few weeks using the Zimmer Biomet ERP portal. This streamlines the end-to-end process of packing, shipping and invoicing each order.
3. Occasional Order Framework Agreements
With these framework agreements, customers place occasional, rather than regular orders.
These occasional orders are often significant in size. The framework agreement covers the commercial terms and over-arching legal terms. However, a separate specification and agreement defines the specific products and services within each order.
Based in Malta, Evolve provide products and services to fit and equip a wide variety of medical laboratories.
Fitting-out each new laboratory is a significant undertaking. A framework agreement is set up with a pharmaceutical company or government department. This agreement defines the pricing and other terms that apply to each contract within the framework agreement.
However, no two laboratories are alike. Each order requires consultancy and detailed collaboration with the customer to define the specific products and services that are required. A separate contract, under the umbrella of the framework agreement, defines the agreed work.
4. License To Hunt Framework Agreements
A license to hunt framework agreement gives one party the permission to seek-out deals elsewhere in the organization or group of companies.
It’s a common agreement in financial services and many other industries.
For example, based in the UK, Hornbuckle Mitchell provide financial services to brokers. They can secure a license to hunt framework agreement in two ways.
First, within a large multi-branch brokerage, the head office team will make framework agreements with selected providers in each market category. This gives Hornbuckle Mitchell permission to visit the branches and convince individual brokers to use their products.
Second, Hornbuckle Mitchell makes framework agreements with buying groups. These financial services buying groups make framework agreements on behalf of many small brokers. The agreements cover fees, training, regulatory services and more. The license to hunt gives Hornbuckle Mitchell permission to visit the members of the buying group to promote their financial products.
How To Manage Framework Agreements in Salesforce
Here’s how to manage each of the four types of framework agreement in salesforce.
1. Drawdown Framework Agreements In Salesforce
Products, combined with standard or custom schedules, are the key to managing drawdown framework agreements in salesforce.
Create an Opportunity to represent the potential framework agreement. Add Products to the Opportunity to represent the physical goods and intangible services you anticipate the customer purchasing during the lifetime of the framework agreement. (Consider using the GSP Product Selection Wizard to make it easy to add Products to Quotes or Opportunities in salesforce).
Then, for each Product create a schedule that describes how the products and services will be drawdown.
Let’s use an example to illustrate this. Assume the customer anticipates purchasing 216 generators over a 12-month period. To make it easy, we assume each generator costs $1000.
The opportunity has a ‘gross’ value of $216,000 (216 x $1000). That’s the figure in the Amount field.
From gross sales perspective, the deal is worth $216,000. However, that’s only half the story.
Forecast Revenue On Drawdown Agreements
We can use revenue schedules to forecast the month-on-month order value.
Revenue schedules project the anticipated income over an extended period. Create a revenue schedule for each product on your opportunity.
This means we get an accurate view of the revenue contribution from each opportunity, over time.
Using our example, we might assume that on average, the customer will drawdown generators to the value of $18,000 per month.
Optionally, you can adjust the revenue schedule for this month based on the actual value of orders placed. At the same time, you can also update the forecast for future months, based on your latest information from the customer.
You can use a similar approach to forecast the quantity of products the customer will draw-down each month.
Don’t forget you can also use the GSP Schedule Shifter to keep the Opportunity Close Date aligned with your schedules.
Auto Adjust Product Schedules To Match Close Date Changes
The standard revenue schedule functionality in salesforce works well for many of our customers.
But not all.
The problem is the standard feature is not very flexible. You can’t, for example, track the Status of each schedule – Not Ordered, Ordered, Invoiced, Paid.
To do this, you need custom schedules. These give considerable flexibility for revenue and quantity forecasting on framework agreements in salesforce. This has even included s-curve revenue forecasting for some clients.
2. Manage Regular Order Framework Agreements in Salesforce
‘Regular order’ framework agreements in salesforce also need an opportunity.
But this time, the opportunity serves a different purpose. It represents the process of getting a potential customer onto the books.
In other words, the opportunity has a notional value. No orders are placed and no money changes hands on the day the deal is done.
Rather, there is an expectation that the customer will begin placing a flow of regular orders.
The customer will require regular account management. However, there’s no sales process required for each order.
So, here’s what you don’t want to do. Create an opportunity for each new order. Rather, use a custom object to track all the orders that get placed.
At Zimmer Biomet, customers place orders using a portal that gives access to the ERP system. Integration with the ERP system inserts these orders – and associated invoices – into custom objects in salesforce.
It wasn’t always this way, though. Initially, Zimmer Biomet extracted the orders into a spreadsheet each week. The orders were imported into salesforce using the Data Loader. It just goes to show, one person’s integration is another’s import wizard!
Either way, account managers have great visibility of the trend in orders for each customer.
Zimmer Biomet uses this information to segment customers, drive business development activity and implement marketing campaigns. They also measure account management performance, not on opportunities, but on the quantity and value of orders placed by the customer.
Here’s one more thing they do.
All information about the rationale for any discount is stored in the Chatter feed, directly on the Opportunity. This means it is easily available in the future – certainly compared to hunting for a long lost email.
The reason is this. A large volume of promised future orders may justify a discount. The customer may fall short of this volume. At the very least, you need to know this when it comes to re-negotiating the framework agreement. Storing all the rationale for the original discount in the Chatter feed keeps this information visible and easy to find at the appropriate time.
3. Manage Occasional Order Framework Agreements in Salesforce
Manage the sales process of getting a customer to the point of signature on an occasional order framework agreement by using an opportunity in salesforce.
With this type of framework agreement, there is sometimes an initial order or project to fulfil. However, the key thing is both parties take the opportunity to put a framework agreement in place that will cover future deals.
So far, it’s not dissimilar to the way regular order framework agreements are managed in salesforce.
However, unlike regular order agreements, there’s no expectation of a weekly or monthly flow of relatively small orders. Rather, you need to work proactively with the customer to identify new projects and opportunities.
Unlike regular order framework agreements, manage these future orders through separate opportunities in salesforce. That’s because each one needs its own dedicated sales process.
Here’s another thing.
Often, the framework agreement will define a specific set of product prices that will apply to future opportunities. This means you create a special Price Book, just for that customer.
The Auto Price Book Selector is an effective – and free – way to make sure salespeople consistently apply the right Price Book to the right Price Books
4. Manage License To Hunt Framework Agreements in Salesforce
Manage these framework agreements in salesforce in a similar way to the ‘occasional order’ agreements.
Use an opportunity to manage the sales process of getting the overall framework agreement secured. This opportunity can have a notional value, based on the 12 month or long term anticipated value of related deals.
Be sure, though, to exclude these type of opportunities from your pipeline of ‘paying’ opportunities.
Once the framework agreement is in place, create a separate opportunity in salesforce for the Accounts you are working.
So there you have it. 4 types of framework agreement to manage in salesforce. Don’t make a dog’s breakfast of it. Decide first which type of framework agreement you’re working with. Then follow the advice above – or – for a free 30 minute free consultation on managing framework agreeents in salesforce, follow the link below.
Free 30 minute consultation on framework agreements
Last week we explained how Tony Richards now creates effective Call Lists in salesforce.
But who should Tony and his team call? And when?
The answer is that Tony manages sales call frequency in salesforce. Here are five examples of how Tony does that.
1. Territory Management Sales Call Frequency
We often start with good intentions. We’ll call this customer once a week. This one, once a month. And this one, once a quarter.
But those best of intentions can quickly go out of the window.
We lose track of which Accounts to call and when they need sales calls.
And it quickly becomes impossible to track whether our team is adhering to the call frequency plan.
Let’s say you are a medical equipment provider and have 2,000 dental customers in your territory. It’s not possible to visit them all. Even if you could, it would not necessarily be an effective use of time and effort.
Zimmer Biomet is a world-class leader in the manufacture of medical devices and consumables. Like many companies, they have an Inside Account Management team to look after these relationships.
Here’s how they manage sales call frequency in salesforce.
A field on the Account, Call Frequency, defines how often the customer or prospect is be called. The options are weekly, monthly, fortnightly, quarterly, six monthly and annual.
After each call, the Inside Account Manager logs a phone call or web meeting activity in salesforce. The Next Activity Due Date populates automatically, based on the Call Frequency picklist.
In other words, Zimmer Biomet drives the process by calling customers and prospects at the right time using a small amount of automation.
Reports and dashboard charts provide team leaders and managers with robust information on the number of calls made; and the number due to made.
The result is the Inside Account Management team focus on what people do best – delivering high quality, value-adding calls to customers and prospects. Let the system do what it does best – automating the process.
2. Sales Call Frequency on Campaigns
Get the sales call frequency right on Campaigns and you significantly improve marketing return-on-investment.
For example, let’s say you’re running an event or a webinar. You have a list of people that have expressed interest in the topic. Perhaps they downloaded an eBook or whitepaper previously. Or the event relates to products and services they have already bought.
There are four points in the process at which you might make a phone call.
To invitees. After you have sent the invitation email, you make a follow up call to the customer.
To registrants. You make a pre-event call. Remind the people that have registered of the details, find out if they have any specific issues they would like the event to address.
To attendees. After the event, you follow up with everyone that attended.
To no shows. After the event, you follow up with everyone that said they would come, but didn’t turn up.
Think about this for a moment. The relationship between an individual person and your event changes over time. For example, you might define the following relationships:
Not Sent. You have identified the person as a potential attendee, but not sent the invite.
Sent. Invitation sent to the customer.
Attending. The person has registered to attend.
Attended. The person came to your event.
No Show. They registered, but didn’t show up on the day.
Declined. She wanted to come, but said in advance she couldn’t make it on the day.
Unsubscribed. “Don’t bother me with this sort of thing again!”
To get the right sales call frequency, you need a list of people that are in each category at any point in time. In other words, you need people whose relationship with the event is currently either Sent, Attending, Attended or No Show.
Use the Campaign Members function to create the relevant call lists.
In the Classic salesforce user interface, you set these Status values by clicking on the Advanced Setup button on the Campaign.
Instructions for managing Campaign Member Status in Lightning can be found here.
Use Campaign Members to manage sales call frequency in salesforce. This little-known gem is the hidden secret to radically improving your marketing ROI.
“Let the sales people do what they do best – delivering high quality, value-adding calls to customers and prospects. Let the system do what it does best – automating the process.”
3. Sales Call Frequency To Follow Up Promises
We frequently make promises when we have a phone conversation.
We promise to the customer that we will call back at a certain time. Or we promise to ourselves that we’ll circle back on a given day.
Fulfilling these promises means managing our sales call frequency effectively.
The best way to start this process is to use the Log A Call button.
The Log A Call button lets you do two things.
Make a note on the conversation you’ve just had.
Create a follow up Task.
So far so good. But how do you manage call frequency based on these promised, future actions?
The secret is to work from your Home page.
The Home page lists the calls you have promised to make. Use the filter on the right to list these calls for specific periods.
The Home page is a simple but effective way to manage your sales call frequency and keep your promises.
4. Sales Call Frequency On Pipeline Opportunities
Sometimes there’s no substitute for getting on the phone and following up your open opportunities.
So how do you manage sales call frequency on these opportunities?
Simple. Create a List View on Opportunities. Include a filter on the Close Date. For example, Close Date equals This Month.
Next, manage your sales call frequency in the Sales Console.
The Sales Console allows salespeople to open multiple mini-tabs. This remains open whilst they make attempts through the morning to contact the prospect. Have the conversation, use the Log-A-Call button to make notes and create the follow-up Task. Then close the mini-tab.
5. Sales Call Frequency By Cherry Picking Leads
Many businesses have a large volume of Leads. It’s impossible to call them all.
So which fit into your sales call frequency plan?
The (ideal) secret to managing sales call frequency on new Leads is to use a marketing automation tool such as Marketo or Pardot.
These applications have advanced lead scoring, nurturing and tracking capabilities. They enable sophisticated sales call frequency plans to be created. Base these on the extent to which your lead has interacted with your web site, marketing campaigns and other activities.
If you don’t have an advanced marketing automation tool then try the next level down. Many mass email tools such as DotMailer have robust integration with salesforce. Create your sales call frequency plan based on whether the lead opened your email and clicked through to the web site.
Even if you don’t have a mass email application, you can still manage call frequency in salesforce. For example, create a Call List that identifies everyone that downloaded an eBook or whitepaper.
So, we’ve explained Tony’s 5 secrets to effective sales call frequency in salesforce.
Of course, don’t forget to register for a free 30 minute consultation if you’d like guidance on how to implement any of the advice in this blog into your own business.
“That’s the dashboard for me”, thought Colin. “Especially the Pipeline by Stage and Month.”
So Colin had his system administrator install the dashboard from the AppExchange.
But there was a problem.
The most important dashboard chart didn’t look like the beautiful example in our blog post.
Colin’s was, well, to put it frankly, a mess. It was full of deals with opportunity close dates in the past.
“It looked more like an old washing line”, said Colin.
This meant Colin didn’t get the pipeline visibility he craved. The opportunity close dates in the past destroyed the benefits the chart brings. And Colin couldn’t tell which deals were still alive and which had been lost.
So Colin called us up. Asked what he should do. We were happy to help. Here’s what we said.
We explained to Colin that there are two sides to the problem.
Existing deals with opportunity close dates in the past. Colin needs to sort out the existing opportunities with a close date in the past. We told him there are five ways this can be done and explained when each approach is appropriate.
Colin needs to stop the ‘opportunity close dates in the past problem’ from recurring again.
So, here’s what Colin did to solve the problem. And what he’s doing now to stop it happening again.
If your pipeline chart looks like an old washing line, you can easily do the same.
Fix the immediate ‘Close Dates in the past’ problem
You have five options for dealing with the problem of opportunities with close dates in the past.
1. Go through the opportunities one by one yourself
Update the Close Date on each opportunity.
At the same time, change the Opportunity Stage for deals that should no longer be in the sales pipeline. For example, change the Opportunity Stage to Closed Won or Closed Lost.
This approach is appropriate when:
There’s a relatively small number of opportunities.
Accurately updating each opportunity with a close date in the past is important.
You’re prepared to do the work yourself (or can’t get anyone else to do it).
2. Mass update all opportunities to Closed Won or Closed Lost
This is the broad-brush approach. Simply set all opportunities with a close date in the past to Won or Lost.
You can do it with a little more subtlety though. For example, mass update all opportunities where the close date is more than one year in the past.
To do this you can use a List View to update many opportunities at the same time. (Tip: If you use Opportunity Record Types then filter the List Views by record type in order to perform mass updates).
This approach is appropriate when:
The accuracy of opportunities with close dates in the past doesn’t matter too much.
There are far too many opportunities to go through one by one.
You are prepared to sacrifice the accuracy of historic sales performance reports.
3. Get salespeople to update their own opportunities
This is a variation of option 1.
Get the Opportunity Owners to do their own dirty work. Have them go through their opportunities and update the Close Dates and (where appropriate) the Opportunity Stage.
This approach is appropriate when:
The accuracy of reports and charts that track historic sales performance is important.
There are viable opportunities that have close dates in the past.
It is a worthwhile investment in time for salespeople to review out of date opportunities.
4. Mass update all Close Dates in the past to a future date
Take all the out-of-date opportunities that are still open and give them a close date in the future.
Then you – or the sales team – take time to update each opportunity accurately.
This approach is appropriate when:
There are live or viable opportunities with close dates in the past.
No one has the time to sort them out right now.
Until the opportunities are reviewed, you are prepared to accept that the pipeline chart will contain lost or dormant deals.
5. Sweep the problem under the carpet
Modify the report that underpins the dashboard chart. Change the Close Date ‘From’ value so it only includes opportunities where the close date is greater than a specific point in time.
For example, you might filter the report to show opportunities with a Close Date ‘From’ the first day of this month. That means there will only be a relatively small number of opportunities on the report with close dates in the past. Just sort those out and ignore the rest.
This approach is appropriate when:
It is unlikely anyone will get around to updating out-of-date opportunities.
The pipeline chart will be based only on opportunities with close dates greater than the date you have chosen – and you are prepared to accept this.
Your system administrator acknowledges that all dashboard pipeline reports will need to incorporate the fixed ‘From’ date.
Optionally, combine some of these options.
For example, you might do a mass that sets opportunities with a close date of more than one year ago, to Closed Lost.
Then, update the remainder so they have a Close Date in the future. Have salespeople go through these deals one by one to pick out the viable deals.
Stop the ‘close dates in the past’ problem from recurring
If the pipeline chart contains deals with Close Dates in the past then you lack clear pipeline visibility.
That means you can’t get an accurate revenue forecast. And it is impossible to know whether you have enough pipeline, to meet future sales targets.
Here are four ways you stop the problem happening again.
1. Avoid sloppy management
Proactive sales management means being on top of the pipeline. In that case, there shouldn’t be any deals with close dates in the past. Simple as that.
Good sales management means the sales pipeline is well maintained. It gives sales managers the key information they need to conduct funnel reviews at all times.
2. Coach salespeople to self-manage their pipeline
Sloppy sales management is only part of the story.
Effective salespeople don’t allow their pipelines to become out of date.
Salespeople need to understand the importance of keeping the Close Dates and Opportunity Stages accurate. That means each person has an accurate view of his or her pipeline.
3. Create an alert when the Close Date is today
Use workflow to create an email alert when an Opportunity is due to close today. This draws the salesperson’s attention to the deal so that they update it.
Optionally, trigger the alert when the Close Date is tomorrow.
This is a useful technique when you need to emphasize the importance of keeping deals up to date. Ideally, salespeople self-manage their pipeline and using dashboard charts tailored to their needs.
But, if you want to draw more attention to deals that need to be updated, then this is one way to do it.
4. Use a validation rule
A validation rule kicks-in when a salesperson makes a change to an opportunity. If the close date is in the past, this prevents the opportunity saving.
Effectively, it means the salesperson has to update the close date in order to make any change.
This solution is often implemented by companies that have a problem with close dates. However, I’m not the greatest fan.
The validation rule approach doesn’t actually prevent the problem from occurring. If the opportunity is not updated (which, given that the close date is in the past suggests is the case) then it won’t prevent close dates from drifting into the past.
The most effective approach is to apply good sales management practice and have salespeople take pride in the accuracy of their individual funnels.
How Colin solved his close dates in the past problem
Colin had several hundred opportunities with close dates in the past.
Here’s what he did.
Colin used an Opportunity List View to quickly identify deals he knew for sure had been won. He updated them on the salesperson’s behalf to Closed Won.
Then he set all deals more than a year old to Closed Lost. Some of these deals were probably won. However, as the opportunity was out of date, it’s likely many were lost. Colin accepted the risk of inaccuracy in historic reports.
He assigned two hours one Friday afternoon. Each salesperson reviewed and updated their own opportunities during this time. A number of dormant opportunities were re-energized as a result of this focused review.
Colin explained to his team managers the importance of good pipeline management.
Colin played this video at his team meeting. The video and blog post gave managers valuable insight into how to use the dashboard chart to manage the pipeline effectively.
Colin had every sales manager explain the importance to salespeople at local sales team meetings.
He mandated a review of the Open Opportunities by Stage dashboard chart at every sales meeting.
Colin got his system administrator to create a second version of the sales dashboard. This runs on ‘My Opportunities’. The sales managers educated each salesperson on how to use the dashboard to analyze their own pipeline and sales performance.
The result? Colin gets a robust view of the company sales pipeline. Now, he accurately identifies the action sales people and managers need to take to boost revenue. And it means Colin is confident of making is quota.
“Now, this truly is the dashboard chart for me”, says Colin.
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.
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.
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.
Which is why it’s important to track activities. Especially the number and quality of activities on key accounts.
Key accounts are the customers and prospects you prioritize for time, resources, energy and business development activity. They are the accounts with whom you have the most valuable existing or potential relationships. These are the accounts you cannot afford to neglect.
Yet these ARE often neglected accounts. Day-to-day work gets in the way. We visit customers with whom we have the warmest relationships. We avoid those with the biggest challenges. We put off until tomorrow more difficult work.
So here are 5 recommendations refocus on neglected accounts. Especially those customers and prospects that are key accounts.
Recommendation 1 – Define Key Accounts
You can’t make sure that key accounts are not neglected accounts unless you’ve defined them.
The easiest and most effective way to do this is to use a simple picklist field on the Account. This picklist value defines the segment for each Account.
Account segmentation picklist values
The picklist values can be anything you want. High, Medium and Low Priority if that suits you.
Some of our customers use a more imaginative approach. In particular, several use the relationship management segmentation recommended by Andrew Sobel (Expert For Hire, Steady Supplier, Strategic Partner).
There’s key difference between this segmentation approach and most others. The segments describe the customers’ perception of their relationship with you. Most segmentation techniques work the other way round. They use terms that explain how the supplier perceives the customer.
Here are the values Sobel suggests:
Expert For Hire. These customers know who you are and what you do. They know how to contact you if they need help.
Steady Supplier. You work regularly with these customers. They like what you do. The customers usually don’t ask for quotes from competitors; they simply ask you for a price. In many businesses, large numbers of customers fall into this category.
Strategic Partner. These are the small number of companies with whom you have super-high value, long-term relationships. You add value beyond the scope of the direct products and services your company provides. You have strong and deep relationships at all levels in the organization.
Strategic Partners are small in number but high in value. They are your key accounts. They are the accounts with whom you must have an entirely disproportionate number of activities. You may have framework agreements established with many of these accounts. Whatever else happens, strategic partners must not become neglected accounts.
Steady Supplier relationships need salesperson activity. They must not become neglected accounts either. Like Strategic Partners, many require their own, dedicated account management plans in salesforce. On the other hand, only those that you aim to migrate to Strategic Partners require deep, intense activity.
Expert For Hire relationships require less management. Nevertheless, they still need planned activity in order not to become neglected accounts.
Recommendation 2 – Report on Activities by Account Segment
Every dashboard should have a chart and underlying report that describes the number of activities completed by each salesperson. It’s chart number 10 on the GSP Sales Dashboard that you can download for free from the AppExchange.
Here’s an example of this salesforce dashboard chart and report look like.
Extend this dashboard chart to show the number of activities by account segment. This chart shows whether salespeople are focusing activity on where it matters most.
In our example, we can see that the North region is working extensively with Strategic Partners. Relatively little activity is taking place on Expert For Hire accounts.
The situation is completely different in the East. In the West there are no activities at all on Strategic Partners.
Are the Strategic Partner customers in the East and West region neglected accounts? Does the West have any Strategic Partner accounts in any case? Are Expert For Hire customers in the North neglected accounts? Does the South region need to increase the number of activities on Steady Suppliers?
Only you know the answer to these questions in the context of your business and its customers.
The chart and report means you the information needed to review the focus of activities in your business. It’s the starting point to determine whether you have important neglected accounts.
Recommendation 3 – Frequency of Engagement on key accounts
The report in Recommendation 2 shows how salespeople and territories are focusing their activities.
The Frequency of Engagement report explains whether individual accounts are getting the attention they deserve. It identifies potential neglected accounts on an account-by-account basis.
Here’s an example.
The report shows the number of activities on each key account. Here’s how you might use the report:
Aethna Home Products looks like a neglected account. There were two activities in January but nothing in February or March.
Coeus Solutions had lots of activity in January and February. But there’s nothing in March. Is it in danger of becoming a neglected account?
Fourth Coffee was identified as a neglected account at the start of the year. But things have picked up since.
Genepoint also looks like a neglected account. If this is truly a key relationship then we need a remedial action plan.
And so on. You get the idea.
Recommendation 4 – Last Activity Report to highlight Neglected Accounts
There’s an easy way to spot neglected accounts. Run a report that shows the Last Activity Date.
Here’s what the Last Activity Date report looks like displayed on a salesforce dashboard table.
It’s easy to spot that Aethna Home Products and Dubai Beach Hotels are neglected accounts.
Use the conditional highlighting on the dashboard table to draw the eye to potential neglected accounts. Limit the table to the top 10 results, ranked by the number of days since the last completed activity.
Remember that this type of chart and report do not only need to work at the overall company level. Each territory, team and individual salesperson should have a list of key accounts. The accounts on that list shouldn’t fall into the neglected account category. So insist on the same level of reporting at each successive level in the sales organization.
Recommendation 5 – Conduct key account planning in salesforce
If key customers and prospects are to avoid becoming neglected accounts then they need proactive, robust management plans.
All your customers and prospects are in salesforce. So salesforce is the logical place to create and maintain those plans. Here’s an example of how to do it.
Have your system administrator create a custom object, Key Account Plan. Link it to the Account object. Then create the fields you need to record the details of the plan.
These fields are likely to include Owner, To / From dates, Objectives, Stakeholder Management Plan, Internal Support Required and so on.
Then, if you want to go one step further, have someone create the code that automatically links Opportunities to the Key Account Plan.
Here’s an example of what that looks like.
In this case, the fields describing the account plan detail are blank simply to get the whole image onto the page.
This is powerful information. By linking the Opportunities to the Key Account Plan we have immediate, visual information on whether we are on track with the revenue target for this customer.
No business needs neglected accounts. At least not accounts that you hope to do business with in the future.
The segmentation approach, reports and account planning approach we have described in this blog mean you can avoid neglecting accounts.
Here are some things you can also do:
Download the GSP Sales Dashboard. This free dashboard gives robust visibility of sales performance and the sales pipeline. You can adapt the Activity report to run on the Account Segmentation field used in your business.
Download the accompanying eBook. This eBook describes each of the 12 Charts That Should Be On Your Salesforce Dashboard and how to use them to drive sales performance.
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.
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.
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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