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Your Sales Forecast Is Probably Wrong (So I’ve Written This Guide To Getting It Right)

Your Sales Forecast Is Probably Wrong (So I’ve Written This Guide To Getting It Right)

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Many sales managers struggle to create reliable sales forecasts.

In fact, many forecasts are wildly inaccurate.

Even (or especially) when the sales team is using a CRM system such as salesforce.

The trouble is gut feel just won’t cut it.

Nor will simply applying a top-down win rate to all opportunities.

Instead, what’s needed is a sales forecast that is robust and can stand up to scrutiny.

Sales forecasts must be robust and stand up to scrutiny.

That’s because often the sales forecast is shared with the company leadership, finance, peers and back-office colleagues. Other people depend upon a reliable revenue projection to do their own jobs properly.

Being wrong, month after month, doesn’t help anyone.

That said, sales forecasts don’t need to be perfect. But in many businesses, they need – and can – be a heck of a lot more reliable than they are at the moment.

About This Guide To Sales Forecasts

This guide is the most comprehensive online resource to creating reliable sales forecasts.

In this expert-written guide you’ll learn:

• Section 1: Why sales forecasts are often unreliable.
• Section 2: How to create a sales forecast report in salesforce.
• Section 3: How to improve forecasting accuracy using three key reports.
• Section 4: Which three opportunity metrics help identify the deals most likely to slip from your sales forecast.
• Section 5: Where to get the sales forecast template, reports, dashboard charts and metrics highlighted in this guide, all for free.

So, if you’re looking to improve the sales forecasting process in your company, you’ll love this guide.

By the way:

You don’t have to be using salesforce to get tremendous value from this guide. We are experts in salesforce so naturally, that’s what I’ve used to create the examples. However, you can apply the exact same sales forecasting methods to the CRM system in your business.

1.     Why Sales Forecasts Are Inaccurate

A sales forecast is an informed prediction of the revenue a sales team will achieve in a given period (e.g. the current month or quarter). It reflects the deals already won in the period plus an estimate of the sales pipeline that will close successfully in the time remaining.

But why do we go to all the trouble of creating sales forecasts in the first place?

It’s because reliable sales forecasts:

• Provide the executive team with advance information on the health of the business.
• Tell sales managers whether they have enough pipeline to meet quota.
• Help fulfilment, order processing, manufacturing and other teams to plan and operate efficiently.
• Enable finance executives to project capital requirements and cash flow with confidence.

Doubtless there are many other reasons, specific to your company.

However, in many businesses the revenue forecast is taken with a pinch of salt by the leadership team.

Often even the VP of Sales doesn’t believe them (although she wishes she could). And embarrassingly, she struggles to explain why they are so inaccurate.

 

Why many sales forecasts are unreliable

Here are the three most common reasons I’ve found that explain why many sales forecasts are unreliable.

• Deals slip from the forecast. Often this happens at the last minute. Sometimes the same deal has slipped at the last minute more than once.

Sometimes this occurs because salespeople are optimists. Deals they thought would happen, don’t.

Furthermore, in many businesses, salespeople are under pressure to maintain the size of the pipeline. Setting deals to Lost or removing them from the funnel, contradicts this pressure. Consequently, deals that no longer have legs stay in the pipeline but slip to the next month.

Unfortunately, sales forecasts are usually submitted before the month end. This means the forecast often contains many unreliable deals that end up slipping after the forecast is created.

• Deals appear out of nowhere. Sometimes this saves our bacon. Other times it simply makes the sales leader look silly.

In other words, sandbagging. Salespeople go out of their way to avoid management pressure on deals. For example, by keeping an important deal under the radar for as long as possible.

However, these deals simply don’t figure when creating the forecast.

• There’s no crystal ball that tells us which deals we’ll win and which we won’t. Or indeed when we’ll win them. After all is said and done, customer decision making is out of our hands.

If we knew in advance which deals we will win and which deals we will lose, then we’d save ourselves a lot of trouble. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try we’re still left with customer-driven uncertainty.

Sometimes we attempt to mask these uncertainties by asking salespeople to ‘Commit’ to deals. However, that’s like asking a soccer centre forward to commit to scoring a goal. We all know he’s trying. But there’s still a chance he’ll miss (a pretty good chance if he’s the centre forward on the team I support!).

If we want reliable sales forecasts we have to address these sources of unreliability in other ways. That’s what we’ll cover in Sections 3 and 4.

Before that, let’s examine how best to create a sales forecast in CRM systems such as salesforce.

2.     How To Create A Sales Forecast In Salesforce

What’s the best way to create a sales forecast in salesforce?

Answer:

Use an Expected Revenue Sales Forecast report.

The recommended way to create a sales forecast in salesforce is to use an Expected Revenue Sales Forecast report.
An Expected Revenue Sales Forecast report combines the revenue from Won deals with the weighted sales value from pipeline opportunities.

An Expected Revenue Sales Forecast report combines the revenue from Won deals with the weighted sales value from pipeline opportunities.

Sometimes the report includes filters that exclude certain deals (for example, those at a very early stage).

 

How the Expected Revenue Sales Forecast reports works

The report combines Won and Pipeline Opportunities.

For Won deals, 100% of the revenue contributes to the sales forecast.

For pipeline deals, however, the sales value of each opportunity is multiplied by the Opportunity Probability.

For example, a deal for $10,000 at 40% will have an Expected Revenue of $4,000. A Won opportunity for $20,000 will have an Opportunity Probability of 100% and an Expected Revenue of $20,000.

In other words, the Expected Revenue of any specific deal is the weighted value of the opportunity.

Incidentally, in some businesses the sales forecast does not reflect the total, gross value of the sales deal. That’s because the revenue from the deal spreads over time. The sales forecast is therefore the amount of scheduled revenue that will be achieved in the period.

If this is the case, then you need the GSP Scheduled Revenue app. However, the principles of Expected Revenue apply equally to sales forecasts based on scheduled revenue.

 

Why include Won deals in the forecast

Most sales forecasts relate to the current period; for example, this month or this quarter.

As such, the sales revenue we can expect is a combination of deals we’ve already won during the period; plus deals we expect to win.

That means we need to include won opportunities in the forecast.

 

Why use the Expected Revenue of pipeline opportunities

Some salespeople don’t like the idea of the Expected Revenue (or weighted revenue) of pipeline deals.

They argue opportunities are binary. We’ll either win it or we won’t. Take 100% of the sales value or zero dollars.

However, here’s the thing:

In any given period, you don’t categorically know which deals the sales team will win and which deals they will lose.

Let’s face it, if you knew which deals you were going to lose, you wouldn’t bother with them in the first place.

So it’s logical to take the weighted value of pipeline opportunities. That way we get a reliable total value of forecast sales.

Providing of course, the opportunity probability is reliable.

 

Entering reliable Opportunity probabilities

In salesforce, as with most other CRM systems, there’s a default Probability associated with each Opportunity Stage.

In salesforce, as with most other CRM systems, there’s a default Probability associated with each Opportunity Stage.

In other words, the probability is set automatically when the Stage is set.

 

Manually adjust opportunity probabilities

However, here’s something not everyone realises:

The Opportunity Probability can be manually adjusted. This is as true in salesforce as it is in all other CRM systems.

This means the salesperson can override the default probability for the Stage.

The Opportunity Probability can be manually adjusted. This is as true in salesforce as it is in all other CRM systems.  This means the salesperson can override the default probability for the Stage.
The Opportunity Probability can be manually adjusted. This is as true in salesforce as it is in all other CRM systems.  This means the salesperson can override the default probability for the Stage.

For example, the default Probability for Proposal Made might be 35%. Salesforce will automatically set this value for ALL opportunities at this Stage.

However, in reality the probability for a new customer might be lower. The probability for an existing, long-term strategic customer may be higher. So, we can manually adjust the probability when the default value isn’t appropriate.

 

Use workflow to adjust opportunity probabilities

Here’s another option.

Automatically adjust opportunity probabilities using pre-defined rules.

For example, use workflow rules to set the opportunity probability for strategic customers to 40% at the Proposal Made stage.

Naturally, you’re assuming the probabilities you pre-define in this way will be more accurate than those set by the sales team.

That may well be true for an inexperienced team. Or if you’re not confident salespeople will adjust the probability where appropriate.

 

Use the GSP Probability App

We’ve figured out how to get historic opportunity probability and velocity data out of salesforce.

In other words, we can retrospectively analyse all opportunities and calculate two things:

1. How long each opportunity spent at each stage. In other words, stage-by-stage pipeline velocity.
2. The percentage of all deals won or lost once they reached a given stage.

This is valuable information.

For example, at one manufacturing client we discovered that 23% of deals in Investigation were closed successfully for new customers. Yet for existing customers it was 33%.

Furthermore, we identified that these figures varied by +/- 6% across territories and individual salespeople.

The outcome is that in this company, opportunity probabilities are defined tightly now based on accurate, reliable historical statistical data.

This improvement led to a step-change in the reliability of sales forecasts.

If you want to measure pipeline velocity or analyse historical probability data in your company then get in touch.

 

How to get the Expected Revenue Sales Forecast report

You might be wondering:

Is there a simple way to get the Expected Revenue Sales Forecast report?

The easiest way is to install the GSP Sales Dashboard.

This free package includes all of the reports and sales metrics highlighted in our Sales Forecasting Guide.

Free GSP Sales Dashboard for salesforce includes the Expected Revenue Report and sales forecast template.

Awesome Pipeline and Sales Performance Visibility

Download the FREE Dashboard from the AppExchange today

3.     Improve Sales Forecasting Accuracy

Three reports significantly improve the process of sales forecasting because they give robust visibility of the pipeline.

So use the information contained in these reports to achieve a step-change in forecasting reliability.

(We’ll talk about additional metrics in Section 4).

However, before we start there’s a critical prerequisite of robust pipeline visibility: unambiguous Opportunity Stages.

 

Opportunity Pipeline Stages

High-quality visibility of the sales pipeline leads to vastly improved sales forecasts.

However, in turn funnel visibility depends upon everyone understanding, and agreeing, on the meaning of the Opportunity Stages.
Unfortunately, very often that’s not the case.

In salesforce it doesn’t help that the default Opportunity Stages aren’t well understood. Nor particularly useful in many businesses.

Default or standard Opportunity Stages in salesforce.

So do two things:

First: change the Opportunity Stage picklist to values that have meaning in your business. This blog post will help you define the right values.

Second: make sure everyone understands and agrees on the meaning of each Opportunity Stage.

Those two items are critical to using the most important pipeline review chart.

 

Report 1: Pipeline by Stage and Close Date

This simple report and chart is the starting point in reviewing and analyzing a sales forecast.

That’s because what the chart and underlying report often reveal, is that any sales forecast based on the opportunities in salesforce is immediately going to be way off base.

However, get the underlying information right and you’re well on your way to a reliable forecast.

Let’s take an example.

Pipeline by Stage and Close Date the starting point in reviewing and analyzing a sales forecast.

Based on this example, here are the primary areas to investigate that improve our chances of getting a reliable sales forecast.

 

Deals with Close Dates in the past

This is a common problem.

So much so, in fact, I’ve published a blog post specifically on the steps you should take when you’re funnel looks full of out-of-date opportunities.

In this case, it’s not too bad.

What are those deals doing in previous months? Are they still open? If so, will they close in the current month? Or are they deals that are no longer viable and should be removed from the pipeline?

Addressing this is the first step to getting a reliable sales forecast for the current month or quarter.

Pro Tip

Drill down to the underlying report.

Here’s a great feature of Lightning reports in salesforce.

Click on the number within the report that you want to investigate. Now we can see the specific deals that make up the number.

Click on the number within the report that you want to investigate. Now we can see the specific deals that make up the number.

Right click on the Opportunity Name to open it in a separate tab.

Update the Opportunity by changing the Close Date and / or Stage.

Repeat this step until you no longer have Opportunities with old Close Dates.

 

Deals with unrealistic Opportunity Stages

Let’s look at the current month (I’m assuming it’s May 2019 for the purposes of this demonstration).

Many B2B companies have a sales cycle of three to four months. Some much longer.

So how realistic is it that deals with an Opportunity Stage of Prospecting or Investigation will close this month?

In fact if we are mid-month (which is often when we are producing sales forecasts), then even many deals in Proposal Made may not close successfully this month.

So here’s what you do.

Same as before, look at the underlying detail.

Review the early stage opportunities. There’s three possible scenarios for each one:

1. The Close Date and Stage are accurate.

Perhaps it’s an existing customer with a strong purchasing track record that has told us he’ll definitely be ordering this month.

2. There’s a reliable Close Date but the Stage is wrong.

In other words, the Opportunity is more advanced in the sales cycle. Assuming you’re confident in the Close Date, update the Stage.

3. There’s a reliable Stage but the Close Date is wrong.

Perhaps this deal was originally anticipated to close this month. But now it’s not. Move the Close Date so that your forecast for this month is more robust.

Of course, there’s also the possibility that both the Stage and the Stage need updating.

So go through the funnel opportunities in your sales forecast and make sure you are happy with the Close Date and Stage in every case.

Pro Tip

Managers with large sales teams and / or lots of opportunities can’t go through every deal this way. One technique to avoid this is to manage by exception, using the metrics explained in Section 4.

Create a version of the Close Date by Stage report to run on My Team. Have sales leaders to go through the same pipeline validation process with their team members.

And then go a step further. Providing the Role Hierarchy is correct, when individual salespeople run the My Team report, they will see only their own deals. Train and educate each salesperson on using the report to check and validate their personal pipeline.

Unlikely funnel spikes

In many businesses there’s a determined sales drive at certain times of the year. In particular, to close deals in the last month of the financial year or quarter.

Here’s the Funnel by Close Date and Stage chart I saw recently.

Can you guess when their financial year ends?

You’re right. December. And of course that means there’s an additional quarter-end in March, June and September.

So why the spikes?

The reason is that in this business, salespeople are under top-down pressure to meet revenue expectations from internal and external company stakeholders.

Consequently, hopeful Close Dates are assigned to many opportunities. These are based not on the customer buying process, but on the desire to assuage other pressures. “It’s bound to close sometime this year, I’ll put in the year-end”.

In reality, how many deals do you know that close on December 31?

The same thing happens with the quarter-end.

The result?

The sales forecasts reflect funnels containing artificial peaks in the number and value of opportunities that will be won. Consequently, these sales forecasts are almost always unreliable.

So, review your longer-term pipeline. Validate that peaks in the value of deals to be closed accurately reflect sales effort and marketplace conditions rather than the need to satisfy non-customer stakeholders.

Otherwise?

You’re simply kidding yourself.

 

Pipeline by Created Date

Reviewing the pipeline by created date is another way to validate funnel quality.

This chart shows deals due to close this month (and therefore in our current sales forecast) by created date.

The Pipeline By Created Date shows deals due to close this month (and therefore in our current sales forecast) by created date.

Does your sales forecast contain many deals with a longer-then-average sales cycle?

It looks like it here.

Potentially, these are deals that consistently move along in order to maintain the size of the pipeline. If you’re reliant upon these deals to meet your sales quota, you may be on wafer-thin ice.

Same steps as before.

Drill down to the underlying deals.

Assess the viability of these deals. Do this to gauge reliability of your sales forecast.

 

Conversion Rate Report

You might be wondering:

How does a report that shows opportunity win rates (conversion rates) help us assess the reliability of a sales forecast?

Well, take a look to check that historic opportunity conversion rates are realistic.

First example.

Let’s assume that in your business, instinct and experience tell you the opportunity conversion rate should be around 30%.

So, how do we explain a conversion rate report in salesforce that shows the win rate is 70%?

Two possible reasons.

 

Opportunity sandbagging

Not all deals enter the pipeline immediately. In other words, only when the salesperson is confident of a successful outcome is it entered in salesforce. It’s called sandbagging.

On the one hand, this means your sales forecast might be pessimistic. This is because there are deals out there being worked on, some of which may come to fruition. It’s simply that you don’t have visibility of them.

If this genuinely is the case, your revenue forecast is still going to be pretty inaccurate. Only this time the forecast will be too low.

And as the VP of Sales it doesn’t exactly give the impression you’re on top of what’s going on.

 

Deals in the pipeline too long

Deals that no longer have legs are not moved out of the pipeline.

The result?

The funnel contains many deals that are unlikely to close successfully any time soon (if ever).

Some of these deals may be in your current sales forecast. Consequently, the forecast probably overstates revenue. In any event, it’s not built on solid foundations.

Which explanation applies in your business if the conversion rate is artificially high? Sandbagging or dormant deals? Or both?

Well, instinct and anecdotal evidence might be enough.

But to be sure, take a second look at the Pipeline by Created Date chart.

If there’s a significant number of deals open much longer than seems reasonable then it’s probably the second explanation. Dormant deals aren’t removed from the funnel.

Take a good look at these deals. Weed out those that undermine your sales forecast.

4.     Pipeline Quality Metrics

The reports and dashboard charts we’ve looked at so far are an excellent way of validating the sales forecast top down.

But you might be thinking:

How do I manage by exception? What are the metrics identifying specific deals that potentially should not be included in the sales forecast?

There are three deal metrics we can use to surface deals that have an increased chance of slipping from the forecast. Deals that will potentially leave egg on our face.

Here they are:

1. Number of Close Date Month Extensions. This is the number of times the Close Date on the Opportunity has moved from one month to another.

2. Number of Days since the Last Stage Change. This tracks how long it is since the Opportunity Stage was last updated.

3. Age of the Opportunity. This is the number of days the Opportunity has been open.

There are three deal metrics we can use to surface deals that have an increased chance of slipping from the forecast.

Use these metrics to manage by exception.

In other words, they help sales managers quickly and easily identify high-risks deals.

You can do this using a dashboard table.

The table shows deals due to close this month. So they’re all potentially in your sales forecast.
But can you rely upon them?

Well, the Oxted Manufacturing Opportunity has been open over 200 days. It’s 100 days since the Opportunity Stage was last updated. And the Close Date has moved from one month to another 4 times already.

Not exactly a banker, I’d say.

Perhaps this deal WILL finally close this month.

But you get the idea.

These sales metrics and the accompany dashboard help rapidly identify deals we must investigate further.

5.     Get Free Salesforecasting Resources

Here are free resources that will radically improve the sales forecasting method and technique in your company.
• GSP Sales Forecast Template.
• 30 minute web meeting with me.

 

GSP Sales Forecast Template

This free dashboard has been installed over 1,000 times. You can find it on the AppExchange here.

The package contains:
• All the reports described in this sales forecasting guide.
• A comprehensive dashboard with drill-down to all reports.
• The three deal quality metrics and dashboard table that help you manage by exception.

There’s even a configuration guide that explains how to adapt the sales forecast template to the specific needs of your business.

Apply for the 30 minute web meeting

Each week I hold four free one-to-one meetings lasting 30 minutes.

The discussion is private and specific to your company. You decide the specific topic to discuss so that you get maximum benefit from the discussion.

It doesn’t have to be about sales forecasting. Here some recent examples of other topics I’ve covered recently. How do I:
• Adapt salesforce to the specific needs and processes of my business?
• Embed robust forecasting and pipeline management techniques across my sales team?
• Track revenue versus quota and know whether there is sufficient pipeline to meet target?
• Increase salesforce benefits and the investment ROI?
• Manage framework agreements and other non-standard opportunities?

Good luck and happy forecasting!

Apply For A 30 Minute Web Meeting With Gary Today

Just complete our Contact Us form by following the link below 

Podcast | 5 Things Leaders Must Do To Align Sales & Marketing

Podcast | 5 Things Leaders Must Do To Align Sales & Marketing

Our CEO, Gary Smith was a recent podcast guest, talking about the importance of aligning sales and marketing activity.  In the podcast, Gary talks about the critical importance of alignment in boosting revenue. Listen to the conversation; or if you prefer, read the transcript below.

“This is Jeff Davis (JD) on the Sales & Marketing Alignment Podcast where we explore sales and marketing alignment strategy for B2B businesses.  

“Today’s guest is Gary Smith (GS) Chief Executive at the Gary Smith Partnership (GSP). GSP is a sales and marketing consulting firm that specialises in process change  and enabling disruptive technology implementation. In our conversation we’ll discuss:

  • The most compelling reason why sales and marketing must align right now.
  • How to build the business case for alignment and get support from the CEO.
  • Five things steps to start on the path to sales & marketing alignment.
  • The importance of business culture in successfully being able to achieve alignment.

Let’s jump into the episode. Gary thank you for joining us today on the podcast.”

GS:  “You’re welcome Jeff. Looking forward to it – it’s an exciting thing you’re doing with this podcast.”

JD:  “Thank you so much. It’s a passion of mine and I really want to help our sales and marketing leaders as well as CEOs out there figure this out from a strategic standpoint. So let’s start. Tell us who Gary Smith is and why you came to this point of sales and marketing alignment being a focus for you.”

GS:  “Well, my name is Gary Smith. I’m the co-founder and Chief Executive of a the Gary Smith Partnership. We help companies in what would now be called Sales Enablement – but in old money would be called People, Process and Technology Change. And we continually come across this whole question of ‘how do sales and marketing get better aligned?’ How do they make two plus two equal five; and how do they start to collaborate effectively?

 

“In other words, how do they produce a synergistic relationship? It’s something that more and more of our customers are talking to us about? And it’s taking more prominence in the press and media; your podcast is an example, Jeff. In fact our most ever shared blog post is Five Powerful Best Practices To Achieve Sales & Marketing Alignment.

“So it’s becoming increasingly prominent in the conversation. We’ve done a lot of thinking about it. We’ve done a lot of practical work with customers to help them better align and produce even better revenue results. So it’s a topic of interest and a topic off importance to us.”

JD: “So it sounds like from what you’ve shared with us you’ve been working on this type of work for quite some time and you have a body of work to speak from.

 Is that correct?”

GS:  “Yes. It’s something that we really evolved into.

“We are a CRM technology implementer; but to really get the best of any CRM technology and increasingly marketing automation application, you absolutely have to address the process, the people and you have to look at the importance of organisational  culture. Business executives demand results from their investments and that’s really where the need to align Sales and Marketing comes from.”

JD: “Thank you. I’ve had the chance to read book by Traey Isler and Austin. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read it but they really have put a business case together that specifically talks about sales and marketing alignment. And one thing I thought was interesting in the book – there are many – but they came up with this mantra called ‘sales can’t do it alone’. Marketing exists to make sales easier. I want to help frame the conversation on why today sales and marketing alignment is so important for B2B CEO aand executives to really pay attention to what is happening in the market.”

GS:  “Well, I think what has changed over the last few years is the buying process, the journey that buyers go on. There’s that well-known statistic that buyers are 57 percent of the way through the buying process before they actually engage with a salesperson.

“So, if organizations are attempting to influence the buyers through that 57 percent, they need to get engaged with buyer early and they need to make those buyers favourably disposed towards their own sets of solutions. However, if it’s not the salesperson doing that communication, who is it?

“It’s really marketing doing that communication. I think organizations have found it increasingly difficult to get salespeople in front of buyers early. Unfortunately for the sellers, buyers are often far down the journey when the salesperson does get involved. However, to sell effectively, it’s imperative for those selling organizations to get involved in the process earlier. That means effective marketing communications. It’s that recognition that has really led to this topic taking on the prominence it has at the moment.”

JD:  “That makes a lot of sense.

“I think a lot of companies are starting to feel that but I don’t know if everybody in the leadership really understands how to approach it. I found through talking with folks like you, doing research and my interactions with customers, that the CEO really needs to be on board in order to really make this work. So how do we start to build the business case so that we can say dedicating resources toward this type of effort is worth it? How do the VP’s of sales and marketing convince the CEO?

“How do we start that conversation?”

GS:  “Well, I found there are essentially two things you have to do.

“First you need to produce a quantifiable business case.  There are various frameworks you can use to do that. We help companies identify the benefits, the business capabilities they need to deliver those benefits and the things that they needed to do to produce the deliverables.  Also what things needed to change in order to achieve the business capabilities. There are ways that you can quantify those benefits.

“But the second thing you need to do is go to the leadership with a story or an anecdote. Provide a provide a successful  example.

“For example, I was recently talking to a prospect of one of our customers. Our customer had failed to win a deal with this prospect. The prospect had told our customer that the reason was they were too expensive; they said that was the reason that they didn’t go with their solution.

“I asked the prospect if this was true and he said, “well that’s what we told them but the reality was that if we had really wanted to work with them, we could have gotten around that somehow. But, the truth is, we didn’t want to work with them. The salesperson was too anxious. Every time we asked a question he interrupted me. They were too quick to submit their proposal. They didn’t teach us anything. They didn’t give us any insight. They were just too keen to drive the sale through.”

“So the prospect said it was just easier to tell them that there were too expensive so that nobody got fired. ‘We didn’t want to have an argument. It was just a graceful way to turn down the deal.’

“Our customer had spent the last six months tinkering with their pricing strategy to increase sales volume, but to no avail. Now, when I took that anecdote to the board, they were shell shocked. There was a deafening silence.

“Incidentally, when anybody does that research you have to do it anonymously in the sense that you don’t tell your client who said what about whom.  You just aggregate the feedback to avoid a ‘blame game’ exercise.

“Eventually the CEO broke the boardroom silence.  ‘Maybe we do need to change. Maybe we do need to produce content that gives insight to people. Maybe we do need to change the way our sales process works.’

“At that point, they realised increased focus on sales pipeline velocity was driving the sales people’s behaviour with prospects through the sales process. This underlines why you must include a qualitative element in your business case and provide real life anecdotes.”

JD:  And I like the fact that you say you have to go with this two part approach right. It’s one thing to come with a quantifiable business case. But I think obviously for any CEO it’s extremely important. Like you said if you don’t bring in those stories of missed opportunities or things that we can do better. So I’m glad you brought that up because some people may miss that second part that’s important.

GS:  And I think the way you get those stories Jeff, is you have to go to ‘the horse’s mouth’. You have to go to the customers and the prospects and find out what is important to them.

What I see happening time and time again is that the companies say, ‘right we are going to align sales and marketing’. The first thing they do is they get a bunch of salespeople and the marketing team in a room together.

And the marketing guys ask sales ‘okay tell us what the customers really want? But as we have seen from our anecdote, the salespeople don’t always know what customers really want.  So yes, you have to break the mould.  You have to step outside the paradigm. Break up that blame game and go and find what is truly important to the customer. I think that’s so important.

JD:  So you make me think of something really interesting right. So we get sales together, we get marketing  together but there are those opportunities that we not only talk to our current customers but we talk to customers that we might have lost business from and understand the real reason why.

GS:  Well, you learn I guess like most things in life so much more from failure than you do from success. There’s a very good book by Matthew Syed that’s called Black Box Thinking.  It’s about how you learn from failure and that the reason you have to go and get that research – real qualitative information from customers. You have to break that mould of sales and marketing blaming each other.

Then, look jointly at the customer priorities. Work through the customer buying process from the very start of that journey.

You have look at each point in the in the buying process. Ask what could we have done at this point 1 percent better, 2 percent better? And what are the things that we didn’t do, that buyers say we should do? And you have to adapt those things not to accentuate a blame process but to treat them as an opportunity to create a marginal gain.

Once the clarity of the business case is accepted many customers ask me where to start and what are those first steps to moving the organization forward to alignment?

In my view, there are five things you have to do. As I’ve illustrated, the first is understanding what is truly important to customers and prospects. Get that qualitative feedback.

“The second thing you have to do is implement an internal, feedback loop from sales to marketing. Every lead that is transferred from marketing to sales needs to be tracked.

“You have to get quantitative and qualitative information on the output and what happened from sales. You do that in order to create a learning cycle.

“This is where technology can now come in to support this process. If people are using a CRM system such as salesforce.com, you implement a robust process by using the functionality in the system such as Chatter (an electronic internal communications tool) to share qualitative feedback from sales.

“And it’s really only when you when you start to do create the feedback loop that the third thing you do is get Sales and Marketing and in a room together and say ‘right, let’s take a deal that we lost and go from the very beginning of the process.  Let’s look at everything we did. What are the things that we could have done better. What are the things that we could have done a little bit differently, or even that should we not have done at all.

“Now you’ve got qualitative feedback and you’ve got some metrics about what actually happened. And you use that then to start analyzing the process. Looking at a deal you won, you go through five or six different deals and you start to say how do we change and what patterns are emerging that tell us what we need to do.

Marginal Gains

“The fourth thing you do is you look for all those things we could do to make marginal gains.

“If you do lots of things 1 percent better that will add up to a significant improvement in your effectiveness in the end-to-end sales process. So you look for those you look to see how you aggregate those marginal gains

“What you do every day is you  rigorously implement a process of marginal gains to make small incremental improvements that add up to a big gain over a period of time.

A Step Change

“Whilst we can constantly suggest and make marginal gains daily, the fifth thing you do is to make a step change at an organizational level. The step change might be a new piece of technology. It might be a marketing automation system, a new CRM system it might be something else it might be an organisational a cultural change or it might be a significant change in your sales process.

“But, those are the things that you do occasionally as they come after a large-scale business review and much senior consideration – as well as usually requiring substantial investment.”

JD:  “And speaking about that step change. You mention the culture. Let’s talk a little bit about that because I do think that culture has a huge impact on alignment efforts. What are your thoughts about that and then who owns changing that culture?”

GS:  “Well I think often it does need to change. There’s a very good book by Carol Aronson and University Emeritus Elliot Aronson and it’s called ‘Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)’.

“I think that that sort of attitude pervades a lot conversations between sales and marketing. How often have you heard sales people complain that the ‘leads we get from marketing are rubbish’ and marketing say, ‘well you never phone the damn leads we give you!’

“You have to get over that and collaborate, working on the same side for the customers and prospects. You have to break that combative culture or everyone loses.

“And yes I do think that it’s important to jointly take on board the external feedback as it is difficult to argue against it.  You have to instill that change and I think it’s something that is difficult to say that one person owns it. I think that the are mobilizers that you can use in the organization very often to to drive a cultural change. It’s obviously something that we help and we advise companies and we try to motivate them to make that change but ultimately it’s something that business has to want to do.

 “And that one’s either comes from sometimes it comes from declining market share sometimes it comes from a static pipeline sometimes it comes from some pressure some city pressure to grow revenue wherever it comes from there’s got to be something that compels people to want to change and to want to look outside their existing paradigm in order to make that change.”

JD: “So it sounds like then the leadership need to rally around a vision of the need for change and that will ultimately start to pour people’s hearts and minds into buying into this process of working together better for the survival of the business or whatever that vision is for the company.”

GS:  “Yes I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there Jeff. I think that that these sort of programs I guess you could say about any compelling change in business people have to see the need to change and sometimes that might be the there’s a it’s clear there’s a market opportunity to be exploited.

“Sometimes it’s if we don’t change we’re going to be in trouble sometimes we’re in trouble. So there needs to be something whether it’s in life or in business. Often the some external motivation that’s causing us to look afresh it might simply be a new VP of Marketing or new VP of sales. It just brings a fresh approach.

“But usually there’s got to be got often there’s got to be something. I’ve spoken to an organization the other day and said we’ve we’ve been in a largely monopoly industry which has been taking orders for 40 years but suddenly that industry has been deregulated and everybody is saying well we could be out of business in a couple of years if we don’t change. So that so in that organization there is a there is a compelling desire to change. And yes I do think there’s got to be. I think you used the word vision Jeff and I think it’s a very good word to describe but you’ve got to paint that vision.

“Sometimes that comes from just looking at the customer journey and say how could we do this better. We have to do it better. And I think that’s that’s the catalyst that brings sales and marketing together.”

JD:  “Great. Well before we close out our time together I want to ask you one key takeaway that you would give for our listeners what is that one thing or theme that you feel executives should always keep top of mind as they’re going along this journey of alignment for the organization if you only do one thing go and speak to the customers and the prospects who buy and don’t buy your goods or services.”

GS: “Find out from the horse’s mouth what truly needs to change. And as you go on that journey of change continue to validate that change and check it’s making a difference to the people that matter.”

JD: “Perfect. Gary thank you so much for your time today. I really really appreciate it Jeff.”

Related Blog Posts

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

 

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

 

How To Plug A Leaking Funnel In The Right Place

 

Big is beautiful: The 4 easy dashboard charts you need to measure pipeline size

How To Track Revenue Over Time Using Product Schedules

How To Track Revenue Over Time Using Product Schedules

Schedule Revenue Over Time In Salesforce

Take our new app for a test drive today

In many businesses, no money changes hands when a deal is won.

Rather, the revenue is scheduled over time.

For example:

  • Professional services that deliver projects over time.
  • Capital equipment items that the customer draws down or pays for over time.
  • Maintenance contracts where the revenue spans one, two or three years.
  • Software-as-a-Service (Saas) licenses on fixed term or open ended-contacts.
  • Transactional or regularly supplied items in which you anticipate the customer will buy a significant volume every month, but with no fixed or guaranteed amount.

In fact, it’s common to have a mix of revenue streams over time on the same opportunity. Often, these are covered by framework agreements that span multiple opportunities.

The upshot:

You need an easy yet powerful way to create and maintain accurate product revenue schedules. Otherwise, you lack robust forecasts and accurate visibility of future revenue.

Unfortunately:

Many people have told me just how difficult that is to achieve in salesforce.

So, to fix this problem we built the GSP Product Revenue Schedules app.

It’s the quickest, easiest and most effective way for salespeople to schedule revenue over time in salesforce.

In this blog post, I’ll explain why scheduling revenue using standard functionality is difficult in salesforce. And demonstrate EXACTLY how to address this using the Product Revenue Schedules app.

Prefer to jump straight to a demo of the app? Watch this video to see how it works.

Before we get onto the app, let’s understand why the standard salesforce product revenue schedule functionality is a challenge.

 

Standard Salesforce Product Schedules

One option to schedule revenue over time in salesforce is to use the standard product schedules feature.

This works for some businesses. However, there are also significant limitations which I’ll explain.

Here’s how the standard product schedule function works in salesforce.

The salesperson adds one or more Products to an opportunity in the normal way.

The salesperson adds one or more Products to an opportunity in the normal way.

Then, the salesperson creates a Schedule for each product line item. They do this by clicking individually on each product line item, then on the Establish button.

This provides the popup to enter details about the schedule for that opportunity product.

Click on the Establish button to define the parameters of the product schedules for the first opportunity line item.

This generates the product schedule that tracks revenue over time for the first product.

The process of establishing the schedules has to be repeated for each product line item.

However, this process has to be repeated for every additional product on the opportunity.

Advantages of standard product schedules

  • Standard functionality. No need to purchase a separate app.
  • Scheduled revenue over time can be tracked using reports and dashboards (although this is limited).

Disadvantages of standard product schedules

  • The user interface is cumbersome. To say the least. For example, the salesperson drills down to each product separately to create the schedule.
  • Schedules can’t be created at the same time as adding the product; they have to be added afterwards.
  • If the opportunity close date changes, the schedules do not automatically shift. The result is that the revenue schedules quickly get out of kilter with the opportunity.
  • It’s impossible to customize, adapt or extend the standard schedules. For example, you can’t add a Status field to track Booked, Shipped, Invoiced, Paid values. Likewise, you also cannot schedule by margin or other values.
  • There’s zero ability track committed and pipeline revenue over time against target.

The result is that many companies that need to schedule revenue over time in salesforce simply don’t. Unfortunately, this means they lack visibility of future income.

Consequently, they often attempt to resolve this in one of three other ways.

 

Common alternatives to standard scheduling

Rather than using the standard salesforce revenue scheduling functionality, here’s what many companies do:

 

Option #1:

They perform this critical activity outside salesforce.

Often, this happens simply because companies perceive it’s too difficult to schedule revenue over time in salesforce using standard functionality.

However, accurate visibility of won and pipeline scheduled revenue based on latest opportunity updates is lost.  

Significant effort is also expended, manually forecasting future revenue.

 

Option #2

Create numerous fields on the opportunity. These fields capture scheduled revenue for Q1, Q2 and so on for each year.

This is almost always a mistake.

That’s because it’s virtually impossible to produce meaningful reports and dashboard charts. It also significantly reduces usability because its time consuming for salespeople to enter the data.

 

Option #3

The third option is to create multiple opportunities in salesforce. Each opportunity typically represents one year of revenue.

For example, let’s say you win a contract to deliver services over three years. That’s one opportunity.

However, companies often create two further opportunities to represent income in years two and three. This, despite the fact that the deal is won, and no further sales effort need take place.

The result?

Pipeline reports and dashboard charts are inaccurate. Opportunity conversion rates are wrong. And salespeople waste time maintaining and updating spurious opportunities.

Looking To Customize The App To Suit Your Business?

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GSP Product Revenue Schedules app

Tracking revenue over time is so important, yet none of the alternatives cut the mustard.

Its why we built a salesforce app.

This where you can find the GSP Revenue Schedules app on the AppExchange.

Here’s the main features and benefits of the app.

  • Very quick and easy for reps to use.
  • Accurate forecasts of revenue over time from won and pipeline opportunities.
  • Easily compare scheduled revenue over time with targets.
  • Schedules and forecasts update automatically when the opportunity information changes.
  • Analyse revenue over time by product, territory, salesperson or any other parameter.

And guess what?

The schedules automatically shift whenever the opportunity close date moves.

That means everything is always kept in sync.

We’ve included a webinar recording at the foot of this post to show exactly how the app works.

Or carry on reading for screenshots and more information about how the app works.

(Incidentally, although all the screenshots in this post are in Lightning, the app works equally well in Classic interface).

 

Create revenue schedules

The salesperson selects products to add to the opportunity the normal way.

As you’d expect, we have the standard Quantity and Sales Price fields. However, we also have two custom fields, Revenue Start Date and # Revenue Months.

The Revenue Start Date and # Revenue Months allow salespeople to define the schedule parameters for each Opportunity Product Line Item.

These fields allow the salesperson to define the revenue schedule parameters for each product on the opportunity.

Clicking Save adds the products to the opportunity and generates the revenue schedules.

Clicking Save adds the products to the opportunity and generates the revenue schedules.

We can click View All to see all the revenue schedules associated with each product.

We can click View All to see all the product revenue schedules associated with each product

Adjust revenue schedules

Let’s say the salesperson wants to adjust the revenue schedules.

Easy.

Hit the Edit Line Items button.

Use the Edit Line Items button to adjust the revenue schedules.

This opens the page that lets the salesperson quickly and easily edit the revenue schedules for all products on the opportunity.

Revenue schedules update immediately page when the salesperson adjusts the parameters on the Edit Line Items page.

The revenue schedules update immediately.

 

Close Date Changes

Here’s the most common event on an opportunity:

The close date moves.

We thought it was closing this month. Things are delayed. We need to move the close date to next month.

No problem.

All the revenue schedules automatically update by the same number of days as the shift in the close date.

If the Opportunity Close Date changes, the revenue schedules automatically update by the same number of days.

This avoids salespeople having to continuously re-align schedules. Therefore, accuracy of revenue forecasting is maintained effortlessly.

 

Manually adjust product revenue schedules

The GSP Product Revenue Schedules app automatically calculate the schedule amounts. This is based on the parameters set by the salesperson.

However, sometimes its right for the salesperson to manually adjust the revenue schedule amounts, based on human knowledge.

Let’s say, for example, you know that the first monthly schedule will be higher than the others.

No problem.

Open the Mass Edit Line Item page.

Open the Mass Edit Line Item page to make a manual adjustment to the schedules.

Make the adjustment.

Manually adjusting the product revenue schedules using the GSP app.

This automatically adjusts the Sales Price of the Product Line Item.

The Sales Price of the Product Line Item and the Opportunity Amount are automatically modified when the product revenue schedules are manually adjusted.

This, in turn, updates the Line Item Total Price and the Opportunity Amount.
In other words, everything is kept 100% in sync.

Update for latest scheduled revenue forecasts

Here’s what happens when the Opportunity is set to Won.
The Schedule Amount is locked.
Why?
Because this value represents the product revenues we expect at the point when the opportunity is won.

 When the opportunity is set to Won the Schedule Amount column is locked.

Something else also happens:

The Revenue Amount is copied into the Forecast Amount.

The Revenue Amount is copied into the Forecast Amount when the Opportunity is won.

This means that as time goes by, the Forecast Amount can be adjusted based on how the opportunity revenue is actually panning out.

This means we can compare the revenue we expected to generate alongside the latest actual forecast.

This means we can compare two things: the revenue we expected to generate alongside the latest actual forecast.

This is critical in many businesses.

For example, let’s say you win an opportunity to sell 100 petrol pumps. The customer wants to take delivery over 12 months, in line with their gas station re-fit program.

Your product revenue schedule defines how you expect to realize the revenue over time. Perhaps you’ve even made some manual adjustments to get it spot on.

But suppose the site re-fit program doesn’t proceed as fast as planned. Now, five months into the contract, the account manager updates the Forecast Amount based on the latest information.

The account manager updates the Forecast Amount based on the latest information.

Perhaps she even needs to add several new monthly schedules in order to extend the timeframe.

New schedule records can be added to extend the timeframe over which revenue is forecasted.

Opportunity level summary

At all times, essential revenue schedule values are summarized back on the opportunity. This include the Revenue Amount, the latest Forecast Amount and the number of schedules.

Key metrics including the Revenue Amount, the latest Forecast Amount and the number of schedules are summarized on the opportunity.

This means salespeople can quickly and easily view the latest key metrics about the opportunity.

 

Track revenue over time versus target

Now you can compare scheduled product revenue over time with salesperson targets.

Here’s an example.

This is the target for Jim Jones for April 2019. The product revenue schedules that are due to land in April, automatically link to this target.

The product revenue schedules automatically link to targets.

Jim has a scheduled revenue target for April of $12,000. Remember, that’s his scheduled revenue target not the gross sales value target.

Jim has scheduled product revenue from won opportunities of $8,333.

So he’s achieved 69% of his target.

Jim also has potential scheduled product revenue of $1,666 from open opportunities. In other words, this revenue is not committed. It relates to the product revenue schedules on pipeline opportunities that we hope will close soon.

We can also see the weighted value of these pipeline schedules: $833. This is the opportunity probability factored into the schedule amount.

This produces the Expected Schedule Amount of $9,167. That’s the total amount Jim can expect to achieve from scheduled revenues in April.

The result is that salespeople and managers can easily see whether there is enough committed and pipeline scheduled revenue to meet quota.

Looks like Jim has some work to do to hit his target!

 

Product Revenue Schedule Reports and Dashboards

Salespeople and managers need full visibility of pipeline and scheduled revenue. To achieve this, the GSP Product Revenue Schedules app has comprehensive dashboards for salesforce Lightning and Classic versions.

 

Here’s the Lightning dashboard

 Lightning dashboard for the GSP Product Revenue Schedules app.

And the Classic version.

Classic dashboard for the GSP Product Revenue Schedules app.

Users can clone and adapt these charts and reports and customize them to meet additional reporting needs.

 

S-curve versus straight-line schedules

By default, the app produces straight-line product revenue schedules. In other words, each monthly schedule is for the same amount.

As we’ve seen, the amount for any month can be easily adjusted by the salesperson.

But who on earth needs s-curve schedules?

Well, let’s say you deliver infrastructure projects.

The initial stages of the project are about mobilization and planning. These activities are relatively resource-light. Then you get into the heavy lifting of delivery. Towards the end of the project, its more about testing and commissioning, which requires less overall effort.

This means the revenue profile is an s-curve. Moderate amounts of effort and cost are expended at the beginning and end. More significant work is done in the middle.

The result is an s-curve revenue profile on individual opportunities.

S-curve revenue profile on an opportunity.

Get in touch if you’d like to find out how to activate s-curve revenue profiles within the app.

 

Advantages of the GSP Product Schedules app

 

Here’s a summary of the main advantages of using the GSP app to schedule product revenue in salesforce.

  • Super-easy for salespeople to use.
  • Flexibility to define different revenue profiles over time for each opportunity product.
  • Forecast accuracy is maintained because schedules automatically shift when the close date changes.
  • Compare schedule revenue expected when the opportunity is won with the latest post-win forecast.
  • Track scheduled product revenue versus target.
  • Ability to further adapt the standard app to meet specific scheduling needs within your business.

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The Best Sales Pipeline Report To Use Right Now (2019)

The Best Sales Pipeline Report To Use Right Now (2019)

Nothing is more useful to a sales manager than a pipeline report and dashboard chart that give full visibility of the funnel.

That’s why this article has everything you need to know about the best report and dashboard chart to deliver pipeline visibility in salesforce.

I’ll explain what the report and chart look like. I’ll show you how to easily get both items into your own salesforce environment.

And most importantly of all, I’ll demonstrate EXACTLY how to use the report and chart to achieve accurate revenue forecasting and robust pipeline management.

Bottom line:

If you want to get more benefits from salesforce dashboards, you’ll love this pipeline report and chart. It’s my favourite in our 12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts.

Don’t have time to read the whole article right now?

No problem, download the PDF by completing the form below.

The Best Pipeline Report and Dashboard Chart

Here’s what we are talking about:

The Pipeline by Month and Opportunity Stage report is the best tool for accurate forecasting and effective sales management. It shows the value of Opportunities due to close each month. Within each month, the value is split by the various Opportunity Stages.

This means it provides essential information for accurate forecasting and managing the sales pipeline.

Here’s what it looks like on a salesforce Lightning dashboard chart.

We can see, for example, there’s $60,000 of pipeline due to close in October. Of that, $11,000 is in the Negotiation Stage.

Drill down from the chart to see the exact numbers in pipeline report:

If you’re using the Classic salesforce interface, then the pipeline chart is going to look pretty similar:

However, Classic and Lightning reports are built differently. This means the Classic pipeline report will look like this:

In other words, in Classic the months usually go on the horizontal axis. Lightning prefers them vertically.

Nevertheless, although the reports look slightly different, the principles of using the information to achieve robust pipeline visibility and accurate revenue forecasting are exactly the same.

How to get this pipeline report and chart

You might be thinking:

How do I get my hands on this pipeline report and dashboard chart?

You have two options.

1. Build it yourself. Use a straightforward Opportunities report, grouped by Stage, displaying the Amount field.

2. Install our free GSP Salesforce Dashboard. You can download it from the AppExchange Listing. In fact, the dashboard contains all 12 of my recommended salesforce sales pipeline charts and reports.

So, no excuses for not having this pipeline report and chart at your fingertips 😊

Awesome Pipeline and Sales Performance Visibility

Download the FREE Dashboard from the AppExchange today

How to use the pipeline report in current month

Let’s assume it’s the middle of October right now. Also, let’s say our average sales cycle is 3 months or thereabouts.

What do the report and chart tell us?

We can see that in our current month (October), there’s $60,000 of Opportunities due to close.

Furthermore, this value is split by the various Opportunity Stages. In salesforce, hover over each Stage for additional detail.

As a sales manager looking at my October projected revenue, I want to know: just how robust is the October pipeline?

Here’s what to do. Expand the report so that it shows the names and owners of the individual opportunities. Click Edit on the report, then check the Detail Rows option.

Think about the deals in each Stage.

For example, those deals that are in Prospecting:

If our average sales cycle is three months, you need to be confident those deals will close this month.

Ask yourself, should some of these opportunities 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 these opportunities already slipped from one month to another?

That’s because if the answer to any these questions is yes, it means you do not have a robust pipeline nor an accurate forecast for the current month.

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

Here’s something that happens time and again with deals due to close in the current month. They slip from one month to the next. This isn’t an article on how to manage that problem, but this is

You might want to bookmark it to read later.

Or watch this video on pipeline quality metrics.

Key point:

Go through the deals due to close this month and make sure the opportunities are at the right stage and have a realistic close date.

December pipeline strength

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

What about those deals in the Negotiation Stage?

Are they at the correct Stage? If so, 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 December pipeline report here’s what I notice:

There’s a lot of funnel due to close at the end of the year.

Are these deals in December because the financial year of many customers ends that month? If so, we can legitimately expect many deals to complete in the run up to Christmas?

Likewise, work out whether many of the opportunities due to close in December been sitting in the pipeline for a long time.

For example, were salespeople under pressure earlier in the year to boost the size of the pipeline? If so, salespeople may have entered December as the close date on the basis that (hopefully) the opportunity is “bound to close sometime during the year”.

If that is the case, it means the December pipeline is nowhere near as strong as we hope. So take a hard look at it.

Tip: this blog post explains how to get pipeline metrics that reveal how long the deal has been open and the number of days since the last opportunity stage change. Use these metrics to identify opportunities that have an increased chance of slipping to another month.

January pipeline strength

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

Perhaps this dip is due to a legitimate seasonal variation. Alternatively, maybe it’s right to expect a slow start to the new year.

On the other hand, is it something we should be concerned about? The pipeline report may be telling us we may need to start organizing marketing campaigns now, in order to boost the pipeline three or four months from now.

12 Must-Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

Download the FREE eBook from our website today

Deals due to close in earlier months

Let’s stick with our assumption that right now, we’re in the middle of October. Consequently, what are these deals doing here on the sales pipeline chart? The ones closing in September.

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

But we see this very often. In other words, open opportunities with close dates in the past. Either those deals are already closed, and the opportunity stage has not been updated. Or, the close date needs to be moved because the opportunities are still open.

Unfortunately, both circumstances mean the pipeline forecast is not accurate.

A case in point:

Colin Parish, VP of Sales at Moderna downloaded the GSP Sales Dashboard  from the AppExchange. However, Colin’s pipeline report didn’t look like our beautiful example.

That’s because Colin’s funnel was full of opportunities with close dates in the past. It’s such a common problem we gave it a name: The Bedraggled Washing Line Pipeline Report.

See what I mean?

Fortunately, there are five things you can legitimately do if your best pipeline report looks like a bedraggled washing line:

  1. Go through the opportunities one by one yourself and update them.
  2. Get salespeople to update their own opportunities.
  3. Mass update all the opportunities to Closed Won or Closed lost.
  4. Mass update all opportunities with close dates in the past to a future date.
  5. Sweep the problem under the carpet.

Yes, you read that last one right.

I explain exactly why and when you should use each course of action in this post:

Don’t Let Your Best Pipeline Chart Look Like a Bedraggled Washing Line

Don’t hog it, get your team using the best pipeline report

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

However, like any other pipeline report, it doesn’t just need to be visible to managers.

Salespeople can manage their own pipeline using this same pipeline chart. Filter the report to show ‘My Team’s Opportunities’. The means it will contain the opportunities belonging to each individual team member.

Tip: check that your Role Hierarchy is accurate to make sure My Team reports show accurate pipeline information. That’s because salesforce uses this configuration feature to define what My Team means for each person.

Now, each team member can take responsibility for managing their own pipeline.

Best pipeline report video

In the video below I demonstrate exactly how to use the sales pipeline report and the dashboard chart.

Create the Opportunities by Close Date and Stage report

Remember, you can install the GSP Sales Dashboard from the AppExchange. That’s the quickest way to get the Pipeline by Close Date and Stage report and dashboard chart. You will, of course, get all the other pipeline reports we recommend as well.

Related Sales Pipeline Blog Posts

Want even more pipeline visibility? Try these blog posts:

Awesome Pipeline and Sales Performance Visibility

Download the FREE Dashboard from the AppExchange today

3 Ways To Measure Performance Against Sales Targets In Salesforce

3 Ways To Measure Performance Against Sales Targets In Salesforce

Many frustrated people search in vain for the Sales Targets tab in salesforce.

However, don’t waste your time.

It does not exist.

Nevertheless, measuring performance against sales targets is a critical activity in running a sales team.

Isn’t it?

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

However, it goes deeper than that.

Sales managers must know two things:

  • First, how does historic performance stack up against sales targets? They need to know this by company, sales team, individual rep and other dimensions.
  • Second, executives must understand whether there is enough pipeline. Is the funnel big enough to meet the target this month, next month or next quarter?

Without this information, you are flying blind.

That is an uncomfortable position.

It means that it’s difficult to know which controls to adjust to be sure of hitting sales targets.

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

Alternatively, if there is insufficient pipeline you have a different challenge. You must close the deals that do exist. However, the sales team must also find new opportunities simply to have a chance of hitting sales targets.

This means measuring performance against both historic and future sales targets is essential.

To do this, there are three options for tracking performance against sales targets in salesforce.

  1. Dashboard gauge.
  2. The Forecasts tab.
  3. Custom solution.

We explain how each one works, its pros and cons and when each is the best option.

12 Must-Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

Download the FREE eBook from our website today

Options for measuring sales targets in salesforce

Here are the three options.

Collectively, they provide salespeople and managers with different levels of information and target tracking experience.

We describe the options and give pointers to indicate the situation when each is appropriate.

Option 1 – Dashboard Gauge

Use a salesforce dashboard gauge to indicate overall achievement against sales target.

Salesforce dashboard gauge is a simple way to measure performance against sales targets.

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

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

Pros of the gauge approach

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

Cons of the gauge approach

  • It is a blunt instrument. For example, if the gauge measures performance at the company level, there’s no visibility of individual rep or sales team performance against sales targets.
  • Manual re-calibration of breakpoint values is required for each target period. In other words, if the target next month is different to this month, the breakpoints need to be modified.
  • Pipeline deals are not shown. Unfortunately, this means we don’t know if there’s enough funnel to meet the sales target for next month. There’s nothing to tell us, for example, if winning 30% of pipeline deals means beating target.

It’s the right choice if

  • You need to set something up quickly.
  • You need a Board-level chart to summarize performance.
  • You only need to measure top-level performance against sales target. Alternatively, if you are prepared to invest the time, set up similar gauges for individual salespeople and teams.
  • Sales targets are the same for each period. In other words, it is not necessary to modify breakpoints each month.

The dashboard gauge is a viable option for relatively straightforward measurement of sales targets.

It’s a simple solution.

If you need to set up a sales target reporting mechanism in the next 5 minutes then this is the option to go for.

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

Option 2 – Salesforce Forecasts Tab

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

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

You can view Closed Won opportunities that contribute to sales targets in the Forecasts tab.

Pipeline deals are also included. Categorize opportunities to indicate the chances of a successful close. This gives managers important information on the strength of the funnel and the likelihood of hitting target.

Managers can override the forecasts made by their direct reports. For example, they can adjust the overall forecast to balance excessive optimism or pessimism of salespeople.

However, there is a downside.

The Forecasts tab is complex.

It’s the most difficult functionality sales people are likely to use.

Significant training and coaching is needed to use the Forecasts tab successfully in tracking performance against sales targets.

Pros of the Forecasts Tab

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

Cons of the Forecasts Tab

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

It’s the right choice if

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

The salesforce Forecasts Tab provides robust target tracking and forecasting capabilities.

However, bear in mind that successful roll-out means appropriate planning and configuration effort.

Contact us if you’re interested in exploring this option, we can help!

Option 3 – GSP Target Tracker

Many of our customers use the GSP Target Tracker to measure performance against sales target.

Click play to see how the GSP Target Tracker measures sales performance against sales targets in salesforce.

As a managed package, the Target Tracker is easy to implement into any salesforce environment.

Minimal training is needed for salespeople and managers to use the Tracker compared to the Forecasts Tab. Fortunately, the Tracker also takes away the need to create forecasts manually.

Closed won and pipeline deals automatically link to relevant sales targets. This means targets are measured against secured business plus the anticipated revenue from funnel opportunities.

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

The sales targets are entered into a custom object for each sales person for each month.

In the example above, we’re looking at the sales target for Michael Watson in April.

The lower portion of the screen shows the Opportunities automatically linked to this target record. The Target Tracker does this by looking at the Close Date of the Opportunity and the Opportunity Owner.

Opportunities link automatically to the relevant sales targets.

The Opportunity links to the relevant target; in this case, Michael Watson’s sales target for April.

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

The embedded chart on the left hand side of the page shows Michael’s target in blue, his Closed Won deals in green and the Expected Revenue of his April pipeline deals in orange.

The purple bar shows that based on these numbers, Michael has a shortfall against his target.

The doughnut chart to right analyses Michael’s April pipeline by Opportunity Stage. This means both Michael and his manager have clarity on the likelihood of hitting target based on the pipeline deals.

Dashboard charts summarize company and team level information.

Dashboard charts summarize company and team level performance against sales targets.

 

The dashboard shows over / under performance against monthly sales target at the company, team and individual level.

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

Pros of the GSP Target Tracker

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

Cons of the GSP Target Tracker

  • A (very reasonable!) license fee.

It’s the right choice if

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

Measure Sales Performance Versus Target

Interested in this app? Get in touch with us today

Recorded Webinar on sales targets in salesforce

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

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

How Sales Forecast Accuracy Helped Dave Apthorp Leave The Building

How Sales Forecast Accuracy Helped Dave Apthorp Leave The Building

December 23, 2016.

It’s late.

Dave Apthorp’s family is expecting him home. His young children want him to help finish decorating the tree.

Unfortunately, Apthorp is still in the office.

That’s because it’s year-end and a third of the pipeline opportunities forecast to close in December have slipped.

Yet one week ago, the sales forecast for the year looked good.

Apthorp told his boss, Mike McCluskey, that his team will exceed quota. Now he’s working on his excuses.

Not for the first time.

He calls McCluskey:

“I’ll come in next week and see if we can get some of the deals over the line after all”, Dave tells him.

McCluskey points out that very few customers will be at work next week.

“Dave, it’s the same every quarter. We need to get this sorted out in 2017.

“I read this blog post on sales forecast accuracy last week”, continues McCluskey. “It’s by a guy called Gary Smith. He’s published a lot on the topic of salesforce dashboard best practices.

“Let’s get him into the office in January and see if he can help improve our sales forecast accuracy”.

 

Sales Forecast Accuracy

In the ideal world, sales managers are confident that every opportunity will close when expected. Imagine if your close dates were always reliable and your sales forecast always accurate?

If only.

Sadly, things aren’t that simple. It’s life that deals slip.

But what can sales managers do about it? How can they avoid getting caught out by nasty surprises at the end of the month? How can they avoid sales forecasts that disappear overnight?

Experience shows it’s often right to be sceptical about sales forecasts. However, knowing which deals have a high probability of slipping means we can take action.

We can double-down on doubtful deals, find new opportunities, work to bring future deals forward.

It also means we can manage expectations by adjusting the sales forecast well ahead of time.

Nevertheless, to scrutinise deals effectively, we need some pointers to highlight riskier opportunities. These pointers help us decide which opportunities to question. They help us identify the deals about which we should be sceptical.

So how do we do this?

These three pipeline quality metrics give us these pointers. They will help you improve sales forecast accuracy and save you from many unforeseen late nights in the office.

 

Introducing the three killer pipeline quality metrics

The problem is clear:

We need to identify deals that have a higher than average chance of slipping. We can do this using three pipeline quality metrics that can lead to sales forecast accuracy.

Here are the three metrics:

  1.    Number of Close Date Month Extensions.
  2.    Number of Days since the last Stage Change.
  3.    Number of Days the Opportunity has been open.

No single pipeline quality metric dominates the others. Use the metrics in conjunction with each other to get the full picture.

Awesome Pipeline and Sales Performance Visibility

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Here’s how it works – the pipeline analytics process

Create a table that displays all the deals that are due to close this month. Include the three pipeline quality metrics in this table.

Salesforce dashboard chart that show pipeline quality metrics such as the number of close date extensions.

Let’s say your average sales deal takes three months to complete. However, you have one deal that has already been open for more than 200 days. The Close Date has slipped from one month to another, four times. It’s been in the same Opportunity Stage for 60 days.

You’re probably right to question whether this deal will close successfully this month. Based on the metrics, there’s good chance it will slip again. In other words, the three pipeline quality metrics are an excellent way to gauge sales forecast accuracy for the period.

Sales managers reviewing these metrics can ask questions about these deals. But the same questions can also be asked by salespeople – the reps who own the Opportunities – to scrutinize and self-manage their own sales forecast.

 

Pipeline quality metric #1 – number of close date month extensions

Here’s a statistically robust way to forecast tomorrow’s weather.

Whatever is happening today, predict that’s what the weather will be like tomorrow.

You will be right more often then you are wrong.

It’s the same with opportunities. If a deal slipped last month, there’s an increased chance it will slip this month.

The Number of Close Date Month Extensions gives us this data. This pipeline quality metric counts the number of times the Close Date has slipped from one month to another.

Close Date changes within a month don’t matter. Nor do changes that make the Close Date earlier. This metric counts the number of times the Close Date has extended from one month to another.

 

Pipeline quality metric #2 – days since last stage change

This pipeline quality metric counts the number of days since the Opportunity Stage was last updated.

Life is not linear. Opportunity Stages don’t change at regular, pre-determined intervals. But a lengthy period without a change – in the context of your average sales cycle – is a sign of a dormant deal.

Let’s say the Opportunity Stage hasn’t changed for a significant period. The deal has slipped from one month to another –  several times. Then you are right to question the close date of this month.

 

Pipeline quality metric #3 – number of days open

This pipeline quality metric counts the number of days that the opportunity has been open. The clock stops ticking when the deal changes to Closed (Won or Lost).

This pipeline quality metric is valuable in its own right. But the primary purpose is to put context into the other quality metrics.

Deals that have had a significantly longer than average sales cycle have a lower chance of closing successfully this month, particularly if the opportunity has already slipped from one month to the next several times. And especially if the Stage has not been updated for quite a while.

To repeat:

Sales forecast accuracy is not about one single pipeline quality metric. It’s about understanding the context. Scrutinize your pipeline with these three pipeline quality metrics to unlock the insight you need to question your deals and find the ones that have a high chance of ruining your sales forecast.

 

4.30 PM, Friday December 22, 2017

Dave Apthorp now uses these pipeline quality metrics to proactively manage his sales forecasts.

He’s gained a reputation for sales forecast accuracy. And he’s spending a lot less time working late in the office. 

If Dave can do it, so can you.

Apthorp calls his wife.

“Honey, tell the kids I’m on my way”.

Dave Apthorp has left the building.

 

Related Blogs

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How And Why To Use Expected Revenue For Sales Forecasting

How And Why To Use Expected Revenue For Sales Forecasting

Not having an accurate revenue forecast is the bane of many sales managers’ lives.

Gut feel just won’t cut it.

Nor will a top-down percentage applied across all open opportunities.

Moreover, executives often dismiss the Expected Revenue report in salesforce as irrelevant or inaccurate.

That’s a pity.

Used correctly, the Expected Revenue report is a realistic forecast of future sales. It’s a sales forecast that stands up to detailed analysis and scrutiny.

But here’s the rub with Expected Revenue.

If the Opportunity Probability is wrong then so is your Expected Revenue forecast.

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.

Awesome Pipeline and Sales Performance Visibility

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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.

Report and dashboard chart compares 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.

Compare the difference in conversion rates between salespeople.

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.

Expected Revenue using standard approach.

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.

Expected revenue with probability adjusted for new customer.

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.

Expected Revenue adjusted for existing customer.

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.

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Related Blog Posts

 

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

 

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

 

How To Stop ‘Closed Lost’ Screwing Up Salesforce Dashboards

 

5 Easy Tips That Will Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend

Track Revenue Over Time In Salesforce Using Revenue Schedules

Track Revenue Over Time In Salesforce Using Revenue Schedules

Schedule Revenue Over Time In Salesforce

Take our new app for a test drive today

Many businesses need to track revenue over time in salesforce.

For example:

  • Capital equipment items that the customer draws down or pays for over time.
  • Professional services to deliver projects over time.
  • Maintenance contracts in which revenue spans 12, 24 or 36 months.
  • Software-as-a-Service (Saas) licenses on fixed term or open-ended contracts.
  • Transactional items in which you anticipate the customer will buy a significant volume over goods every month, but with no guaranteed amount.

Do any of these apply to you? Perhaps several do.

It’s common for businesses to have a mix of different revenue streams over time on the same opportunity, some managed by framework agreements.

Common Mistakes In Tracking Revenue Over Time

Unfortunately, many companies do one of two things when it comes to tracking revenue over time in salesforce.

The first is they perform this critical activity outside salesforce. That’s because they perceive it’s simply too difficult to track revenue over time in salesforce.

Consequently, those companies lose valuable visibility of committed and scheduled revenue. This impacts account management, business development, target tracking, revenue forecasting and performance management.

Alternatively, they add numerous fields to the opportunity. These fields capture revenue for Q1, Q2 and so on for each year.

Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to produce meaningful reports this way. It also results in one heck of a mess on the page layout.

There’s no need to take either of these routes.

That’s because it’s perfectly possible to track revenue over time in salesforce. The result is a significant increase in the benefits you generate from salesforce licenses.

Two ways to track revenue over time in salesforce

Essentially, there are two options.

Option 1 is to use the standard product schedules feature in salesforce. This works well for many businesses. However, there are significant limitations, which I’ll explain.

Option 2 is to use a custom schedule solution. This solves the limitations of the standard schedule functionality. Consequently, it’s a dynamic and powerful approach to tracking revenue over time in salesforce that is already benefiting many of our customers.

Let’s start with the standard approach.

Option 1 – Standard product schedules

Here’s how the standard product schedule feature tracks revenue over time in salesforce.

The salesperson adds one or more Products to an Opportunity in the normal way.

The standard product schedule feature is one way to track revenue over time in salesforce.

The salesperson then creates a Schedule for each line item. They do this by clicking on the product line item on the opportunity, then on the Establish button.

This provides the page to enter the details about the schedule for that product on the opportunity.

For each product schedule, enter the details that define revenue over time.

This generates the product schedule that tracks revenue over time for the first product.

This generates the product schedule that tracks revenue over time for the first product.

The salesperson repeats the process for any other products on the opportunity.

Advantages of standard product schedules

  • It’s standard functionality with no need to purchase a separate app.
  • Reports and dashboard charts can track revenue over time using standard product schedules.

Disadvantages of standard product schedules

  • The user interface is cumbersome. For example, the salesperson must drill down to each product line item in order to create the schedule.
  • If the opportunity close date changes, the schedules do not automatically shift. However, you can solve this problem with our Schedule Shifter app.
  • It’s impossible to customize or adapt the standard schedules. For example, you cannot add a Status field to track Booked, Shipped, Invoiced, Paid values. Likewise, you also cannot schedule by margin or other values.
  • There’s no ability track committed and pipeline revenue over time against current and future targets.

Consequently, the standard approach is appropriate if you normally have only one product per opportunity and you want an out-of-the-box way to track revenue over time.

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Option 2 – Custom Schedules to track revenue over time

A custom schedule approach overcomes the limitations of the standard product schedule feature.

Tracking revenue over time in salesforce using custom schedules means you can:

  • Forecast both committed and pipeline revenue over time.
  • Compare revenue over time in salesforce with targets.
  • Update revenue you previously forecasted based on ‘actuals’.
  • Adjust forecasts of future revenue based on current expectations.
  • Analyse revenue over time by product category, territory and other parameters.

Your system administrator can build the custom schedule solution, alternatively or you can use the pre-built GSP Custom Schedule app. We’ll demonstrate how the app works here.

With our app, when the salesperson adds one or more products to the opportunity then several additional fields are available.

With the GSP custom revenue schedules app, With our app, when the salesperson adds one or more products to the opportunity then several additional fields are available.

For each product, these fields define:

  • The method of scheduling the revenue over time. More on this below.
  • The start date when the revenue over time will begin.
  • The number of months for the revenue over time.

Clicking Save simultaneously adds the products to the opportunity AND the associated revenue schedules.

Clicking Save simultaneously adds the products to the opportunity, meaning revenue over time can be tracked in salesforce.

At any time, salespeople can use the Edit Line Item Schedules button to return modify the schedules and change the way salesforce tracks the revenue over time.

Close Date changes

If the opportunity close date changes at any point, then the custom schedules automatically adjust by the same number of days.

For example, if the opportunity close date moves by 20 days then all schedules that track revenue over time also shift by 20 days. This avoids salespeople continuously re-aligning schedules and maintains the accuracy of revenue forecasts.

Track revenue over time in reports and dashboards

Additional information is stored on the schedule including product, margin details and ‘actuals’. This information is available for reports and dashboards.

The dashboard and reports show revenue over time in salesforce and provide key management information.

Track revenue over time against target

Each custom schedule links automatically to a Target record. This means salespeople and managers can immediately assess whether there is sufficient committed and scheduled revenue over time to meet quota.

Salespeople and managers can immediately assess whether there is sufficient committed and scheduled revenue over time to meet quota.

Straight-line and S-curve revenue forecast

It’s easy to understand why you want to schedule revenue over time in salesforce using a straight line.

Service contracts, maintenance agreements, payments on capital goods, Saas licenses – they all need the ability to track revenue over time in a straight line.

However, project work is often different.

For example, frequently you have a period of mobilization in the early stages. Then you get into the heavy lifting of the project. Finally a period of testing and commissioning in which the revenue tails off.

An s-curve therefore accurately tracks the revenue on month projects. With the GSP Custom Schedule App, simply select the S-curve option in defining the schedule. The app automatically schedules revenue over time in an S-curve profile.

Advantages of custom revenue schedules

  • Easy for salespeople to us.
  • Flexibility to define different revenue profiles over time for each opportunity product.
  • Forecast accuracy is maintained because schedules automatically shift when the close date changes.
  • Track additional information over time including margin and actuals.
  • Track pipeline and committed revenue over time in salesforce.

Disadvantages of custom revenue schedules

  • Requires more setup than the standard product schedule feature (although our app takes care of this).

Many business already track revenue over time salesforce. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need our help in becoming one of them.

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

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

Recorded Webinar | 12 Must-Have Sales Dashboard Charts In 2019

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

There’s no doubt about it.

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

Yet many sales managers are frustrated.

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

But that problem can be fixed.

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

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

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

Awesome Pipeline and Sales Performance Visibility

Download the FREE Dashboard from the AppExchange today

1) Closed Won Opportunities by Month


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

2) Pipeline Deals by Close Date and Opportunity Stage


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

3) Sales Funnel Chart


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

Here’s the thing about this chart. The shape never changes.

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

So why bother with it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

More blog posts related to the sales funnel dashboard chart:

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

4) Top 10 Pipeline Accounts


In most companies, the sales team will be able to nominate immediately the top one or two prospects.

But what about the top 5? Or the top 10?

The Top Pipeline Accounts table shows customers and prospects ranked by total pipeline. This helps managers and salespeople in prioritize their time. It means salesperson effort, time and other resources is focused on areas where it is likely to have the greatest impact.

Displaying the information on a dashboard table is a good way of focusing attention on the top Accounts. Limit the dashboard table results to the top 5, 10 or 15. Then on the underlying report, list all Accounts with Open Opportunities.

In our example, we can see that High Hill Estates has the greatest amount of pipeline. In fact, it has twice as much sales pipeline as the next nearest Account.

Are we proactively managing the relationship with this Account? Is a robust key account management plan in place? Do we understanding their buying process? Have relationships been established at multiple levels? Has a clear close plan been established and validated with the customer for each opportunity?

The underlying report shows the constituent Opportunities for each Account. Can a large, single deal be done if the report reveals the total figure for High Hill Estates comprises multiple, separate opportunities? Indeed, if the CEO has time to visit only one Account, let’s make it this one.

In short, the Top 10 Pipeline Accounts dashboard table and report provide the essential information that helps executives prioritize the companies’ sales, account management and business development activities.

And don’t forget, like any other dashboard chart, replicate the table at territory, team and individual salesperson level to prioritize activity at all levels in your sales organization.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Top 10 Accounts salesforce dashboard chart.

 

 

 

More blog posts related to the Top 10 Accounts salesforce dashboard chart:

How To Build Key Account Plans In Salesforce. Demonstrates examples of key account planning within salesforce.

Stop Guessing, Start Measuring Key Accounts. Reports and salesforce dashboard charts that measure key account performance.

5) Long-Term Pipeline Trend


Dashboard chart numbers 2 to 4 describe the sales pipeline as it stands right now.

But what about the trend in the size of the sales funnel over time? Is the pipeline increasing or decreasing in size?

The Sales Pipeline As-At chart gives us the answer. It measures the size of the pipeline ‘As-At’ the 1st of each month. As such, it shows the long-term trend in the size of the sales pipeline.

Grouping the information by Historical Stage gives additional insight on the make-up of the sales pipeline. It allows us to understand the overall trend by Opportunity Stage.

In our example, the pipeline has been growing over recent months. This is largely due to a significant increase in deals in the Prospecting Stage. That’s good news. Do we understand why it has happened?

We may also want to investigate why the size of the pipeline in the Customer Evaluating and Negotiation Stages has declined. Are the sales team having trouble moving deals through the sales process? Was the pipeline created over the last few months of the right quality?

The As-At Pipeline chart has a little sister. It’s called Opportunities with Historical Trending. This chart measures the short-term trend in the pipeline. For example, the trend in the size of the pipeline over the last 4 weeks.

Use the dashboard charts in tandem to understand the trend in the size of the pipeline. The As-At report gives the big picture – it tells whether efforts to grow the pipeline in the long-run are effective. The Historical Trending chart demonstrates whether short-term initiatives to boost funnel size are successful.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Pipeline Trend salesforce dashboard chart.

 

 

 

More blog posts related to the Pipeline Trend salesforce dashboard charts:

Measure The Trend In Your Sales Pipeline. Demonstrates the Long-Term Pipeline Trend and Short-Term Pipeline Trend salesforce dashboard charts in action.

6) Open Opportunities by Created Date


Size isn’t everything. Quality matters too.

Here’s a simple but effective way to assess pipeline quality. It’s the Open Opportunities by Created Date dashboard chart.

The chart shows the existing funnel, summarized by Created Month and current Stage. You may also want to create a similar report and dashboard chart that summarizes the information by Created Month and Opportunity Owner.

Let’s say it typically takes three months to close a deal in your business. If there are significant number of opportunities open much longer than this, then are these genuine, viable deals?

As such, the chart and underlying report give executives the information they need to start the process of validating the sales pipeline.

In our example, let’s assume we are in January 2017 and that our sales cycle is typically 3 months. What about the opportunities opened in February, March and April 2016? Are we confident they are legitimate opportunities? Did the Close Dates shift regularly simply to maintain the size of the pipeline? What action should we take to bring these deals to fruition?

Reviewing the pipeline by Created Date is a simple, but effective way of identifying potentially dormant deals in your pipeline. But it also gives valuable information on how much pipeline is being created month-on-month.

Look again at our example chart. Progressively less pipeline was created over the last 3 months of the year. Should we be concerned about this? Perhaps it’s due to a strong focus by the sales team on closing existing deals before the end of the year. On the other hand, is it an early warning that we may have insufficient pipeline to meet our sales targets in Q1 2017?

Either way, we may need to implement marketing and business development initiatives to correct the trend.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Open Opportunities by Created Date salesforce dashboard chart.

 

 

 

More blog posts related to the Opportunities by Created Date salesforce dashboard chart:

How To Tell If Your Sales Funnel Is Emitting Warning Signals. salesforce dashboard charts that indicate the pipeline may contain ageing deals of low quality.

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7) Pipeline Quality Metrics Table


If you want to predict tomorrow’s weather here is the most statistically reliable way to do it. Whatever the weather is like today, forecast that is how it will be tomorrow.

Sales deals are similar.

Deals that are stuck today will probably be stuck tomorrow. Opportunities that slipped last month are more likely to slip this month.

Here are three pipeline quality metrics that act as a barometer for managers and salespeople.

1. Number of Close Date Month extensions. This counts the number of times the Opportunity Close Date has shifted from one month to another.

2. Number of Days Since The Last Stage Change. This is the number of days since the Opportunity Stage was last updated.

3. Number of Days Open. This is the number of days the Opportunity has been open. The clock stops counting when the deal is Won or Lost.

Display the information in a dashboard table. In our example, we are showing the metrics for the top 10 deals due to close this month, ranked by the number of days they have been open.

This is high impact stuff. The table is a powerful way to draw the eye to deals due to close this month that need to be scrutinized.

Are we relying on these deals to hit our sales quota this month? How confident can we be that each opportunity will not slip to another month? Will the sales cycle complete satisfactorily on those deals not updated for a significant period? That may be unlikely.

Use the table to improve the accuracy of sales forecasts. The three pipeline quality metrics do not give the answer in themselves. But they do give a heavy hint on which deals should be reviewed and need an urgent action plan.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Pipeline Quality Metrics salesforce dashboard chart.

 

 

 

More blog posts related to the Pipeline Quality Metrics dashboard table:

3 Killer Pipeline Metrics That Highlight When To Be Sceptical. Explains how to use the three metrics to identify deals that might slip from your sales forecast for this month.

8) Opportunity Conversion Ratios / Win Rates


A small increase in Opportunity conversion rates has a disproportionately high impact on overall sales revenue.

That’s why measuring opportunity conversion ratios / win rates is critical.

The Opportunity Conversion Ratio / Win Rate chart shows the percentage win rate over time. It does this in two ways:

  • Win Rate by Amount.
  • Win Rate by Count.

Measuring the win rate in both ways means we can understand whether salespeople are more effective at closing higher value or lower value deals.

In our example, the win rate by Amount is higher in most months. This means we successfully closed a greater proportion of large value deals compared to smaller opportunities.

In September and October, the situation reversed. The team successfully closed a greater proportion of lower value deals.

Did the sales team lose focus on the higher value deals? Did we discount more heavily during these months? Or did we have new joiners that had less experience with larger deals?

The underlying report gives detail about win rates at the individual salesperson level. This is crucial information for identifying coaching, training and support needs.

Nevertheless, be careful. An over-emphasis on win rates can have unwanted consequences. Do not risk encouraging sales people to leave opportunities out of the pipeline until a deal is on the table (i.e. sandbagging).

Conversely, don’t discourage salespeople from setting deals to Closed Lost when opportunities no longer have legs. You need an accurate pipeline, not one full of dormant deals that salespeople are afraid to close-out.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Opportunity Conversion Rate salesforce dashboard chart.

 

 

 

More blog posts related to the Conversion Rate salesforce dashboard chart:

How To Use Opportunity Conversion Rates For Superior Results. More in-depth examples of how to use conversion rates and opportunity win rates for effective sales performance management.

How To Measure Opportunity Win Rates Across Teams. Examples of dashboard charts that compare team and pan-company conversion rates.

9) Average size of Closed Won Deals


Recent research with one of our customers shows a 65% variation in average deal size between salespeople in one team.

That is a huge range.

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

Increasing the average deal size for salespeople at the lower end of the scale was a business development priority for this company. Addressing this issue resulted in increased sales revenue without any increase in the number of deals in the pipeline.

Many things explain variations in average deal size. These include differences in experience between salespeople, variations in the average number of products sold per opportunity and different levels of discounting by sales teams.

These are challenges that our customer addressed through training, coaching, personal development and adjustments to sales process and pricing strategy.

Nevertheless, unless you quantify this essential metric you will lack the information needed at salesperson level to identify the right course of action to boost revenue.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Average Deal Size salesforce dashboard chart.

 

 

 

More blog posts related to the Average Deal Size salesforce dashboard chart:

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size. Additional information on using average deal size metrics to identify potential improvements in sales performance. Includes examples of how Opportunity Products can be analyzed to understand which salespeople need to add more optional or non-core products to their deals.

12 Must-Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

Download the FREE eBook from our website today

10) Completed Activities per Salesperson


Sales deals do not close themselves. Pipelines do not grow automatically.

Tracking the number of completed sales Activities can provide valuable insight to explain varying levels of sales performance. Review Activity reports in conjunction with the other dashboard charts outlined in this eBook to analyse trends and variations in sales performance.

In our example, there is an upward trend in the number of Activities completed by the sales team. That’s a positive sign. Indeed, the increase in Activity volume by Sarah may be a strong contributory factor in the improvement in her sales performance over the year that we saw on other charts.

However, we can also see that there are variations in the number of Activities completed by each salesperson. Shaun and Peter have recorded significantly lower levels of Activity compared to Sarah and Dave.

Consider tracking Activity levels by salespeople in several different ways. For example, compare activity with new customers versus existing customers. This will show whether the activities undertaken by salespeople are consistent with the overall sales strategy.

Improve the effectiveness of this dashboard chart by making two small configuration changes in salesforce.

First, modify the Activity Type picklist to values that suit your business. Make the field mandatory, This will provide additional insight on the type of activities that salespeople are completing.

Second, make the Due Date mandatory. This means activities will always be associated with a date. This is essential for producing dashboard charts that accurately count the number of activities completed each month.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Activities salesforce dashboard chart.

 

 

 

More blog posts related to the Activities salesforce dashboard chart:

How To Spot Key Accounts You Should Be Focusing On. Explains how to use Activity Reports and dashboard charts to identify key accounts that need a renewed focus.

11) Leaking Funnel Report


Every sales funnel leaks. That’s the nature of the game. It’s why the traditional sales pipeline chart is shaped like a funnel.

But there’s two things that sales managers need to know about funnel leakage. Is the funnel leaking excessively? And is it leaking in the right place? The Leaking Funnel report tells you both of these things.

This dashboard chart measures the number of times Opportunities have moved to Closed Lost from each preceding Opportunity Stage. In our chart, it does this for deals that have been set to Closed Lost in the last 120 days.

For example, the dashboard chart shows that 8 Opportunities have moved from Prospecting, directly to Closed Lost.

All other things being equal, it is good that the first Opportunity Stage has the largest number of Opportunities that move to Closed Lost.

This implies we are qualifying-out deals we are unlikely to win. It means salespeople are not wasting time, effort and resources chasing deals when there is no clear competitive advantage.

However, look at the Negotiation Stage. Five Opportunities went directly from Negotiation to Closed Lost.

Again – all other things being equal – that movement in Opportunity Stage is bad news. It means we invested a considerable amount of time and effort moving the deal through the sales cycle, only to lose the opportunity at the last moment.

Of course, we need further investigation on the movement from Negotiation to Closed Lost before deciding on the right course of action. Is the trend attributable to one particular salesperson? How does the data compare for existing versus new customers? Does it apply only to opportunities with certain product groups?

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Leaking Funnel salesforce dashboard chart.

 

 

 

More blog posts related to the Leaking Funnel salesforce dashboard chart:

3 Steps To Plug A Leaking Sales Funnel In The Right Place. How to measure where and when the sales funnel is leaking in order to take the right action.

12) Sales Performance versus Target


Measuring sales performance against target is a fundamental aspect of managing a sales team.

However, there is no Target tab in salesforce.

So how do you measure sales versus target or quota? Well, there are three ways to do this in salesforce.

  • Use a gauge on a dashboard.
  • Use the Forecasts tab.
  • Use the GSP target tracker solution.

It’s the first of those options we illustrate here.

The dashboard gauge runs from a report that measures Closed Won opportunities. Manually calibrate the red, amber and green settings within the dashboard chart settings.

The dashboard gauge option is quick and easy to implement. The downside, compared to the other two options, is that it provides no insight on whether there is sufficient pipeline to meet the sales target next month or this quarter.

Separate gauges need to be used to track performance versus target for each individual salesperson and sales team.

The Forecasts Tab provides advanced functionality for target tracking, including the ability of managers to override their subordinates targets. It is, however, relatively complex to operate and salespeople and managers need significant training to use it effectively.

The GSP Target Tracker App provides easy-to-understand charts and additional metrics to measure sales versus target. It also automates the forecasting process and avoids the need for sales people to create or update manual sales forecasts. The App also allows sales managers and salespeople to determine whether there is sufficient pipeline to meet target for this month and future months.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Target gauge salesforce dashboard chart.

 

 

 

More blog posts related to the Target Gauge salesforce dashboard chart:

3 Ways To Measure Sales Versus Target in Salesforce. Explains the options for measuring sales performance against target in salesforce – dashboard gauge, Forecasts tab and the Target Tracker.

Is Your Sales Funnel Big Enough To Make Your Revenue Target. Using a custom solution such as the Target Tracker to measure expected revenue against target.

Measure Sales Performance Versus Target

Interested in this app? Get in touch with us today

Recorded Webinar | 12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts

Join Gary Smith, CEO of The Gary Smith Partnership and Senior Consultant Dan Bailey. Gary and Dan demonstrate the 12 charts in action and the contribution each makes to performance improvement and pipeline management.

Related Blog Posts

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

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

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

Schedule Revenue Over Time In Salesforce

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

Many result in multiple orders and payments over time.

But here are two common mistakes companies make in salesforce:

  • They do use repeat opportunities when they shouldn’t, and sometimes
  • They don’t use repeat opportunities when they should.

The result?

  • Your sales process is far more convoluted than necessary.
  • It’s difficult to get accurate pipeline visibility.
  • Key sales metrics that give visibility of the size, quality and trend in the pipeline are distorted.

So here are five situations in which you may think repeat opportunities have a role to play in salesforce.

In each of these commonly occurring scenarios, companies receive multiple payments over time. So are repeat opportunities the best way to handle each situation?

Here’s a simple way to answer this question:

Decide whether future revenue is in jeopardy.

If the answer is yes, then repeat opportunities are probably required.

However, if the answer is no, then you probably don’t need repeat opportunities.

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

Repeat opportunities with software as a service

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

Sidetrade delivers its platform on a SaaS basis. Customers sign-up for a fixed term contract for a number of years. Payment is on an annual basis.

Sidetrade doesn’t need recurring or repeat opportunities each year.

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

Therefore, instead of repeat opportunities, Sidetrade forecasts future revenue using Schedules.

For sure, Sidetrade will aim to sell additional services or upgrades to the customer.

However, Sidetrade handles this using additional opportunities. These are new opportunities for incremental revenue rather than repeat opportunities.

Repeat opportunities with insurance premiums

Based near Toronto, Aboriginal Insurance Services (AIS) sells 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 area.

The insurance and premium is always for one year of cover.

AIS will aim to renew the policy with the community. However, there’s no guarantee of this renewal.

In fact, future revenue is in considerable jeopardy. Each year, competitors will seek to undercut AIS or offer more product benefits.

Therefore, it’s right for AIS to create a repeat opportunity to manage the renewal. It is a separate sales process. AIS will apply proactive key account planning to optimize the chances of success.

There is, however, no certainty of a positive outcome.

12 Must-Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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Repeat opportunities with service contracts

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

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

The customer pays an annual fee for the support.

However, MAM don’t use repeat opportunities.

That’s because the customer is contractually committed for the duration of the support arrangement. The revenue is secured. It’s not in jeopardy.

Instead, MAM has a single opportunity. Products with Schedules are used to forecast future revenue. This means MAM has an accurate, forward-looking view of secured revenue.

Repeat 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.

Modernis offers the analytics products in a software-as-a-service platform.

However, the sales process often involves two distinct stages.

First, Modernis provides chargeable proof-of-concept access to their platform. Later, once customers have experienced the value that the platform brings, Modernis sells 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 opportunity represents the sales process for the chargeable proof-of-concept.

A second opportunity is automatically created. This represents the sales process for the full contract.

So the company uses repeat opportunities – at least of a type. This is because commitment to the full contract is not a given.

Rather, 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 once the contract is signed, the revenue is not in jeopardy. Therefore, no repeat 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 often relates to a large 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 significant purchase from GVR.

One the one hand, a long-term contract benefits both parties.

On the other hand, the customer doesn’t want delivery of all the petrol pumps manufactured and delivered in one go!

Rather, they need 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. However, the month-on-month revenue is variable.

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. The GVR Account Manager updates the schedules each month with the actual orders.

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.

Implementation points to consider with repeat opportunities:

  • Consider triggering the repeat opportunity automatically. This avoids the subsequent opportunity being forgotten about. That trigger happens when the original opportunity is won or at some other predetermined point in the process.
  • Measure the win-loss ratio for the repeat opportunity separately to the initial opportunity.
  • Consider using 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. However, only use repeat opportunities when it is right to do so. And if it isn’t right, then try revenue schedules instead.

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