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Broken lead process in salesforce? Here’s how to fix it

Broken lead process in salesforce? Here’s how to fix it

You probably don’t remember Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

It’s a surreal comedy group from the 1970’s. It’s how John Cleese and Michael Palin first made their name.

In one famous sketch, Palin arrives at the Argument Clinic or for an argument. Cleese is happy to oblige. They go round in circles, arguing the same point over.

You can recreate a similar scene.

Ask a room full of Sales and Marketing people agree how the lead process should work in salesforce.

You’re guaranteed a bun fight.

I’ve run hundreds of salesforce implementation workshops. And here’s something I’ve experienced. No subject causes more debate than that surrounding the lead process.

Yet, resolving this debate is critical to an effective lead process in salesforce. Unfortunately, often that doesn’t happen with clarity.

The outcome is an ineffective lead process. That means ineffective lead qualification, reduced revenue and poor marketing and sales performance information.

Let’s understand what causes this debate. Then we will define a lead process in salesforce.

(By the way, don’t forget, you can download the lead process diagrams used in this article).

Difference between a lead and an opportunity

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.

Lead process diagram for qualifying a new Lead.

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?

Click the Find Duplicates button on the Lead page layout to find matching leads

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.

Lead process diagram for qualifying a lead with match to existing lead.

  • 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.

Click the Find Duplicates button to find Leads that match.

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.

Lead process diagram for lead qualification with match to existing account or contact.

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. Period.

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.

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2 Quick Wins Using Web To Lead You Can Implement Today

2 Quick Wins Using Web To Lead You Can Implement Today

Here are two quick wins using web to lead that many companies overlook:

  1. Web to lead on their Contact Us page.
  2. 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.

  1. Populate the lead information into salesforce without any extra effort. No re-keying of data involved.
  2. Automatically send an acknowledgement email. Let the prospect know you have received her enquiry.
  3. Immediately assign the new lead to someone qualified to deal with the enquiry. I’ve commented below on who the right person might be.
  4. Alert the person to whom you have sent the lead with an automated email.
  5. 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.

For more information on the process for dealing with web leads (including free process diagrams that you can download), review our blog post, The Difference Between A Lead and an Opportunity In Salesforce.

Multiple Contact Us pages

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.

Content download example

Look at our most popular blog post, 12 Charts That Should Be On Your Salesforce Dashboard.

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.

Related Blog Posts

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How To Manage 4 Types Of Framework Agreement In Salesforce

How To Manage 4 Types Of Framework Agreement In Salesforce

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.

  1. Drawdown.
  2. Regular Order.
  3. Occasional Order.
  4. 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.
Here’s how.

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.

Add products to the opportunity to represent the goods and services the customer will buy in the framework agreement.

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.

Use revenue schedules to forecast sales on framework agreements.

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

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For much more on using the standard revenue schedules in salesforce read 5 Killer Examples Of Recurring Revenue Forecasts In Salesforce.

Custom Schedules for revenue forecasting

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!

For more information on this topic, Import Orders Into Salesforce to Optimize Account Revenue.

Either way, account managers have great visibility of the trend in orders for each customer.

Orders and Invoices imported into salesforce gives account managers great visibility of the trends 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.

More tips on controlling price discounts using salesforce.

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.

Use the GSP Auto Price Book Selector to ensure this dedicated Price Book is applied to the customer (and not to any others).

Automatically Assign Price Books To Opportunities

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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.

Potentially, use Products and Schedules on these opportunities to define and forecast how the revenue will accrue over time.

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

Get in touch today

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Related Blog Posts

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

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

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

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

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

But there was a problem.

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

Salesforce dashboard chart showing opportunities by close date and stage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, here’s what Colin did to solve the problem. And what he’s doing 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

Here are the five options you have for dealing with opportunities that have 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. Set the Opportunity Stage to Closed Won or Closed Lost for deals that should no longer in the pipeline.

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. You simply set all opportunities with a close date in the past to Won or Lost.

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. (Administrator Tip: If you’re using Opportunity Record Types then you need to filter List Views by record type in order to perform mass updates).

This approach is appropriate when:

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

3. Get salespeople to update their own opportunities

This is a variation of option 1.

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

This approach is appropriate when:

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

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

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

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

This approach is appropriate when:

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

5. Sweep the problem under the carpet

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

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

This approach is appropriate when:

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

Optionally, combine some of these options.

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

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

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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

If the pipeline chart contains deals with Close Dates in the past then you have a lack of 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 can stop the problem happening again, after you have fixed it.

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 on self-managing 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. The idea is to draw 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 should be self-managing 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. But I’m not the greatest fan.

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

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

How Colin solved his close dates in the past problem

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

Here’s what he did.

  1. Colin used an Opportunity List View to quickly identify deals he knew for sure had been won. He updated them on the salesperson’s behalf to Closed Won.
  2. Then he set all deals more than a year old to Closed Lost. Some of these deals were probably won, Colin accepted. That there was no update, suggests many had been lost, however. Colin accepted that risk of inacuracy in historic reports.
  3. He assigned two hours on Friday afternoon. Each salesperson reviewed and updated their own opportunities during this time. A number of dormant opportunities were re-energised as a result.
  4. Colin explained to his team managers the importance of good pipeline management.
  5. He had everyone read our blog post about the Open Opportunities by Stage and Month.
  6. Colin played this video at his team meeting. The video and blog post gave managers valuable insight into how to use the dashboard chart to manage the pipeline effectively.
  7. Colin had every sales manager explain the importance to salespeople at local sales team meetings.
  8. He mandated a review of the Open Opportunities by Stage dashboard chart at every sales meeting.
  9. Colin got his system administrator to create a second version of the sales dashboard. This runs on ‘My Opportunities’. The sales managers educated each salesperson on how to use the dashboard to analyze their own pipeline and sales performance.

The result? Colin got a robust view of the company sales pipeline. Now, he can accurately identify 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.

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If You Only Use One Sales Pipeline Chart In 2017, Make It This One!

If You Only Use One Sales Pipeline Chart In 2017, Make It This One!

Nothing more useful to a sales manager than a sales pipeline chart that gives a comprehensive view of the funnel.

That’s exactly what the Pipeline by Month and Opportunity Stage sales pipeline chart gives you.

It’s my absolute favourite in our 12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts. In fact, if I could only have one sales pipeline chart then it would be this one.

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.

This sales pipeline chart gives robust visibility of the funnel on a salesforce dashboard.

The chart shows the value of opportunities due to close each month. Within each month, we can see where those deals are in terms of the Opportunity Stage and the sales process.

Let’s assume we are in the middle of October right now.

We can see that in this month, there is £600k worth of Opportunities due to close. This value is split by the various Opportunity Stages. In salesforce, hover over each Stage for additional detail.

This is powerful information from a 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.

The sales pipeline chart shows the value of deals due to close this month, split by opportunity stage.

Those deals that are in Prospecting, for example. If our average sales cycle is three months, are we confident those deals on the sales pipeline chart will close this month? Should some of them be at a more advanced Stage? Do the close dates need to be moved to a later month? Have the close dates on some of this opportunities slipped from one month to another before?

The same with the Investigation and Proposal Made Stages. Are we really going to close these opportunities this month? If not, then our October pipeline is significantly over-inflated.

December pipeline strength

Let’s look at another month in the sales pipeline chart.

What about those deals in the negotiation stage in December? Is it really going to take us three months to close these deals? Is there anything we can do to bring them forward?

The sales pipeline chart shows deals scheduled to close in December.

In fact, looking at the sales pipeline chart for December, we have a lot of funnel value that’s due to close. But just how robust is that? Are these deals in December because the financial year of many customers ends that month? If so, we can legitimately expect many deals to get completed in the run up to Christmas?

Have many of the opportunities due to close in December been sitting in our pipeline for a long time? Have sales people entered December as the close date on the basis that (hopefully) the opportunity is “bound to be closed” sometime during the year?

If that is the case, then the December pipeline is nowhere near as strong as we might hope.

January pipeline strength

The sales pipeline chart shows there’s a dip in the size of the funnel in January.

The sales pipeline chart shows there's a dip in the size of the pipeline for January.

Is this due to legitimate seasonal variation? Or is it something we should be concerned about? As a sales manager, do I need to start organizing some marketing campaigns now, with a view to boosting the pipeline 3 or 4 months from now?

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Deals due to close before today

Let’s stick with our assumption that right now we’re in the middle of October.

What are these deals doing here on the sales pipeline chart? The ones with the close date in September.

Opportunities with a close date earlier than today are revealed on the sales pipeline chart.

Unless you have a time turner, these deals aren’t going to close in September!

But we see this very often. Open opportunities with close dates in the past. Either those deals have already closed and the opportunity stage hasn’t been updated. Or, the close date needs to be moved because they are still open.

A case in point. Colin Parish, VP of Sales at Moderna downloaded the dashboard package containing the sales pipeline chart. But Colin’s chart didn’t look like our beautiful example, based on his own sales data. That’s because Colin’s funnel was full of opportunities with close dates in the past. Read how Colin solved this problem.

Underlying report for the sales pipeline chart

Let’s go down to the underlying report.

The report provides more detail than we saw in the sales pipeline dashboard chart.

The report provides more detail than we saw in the sales pipeline dashboard chart. The report data shows the specific value of opportunities that are due to close by month, by each opportunity stage.

Like any other report, we can click on the Show Details button to see the underlying opportunities.

Like any other report, we can click on the Show Details button to see the underlying opportunities.

Now we can start to interrogate the individual opportunities that make up the chart and report data.

Right click on any opportunity to open it in a new tab. This way you can examine the individual opportunity details, whilst still retaining the open report.

Sales Pipeline Chart Video

The sales pipeline chart and underlying report give sales managers robust visibility of the funnel, in a meaningful and useful way.

And of course like any other chart, it doesn’t just need to be visible to managers. Team leaders and individual sales reps can manage their own pipeline, using this exact same sales pipeline chart.

In the video below I explain how to use the sales pipeline dashboard chart and the underlying pipeline report to manage the funnel effectively.

Create the Sales Pipeline Chart

If you don’t want to download the full 12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts, then here are step-by-step instructions for creating this salesforce dashboard pipeline chart and underling pipeline report.

  1. Start on the reports tab, click new report then select an Opportunities report.
  2. Adjust the basic filters. Set Opportunity Status to Open. Set the time Range to All Time.
  3. Set the Format to be a Matrix report by clicking on Tabular Format.
  4. On the left hand side chose Opportunity Stage.
  5. Across the top of the report chose Close Date. Adjust the date format to Group By calendar month.
  6. Pull the Amount field into the body of the report.
  7. Click on the Show link to remove the record count. Repeat the process to set the report to Hide Details.
  8. Run the report to check that it looks the way you expect.
  9. Now create a chart directly in the report. Click on Add Chart in the Customize section.
  10. Choose the vertical bar chart.
  11. On the Y axis select the Opportunity Amount.
  12. On the X axis select the Close Date.
  13. In the Group by, select Opportunity Stage.
  14. Now choose the stacked bar chart.
  15. Click on the Formatting tab. Put the legend below the chart. Enable the hover. And put the chart below the report.
  16. Now run the report and check your chart.
  17. Save the report (remember, not in your Personal Folder, no-one else will be able to see it).
  18. Click on the dashboard tab and select the dashboard to which you want to add the chart.
  19. Click on Edit on the Dashboard.
  20. Drag a bar chart from the left hand pane onto the dashboard.
  21. In the Data Sources tab, find the report you want to use for the dashboard. Drag it onto the component you’ve just added to the dashboard.
  22. Rather than creating a new chart within the dashboard, let’s pull in the chart we’ve already created on the report. Click on the spanner symbol on the chart. Tick the checkbox, ‘Use chart ad defined in source report’.
  23. Finally give it a header and a title so that people know exactly what they’re looking at.

If in doubt watch the video – I demonstrate fully how to create the report and dashboard chart.

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

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

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

Many result in multiple payments over time.

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

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

Here’s what happens if you do this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recurring opportunities with software as a service

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

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

Sidetrade doesn’t need recurring opportunities.

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

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

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

Recurring opportunities with insurance premiums

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

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

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

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

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

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Recurring opportunities with service contracts

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

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

The customer pays an annual fee for the support.

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

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

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

Recurring opportunities with Proof of Concepts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Framework agreements in salesforce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Points to consider when you need recurring opportunities

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

Points to consider when you don’t need recurring opportunities

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

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

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10 Illuminating Ways To Measure Closed Won Deals

10 Illuminating Ways To Measure Closed Won Deals

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

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

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

But wait a moment.

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

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

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

1. Closed Won by Month and Territory / Salesperson

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

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

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

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

Closed Won opportunities by individual salesperson by month.

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

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

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

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

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

2. Closed Won by Customer Type

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Closed Won by Account

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

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

This dashboard table provides that information.

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

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

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

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

4. Closed Won by Product

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Average deal size for closed won opportunities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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6. Conversion / Win Rates

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

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

Opportunity conversion rate dashboard chart in salesforce.

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Closed Won by Campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Key Sales Metrics for Closed Won Deals

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

Here are two of the key metrics:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Closed Won dashboard gauge

There’s no Target tab in salesforce.

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

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

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

Similar gauges can be maintained for individual territories and salespeople.

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

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

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

10. Stage Movement for Closed Won deals

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

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

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

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

What can we infer from these numbers?

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

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

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

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

Get the free pipeline management dashboard

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

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

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

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