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4 Types Of Framework Agreement You Can Manage In Salesforce

4 Types Of Framework Agreement You Can Manage In Salesforce

Framework agreements exist in virtually every industry.

They are the backbone of many business relationships. So naturally, you want to manage your framework agreements in Salesforce.

Unfortunately, people often struggle to do this. For example, sometimes, they create repeat or recurring opportunities. This approach means you have lots of deals but poor visibility of forecast revenue.

It’s also not popular with the salespeople that have to create all these opportunities!

That’s why in this article, I’m showing you exactly how to manage your framework agreements in Salesforce.

Let’s begin.

Types of Framework Agreement

Framework agreements are contracts between buyers and sellers that describe the overarching terms of the commercial relationship. Usually, supplementary documents define precisely what, how, and when the customer receives the products and services.

Here are four types of framework agreement you can manage in Salesforce:

  1. Drawdown.
  2. Regular Order.
  3. Occasional Order.
  4. License to Hunt.

1. Drawdown Framework Agreements

In this case, customers draw down products each month against an overall assumed volume.

Often, there is an assumed order quantity each month at the start of the agreement. In practice, the actual order quantity usually varies from month to month.

Example

Based in Greensboro, NC, Gilbarco Veeder Root is one of the world’s largest gas (petrol) pumps manufacturers.

The company has drawdown framework agreements with many petrol and gas retailers. These documents define the products, pricing, commercial arrangements, and legal terms of the contract.

However, the petrol retailer does not want to receive all the pumps in one go. That’s because they want delivery in line with a gas station re-fit program.

2. Regular Order Framework Agreements

Many companies that sell large volumes of relatively small-ticket items or consumables use regular order framework agreements.

The customer places regular orders when they need to re-stock. Often, the customer does this directly via an online portal. The framework contract covers the terms and conditions of these orders.

Example

Zimmer Biomet sells consumable products to dental practices in the UK and the US.

The company creates a regular order framework agreement with the dental practice. The contract specifies the price for each product based on the anticipated volume. It also describes the training support, marketing, and other services that Zimmer Biomet will provide.

The practice places orders every few weeks using a portal. There’s a streamlined process for packing, shipping, and invoicing each order to the customer.

A review of each framework agreement compares actual orders with the anticipated volume each year. Sometimes the product pricing changes if there is a significant difference between the expected and actual order volume.

3. Occasional Order Framework Agreements

With these framework agreements, customers place occasional rather than regular orders.

The framework agreement covers commercial terms and general legal terms. However, separate specifications define the products and services of each order. Often, a Statement of Work (SoW) describes these specifications.

Example

For example, Evolve provides services to fit and equip medical labs across Europe.

Designing and equipping each new lab is a significant undertaking. However, often these labs are within large pharma or government bodies with whom Evolve regularly works.

Evolves, therefore sets up a framework agreement with each organization. This agreement defines the labor rates and other terms that apply to the company’s work.

Of course, no two labs are alike.

Each project needs careful collaboration with the customer to define the specific products and services required. An SoW describes these details, drawing on the pricing and rates agreed in the framework agreement.

4. License To Hunt Framework Agreements

A license to hunt framework agreement allows one party to seek-out deals in another business or group of companies.

It’s common in financial services and many other industries.

Example

Based in the UK, Embark provides financial products to brokers, and they secure a license to hunt framework in two ways.

First, they do deals with large multi-branch brokerages.

The head office of the brokerage makes framework agreements with selected providers in each market category. Choosing Embark as one of these providers means the company can visit the branches and persuade individual brokers to use their products.

Second, Embark makes framework agreements with buying groups.

For example, these buying groups arrange purchasing contracts for many small brokers.

The agreements cover products, fees, training, legal services, and commission. The license to hunt allows Embark to visit the buying group members to promote and sell their products.

How To Manage Framework Agreements In Salesforce

With framework agreements, usually, no money changes hands when the deal concludes.

Instead, the revenue accrues over time.

With that in mind, let’s see how you can manage the four types of framework agreement in Salesforce.

1. Drawdown Framework Agreements In Salesforce

Products are schedules are vital to managing drawdown framework agreements in Salesforce.

I’ll explain:

An Opportunity represents the process you go through to agree on a framework agreement. 

As usual, you track the progress using the Opportunity Stage field.

Then, you add Products to the Opportunity. These represent the goods and services the customer will buy over the agreement’s lifetime.

By the way, if you have many products, you can use the GSP Product Selection Wizard. The app makes it much easier for salespeople to add Products to Opportunities in Salesforce than the standard interface.

At the same time as adding the product, you create a revenue schedule. The schedule describes how the customer will draw down the products and services over time.

Here’s an example:

Let’s assume the customer is buying 60 generators over 12 months. To make the math easy, let’s reckon each generator costs $1000.

The Opportunity has a total value of $60,000, and you can see the figure in the Amount field.

From a gross sales perspective, the deal is worth $60,000.

However, as we know, that’s only half the story.

That’s because the sales revenue will come to us over time; not all at one go.

Revenue Schedules by GSP

Improve forecasting by scheduling opportunity
revenue over time.

How to Forecast Revenue On Drawdown Agreements

We can use revenue schedules in Salesforce to forecast the month-on-month order value.

The schedules spread the income over time.

Using the GSP Product Schedules app, you can create this revenue forecast while adding the Product to the Opportunity.

In this example, we are setting the start date for the revenue and the number of months.

This means we now have a reliable view of the revenue over time.

Schedule revenue over time on framework agreements.

As you can see, we’ve scheduled $5,000 of monthly revenue over 12 months.

However, you might be wondering:

What if the revenue forecast isn’t a straight line?

No problem.

The app means you can adjust the revenue schedule month by month.

In summary, Products and Revenue Schedules are an excellent way to manage drawdown framework agreements in Salesforce.

2. Manage Regular Order Framework Agreements in Salesforce

To manage regular order framework agreements in Salesforce, you also need an opportunity.

However, often this opportunity is created at the start of the year. It represents the total value of orders you expect from the customer over the year.

Nevertheless, as with the drawdown framework agreement, we need to schedule that revenue over time. So again, we can use the GSP Product Schedules app to do this.

But this time, let’s go one step further.

We update the revenue schedules based on how the year is panning out.

This information is vital for account managers. It means we can compare the value of the business expected at the start of the year with the latest forecast of actual revenue.

We can sum this by company, territory, and salesperson.

Revenue schedule report in Salesforce.

As a result, account managers have high visibility of the order trend for each customer.

For example, the team at Zimmer Biomet uses these reports to segment customers, drive business development activity, and implement marketing campaigns.

The team also measures account manager performance based on the customer’s quantity and value of orders.

Here’s one more thing they do: they track discount approval on the regular order framework agreement.

They store all information about the rationale for any discount in the Chatter feed. In other words, directly on the Opportunity. 

As a result, the information is always available quickly. You don’t have to search high and low for the email trail.

One reason for this is that the promise of future orders may justify a discount. However, the customer may fall short.

At the very least, when re-negotiating the framework agreement, you need to know if the customer met their commitments. 

Storing the rationale for the discount in the Chatter feed keeps this critical information visible and easy to find.

Here you can find more tips on controlling price discounts using Salesforce.

3. Manage Occasional Order Framework Agreements in Salesforce

With these types of framework agreements, you take a different approach.

There are, however, some similarities with the regular-order method. That’s because you create an opportunity to manage the process of securing the framework agreement.

This opportunity has a notional value only. So make sure you filter it out of the main pipeline reports and dashboard charts.

So far, it’s similar to how you manage regular order framework agreements in Salesforce.

However, there’s no expectation of relatively small orders weekly or monthly. Instead, you need to work with the customer to identify new projects and opportunities.

That’s where opportunities come into it. You manage the sales process for these projects through separate opportunities in Salesforce.

Here’s another thing:

The framework agreement will often define a specific set of product prices that apply to future opportunities. To do this, you create a unique Price Book just for that customer.

For example, Mercatus Solutions in the UK has a small number of strategic customers. These represent 15% of the total customer base. Yet they account for 70% of revenue.

Mercatus has agreed on specific rates and prices with each of these customers.

To ensure each opportunity has the correct price book, they use the GSP Auto Price Book Selector. This app makes sure your team uses the right Price Book in every case.

The GSP Auto Price Book Selector is an effective way to make sure salespeople consistently apply the right Price Book to Opportunities. Check the link for more details.

4. Manage License To Hunt Framework Agreements in Salesforce

This solution is similar to the way you manage occasional order agreements.

You use an opportunity to track the sales process of getting the framework agreement secured. This opportunity has a notional value, which I recommend you based on the 12 month or long-term anticipated value of related deals.

However, be sure to exclude these types of opportunities from your pipeline of ‘paying’ deals.

After the framework agreement is in place, you create a different opportunity for each Account where you are hoping to do business.

In other words, you create a new opportunity for active prospects within the overall organization. You might want to use an Ultimate Parent function to get a complete view of all the Opportunities.

Ideally, use Products and Schedules on these opportunities to define and track revenue over time in Salesforce.

In summary:

This article has explained the four types of framework agreement you can manage in Salesforce.

Need any help or more advice? Don’t hesitate to get in touch today.

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4 Types Of Framework Agreement You Can Manage In Salesforce

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Opportunity Stages Explained With Best Practice Recommendations

The Opportunity Stages in Salesforce should match your sales process.

However, the chances are, you think they don’t.

That’s likely to be especially true if you’re still using the standard opportunity stages—those out-of-the-box stages in Salesforce.

Of course, you can change them. (If you’re unsure how to do this, I explain the steps thoroughly in the video at the end of this post).

However, if the pre-defined stages are not what you need, the question is, what should the Salesforce opportunity stages be in your business?

I’ve seen this provoke many heated discussions. The answer is often a fudge, and the outcome, sometimes, is far too many stages.

Nevertheless, getting the opportunity stages to reflect your sales process accurately is essential. The benefits include greater visibility of the sales funnel and better pipeline management, and you’ll also get reliable pipeline coverage metrics and better tracking of sales versus target.

In this complete guide, we cover:

  • How opportunity stages work and why they are critical.
  • The four common mistakes to avoid.
  • The five popular opportunity stages many companies use.
  • How to make the changes in Salesforce.
  • Best practices tips and advice you can use today.

Not only that, but I also point you to other helpful resources that help you get the best out of Salesforce. We even have a free special offer for you at the end of this article.

By the way, I also created a video to accompany this blog post: Six Recommended Opportunity Stages. I explain each stage and give examples of exit criteria.

6 Recommended Opportunity Stages In Salesforce

With that, let’s start.

Why Opportunity Stages Are Important

Opportunity stages play a critical role in pipeline management. They are also vital for accurate sales forecasts.

To understand why let’s take an example.

Opportunity stages play a critical role in pipeline management, and they are vital for accurate sales forecasts.

To understand why let’s take an example.

This dashboard chart shows how the stages combine with the Close Date and Amount. It’s a great way to summarize the pipeline.

For example, we can see that the funnel contains $750K of opportunities due to close in November.

Of this, $40K is currently at the Prospecting Stage, and another $50K is in the Investigation Stage. You can easily see the values for the other stages.

You get the picture.

This type of chart is vital because it helps managers forecast accurately and prioritize sales activities.

Pro tip: To learn more about pipeline visibility and accurate forecasting, I recommend this blog post:

The Best Sales Pipeline Chart To Use This Year. Step-by-step advice for getting reliable funnel visibility.

Opportunity Stages Explained

Opportunity stages describe the high-level phases within your sales process. In a CRM system, salespeople update the opportunity stage as the deal moves through the sales process.

Having realistic opportunity stages is critical for sales managers because you get much better pipeline visibility.

Pro tip: Install our free Salesforce dashboard to get the pipeline reports and charts we recommend. More than 5,000 people have already downloaded it.
On the other hand, if your opportunity stages don’t reflect your sales process, you can’t rely on your pipeline reports and sales forecasts.

 

Opportunity Stages and Probabilities

In Salesforce, each opportunity stage links to a pre-defined percentage probability. You can change these quickly (I cover the steps in the video at the end).

When a salesperson selects a stage, the deal takes on the relevant percentage. However, not everyone knows that salespeople can override the default probability.
Sometimes, it’s right to do this. For example, let’s say you’re selling to an existing long-term customer. That means the chances of winning the deal are higher compared to a new prospect. The salesperson can adjust the probability to reflect this.
Pro tip: Use this blog post to learn about probabilities, expected revenue, and weighted pipeline forecasts.

How To Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend. Detailed advice on using the opportunity probability to your advantage.

Opportunity Stages and Forecast Categories

Forecast Categories in Salesforce are a way of grouping opportunity stages.

That means they are a valuable way of summarizing the pipeline. That’s why some businesses use forecast categories to build their sales projections.

If you’re into the Forecasts Tab, you’ll find it makes extensive use of Forecast Categories.

However, in my opinion, the Forecasts Tab is very complex. The tab is supposed to help create forecasts and track sales versus quota. However, many salespeople and managers find it challenging to use.

Fortunately, it’s only one of four ways to measure sales versus target in Salesforce. To understand all four, I recommend this blog post:

4 Ways To Track Sales Versus Target In Salesforce.

Five Common Opportunity Stage Mistakes to Avoid

Here are the five things I often see companies doing wrong when it comes to opportunity stages. I’ve included a best practices tip on avoiding or fixing the error in each case.

 

1. Stages are not clear

It’s essential that opportunity stages are well defined and do not overlap. Unfortunately, many times I see unclear stages.

Always, ambiguity here is a big mistake. That’s because a deal may be in one stage when it really should be in another. The result is that funnel visibility is unreliable because it’s distorted.

For example, I worked recently with a client that had stages of Closing and Negotiation.

What’s the difference? I didn’t know. And more importantly, neither did the sales team.

The result is that reports and dashboard charts didn’t deliver meaningful information on deals likely to close soon.

Best practice:

Make sure opportunity stages are clear, unambiguous, and do not overlap. Establish exit criteria for each stage. Communicate the meaning and definition of each stage clearly to salespeople.

Pro tip: Use the Lighting Path to summarize each stage’s definition and exit criteria.

2. Opportunity Stages don’t reflect the sales process

In an ideal world, opportunity stages reflect the customer buying process. That way, the pipeline reflects where each deal is along the buying journey.

Unfortunately, there are three problems with this.

First, every customer’s buying process is different. That means it’s hard to standardize, and you’d end up with a lot of varying opportunity stages.

Second, the customer may not want to give us full details of their buying journey, where they are up to, and who is involved.

Third, even our key contacts may not fully understand the buying process. That’s likely to be especially true if it’s a significant investment they haven’t made before and there are many stakeholders.

So what do you do?

The answer is to make sure your opportunity stages reflect your sales process. That way, you do at least know where you stand from an internal point of view.

Nevertheless, there is work to do. The standard opportunity stages that come out of the box with Salesforce are unlikely to mirror your sales process.

That means you need to change them. (The video at the end of this blog post explains how to customize the opportunity stages in Salesforce).

Later in this blog post, I’ll explain the five opportunity stages that many B2B companies already use.

Nevertheless, you might be wondering:

What if I have more than one sales process?

For example, in many companies, there’s a defined sales process for new customers. And another, shorter one for renewals or upgrades.

I recommend you use Opportunity Record Types to handle this.

It means you create different record types for each sales process. Then modify the opportunity stage picklist for each record type. In other words, only include those stages relevant to each record type.

Best practice:

Modify the standard opportunity stages in Salesforce to align with your sales process tightly. Use opportunity record types if you have more than one sales process in your business.

 

3. There are too many Opportunity Stages

If you have too many opportunity stages, this is what happens:

In other words, you cannot see the wood for the trees. Unfortunately, pipeline visibility deteriorates rather than improves if you have too many stages.

Here are three reasons why this happens.

  1. The business is trying to get too granular in measuring the pipeline.
  2. You are not using record types to separate different sales processes.
  3. You use the opportunity stage field to track post-sales activities such as delivery or fulfillment.

If you have a very long sales cycle or want more detail on where each deal is in the sales process, I recommend tracking sub-stages in a separate field.

Likewise, use other fields to capture post-sales progress. Using the stage picklist to track post-sales progress makes reporting on won deals or win rates more challenging.

 

Best practice:

Don’t overdo things. Stick to four or five pipeline stages for clarity on the sales funnel. Use other fields if you need extra information or want to record post-sale progress.

 

4. Opportunity Stages are not verbs

It’s a mistake to use milestones as opportunity stages. Instead, I recommend you use verbs.

For example, Qualifying is better than Qualified. That’s because Qualifying describes the status of the deal over time. In contrast, Qualified is a milestone that means you probably proceed to the next stage. However, it doesn’t tell you anything about what is happening right now.

(We’ll talk about whether Qualifying is a stage you should include later. You might be surprised).

Likewise, I sometimes see a stage like First Meeting. However, the deal is only in that state for the hour it takes to conduct the call. It’s much better to use Discovery or Investigation. Those words give a better sense of the meetings, phone calls, and email exchanges taking place over time.

In other words, each stage should reflect the status of a deal over time.

That period might be weeks or even months. During this time, the salesperson does many things to move the opportunity along. Consequently, action-oriented opportunity stages are better than milestone-based stages.

 

Best practice:

Use opportunity stages that represent a series of customer interactions over time. I recommend you avoid stages that sound like one-off milestones. Instead, verbs are almost always the better choice.

 

5. Opportunity Stages are not up to date

As we’ve seen, its crucial opportunity stages accurately reflect the sales process.

However, it’s also essential that salespeople maintain the stages of each deal. If not, then pipeline reports and sales forecasts count for nothing.

For example, this sales dashboard chart shows the current pipeline.

Let’s assume we are in the last week of November, and the sales cycle in this business is three months.

Here’s the first question:

Are those deals in Prospecting and Discovery that are due to close in November really at the right opportunity stages?

If they are, then you’re right skeptical about whether they really will close successfully this month.

That means my pipeline view is probably not accurate. Either the deals should be at a more advanced stage or a different close date (or both).

And here’s the second question:

What are those open deals doing in earlier months? Unless you have a time-turner, they are not going to close successfully in previous months.

Either way, failure to keep opportunity stages up to date will ruin your funnel visibility.

Best practice:

Make sure everyone understands the importance of updating and maintaining the stage on each opportunity. Create a formula field that shows the number of days since the last opportunity stage change. Combine this metric with others, such as the number of times the Close Date has moved from one month to the next. Use these metrics to validate your sales pipeline reports.

Pro tip: Our GSP Sales Dashboard includes the vital metrics described here. I recommend this blog post for advice and best practices on using these metrics.

3 Killer Pipeline Quality Metrics That Highlight When To Be Sceptical.

For more information on these Opportunity mistakes and the best practices to avoid them, see this video: Five Opportunity Stage Mistakes To Avoid.

5 Opportunity Stage Mistakes To Avoid In Salesforce

Recommended Opportunity Stages

How should you change the opportunity stages in Salesforce? These are the opportunity stages used by many of our customers.

  • Prospecting (or Qualifying).
  • Discovery (or Needs Analysis).
  • Customer Evaluating (or Proposal).
  • Closing (or Negotiation).
  • Closed Won.
  • Closed Lost.

Some businesses have additional variations of Closed Lost. Qualified Out and No Purchase are examples of this.

Let’s crack on.

 

The Prospecting (or Qualifying) Opportunity Stage

These deals are in the first stage of your sales process. Opportunities in this stage are your long-term pipeline.

Often, you think there’s a deal, but right now, it’s far from certain.

The customer may not yet have a budget or timescale commitment. The Close Date is uncertain and can be many months in the future.

Sometimes, the customer – if asked – might not even agree that a potential deal yet exists. That’s because you are busy educating the stakeholders on how the status quo needs to change.

Nevertheless, entering deals in this stage is valuable because it’s essential to keep track of those long-term prospects you are targetting.

The primary outcome of this stage is deciding whether to spend more time, effort and resources working on this opportunity.

To determine this, ask these four questions:

  1. Is there an opportunity?
  2. Can we win it?
  3. Is it worth winning?
  4. Do we want to win it?
Pro tip: Want to get notified when we publish our upcoming blog post on qualifying opportunities? Register here to receive an email alert.

You might think questions three and four sound similar. Nevertheless, they are different.

‘Is it worth winning?’ is an economic question. Are the revenue and margin worth the cost and effort?

‘Do we want to win it?’ is a strategic question. Existing customer relationships or marketplace dynamics may give a compelling reason to attempt to win the deal. These factors may apply even if it’s not that attractive economically.

Currently, you may not be able to answer these questions definitively. However, there needs to be enough information to decide whether to move to the next phase.

Incidentally, I prefer the term Prospecting rather than Qualifying for opportunities at this stage.

That’s because, as Alan Morton, CEO of SBR, says, “qualifying is a continuous activity throughout the sales lifecycle; it’s not a one-off step early in the process.”

Either way, many Prospecting opportunities will be removed directly from the pipeline at this stage. That’s fine. Don’t waste time with deals that don’t have legs.

Exit Criteria

  • Positive answers to the questions that qualify the deal.

 

The Discovery (or Needs Analysis) Stage

The traditional way to think about this stage is to find out about the customer’s business situation.

The aim is to align the proposal or quote you send in the next stage with precisely what the customer wants.

However, the best salespeople go far beyond this.

They are not passively listening to the customer. Instead, they often directly influence or change how the customer perceives their needs. This activity is widespread in cases where the customer plans to issue an RFP. You want to bend the content to align with the capabilities of your products and services.

Likewise, high-performing salespeople also find out about many other factors influencing their chances of a successful outcome. They ask questions about the decision-making process and gather much information about the people involved. They also gain vital details about the budget and timescales and collect news about competitors.

That’s why I prefer the term Discovery to Needs Analysis because it better describes what is happening in a successful sales process.

Finally, in this stage, re-ask the four qualification questions. You can now answer with more conviction and certainty. If these answers are not compelling, remove the deal from your pipeline.

Exit Criteria

  • There is clarity around how the customer views their needs.
  • A thorough understanding of the buying process and the people involved.
  • You have updated the qualification questions with convincing answers.

 

The Customer Evaluating (or Proposal) Stage

In this stage, the Customer receives your proposal or quote. To proceed beyond this stage, the Customer must agree, in principle at least, to do business with you.

Of course, you do not have to issue a formal quote. However, you are communicating specific pricing and scope proposals. In other words, stakeholders within the customer business are evaluating the particular value your company is offering.

(If the stakeholders are not evaluating your proposals, the deal is lost or at a different stage).

In many companies, this opportunity stage is called Proposal Made or suchlike.

I’m okay with that, although I believe that Customer Evaluating more accurately reflects the activity both you and the prospect are probably doing.

That’s because other activities might include proof of concept demos, reference visits, or a short video to demonstrate the solution.

These activities might happen before you send your detailed proposals. Some companies also prefer to siphon these activities into an earlier stage (Demonstrating Value, for example). Whether you need to do this depends upon your sales process.

Pro tip: Sales expert Alan Morton says, “If you want to do one thing to increase your conversion rates, it’s this: don’t send your proposals, present them.”

Exit Criteria

  • A commitment from the customer (in principle at least) to do business with you.
  • Agreement on the essential details of your proposal, even if the precise details and finer points still need to be hammered out.
  • A detailed Close Plan agreed with the customer. These are the specific steps required to get ink on the contract.

 

Closing (or Negotiating) Stage

Many people call this final pipeline stage Negotiating.

I prefer Closing, for several reasons:

  • Negotiating implies we are likely to make concessions on pricing or terms and conditions.
  • Closing better describes the complete set of activities probably needed to get the deal done.

There’s likely to be a discussion on the commercial terms. And almost certainly, there’s a legal contract to finalize and get signed.

However, I recommend you think through all the other activities that need to take place. These may include handing the deal over for fulfillment, briefing customer services, or agreeing on a delivery schedule.

If you have a project to deliver after winning the deal or other fulfillment steps, I recommend you track the status in different fields, not the opportunity stage. That’s because adding new post-sales stages muddies the water when it comes to measuring win rates and sales performance.

Pro tip: Often, you need to schedule the total revenue over time. Standard Salesforce functionality is weak in this area. Check out the GSP Revenue Schedules app if you need to spread opportunity revenue over time.

Exit Criteria

  • A contract signed by the customer.
  • Other critical details (e.g., delivery plan) are agreed upon and documented.

 

Closed Won

The deal has concluded successfully. The contract has a signature — time for a celebration.

Pro tip: After the drinks, I recommend this blog post: How To Measure Opportunity Conversion Rates and Win Ratios. The article explains the right and wrong ways to measure win rates.

Closed Lost

Use this stage when the deal is not proceeding.

Perhaps the customer decided the products or services from another supplier offered a better solution.

Alternatively, you may have decided not to expend more time and effort on the opportunity. For example, you could not write compelling answers to the ‘four questions’ test we looked at in earlier stages.

Remember, it’s vital to re-examine and upgrade your answers at each step in the sales process. This process is not a one-off activity that takes place at the start of the sales cycle. Instead, it should happen every time you are ready to move from one stage to the next.

As my friend Bud Suse likes to say, “if you’re going to lose, you might as well lose early.

Of course, there’s another scenario. The biggest competitor for many companies is ‘Did Not Proceed.’ In other words, the customer decided not to go ahead with the project, or it simply fizzled out.

Both cases mean you might want to use two further stages.

‘Qualified Out’ means there is not enough mutual benefit for either party to spend any more time and effort on the deal. ‘No Purchase’ indicates the customer did not commit to any supplier.

Either way, open opportunities that no longer have legs are the most significant source of over-inflated sales pipelines and inaccurate revenue forecasts. If you want reliable pipeline visibility, it’s essential to remove lost deals and dormant opportunities with no realistic chance of ever proceeding.

Pro tip: The Opportunity Stage Movement report is an excellent tool to identify and analyze these deals. This report tracks the ‘From’ stage for all sales set to Closed Lost. It means you can monitor funnel leakage and work out ways to improve the sales process.

Opportunity Stages in Salesforce Lightning

I recommend using two features in the Salesforce Lightning that help with opportunity stages.

 

Sales Path

First, use the path to display the stages.

Salespeople click on the path to move the opportunity to the next stage.

I recommend you adjust the path to include a stage definition, vital activities, and exit criteria.

Kanban View

The Kanban view gives salespeople a dynamic display of all deals.

Salespeople drag and drop opportunities from one stage to another. It’s a quick and easy tool for updating deals and keeping the pipeline accurate.

How To Change Opportunity Stages In Salesforce

The default opportunity stages in Salesforce are:

  1. Prospecting
  2. Qualification
  3. Needs Analysis
  4. Value Proposition
  5. Decision Makers
  6. Perception Analysis
  7. Proposal/Price Quote
  8. Negotiation/Review
  9. Closed Won
  10. Closed Lost

In this video, I show you step by step how to change these default stages to values that suit your business.

How To Change Opportunity Stages In Salesforce

Getting In touch

You’ve seen how critical it is to get your opportunity stages right.

That’s why we have a free offer for you.

Get in touch, and we’ll hold a thirty-minute web meeting with you to talk through your stages. We’ll help you decide upon the settings that best suit your business. No charge, no gimmicks.

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How To Know When To Transfer Leads From Marketing To Sales

Passing leads from marketing to sales at the right time is critical for maximizing deal conversion rates.

Too early, and salespeople will likely ignore the leads.

Too late, and you are wasting valuable sales opportunities because the prospect has gone elsewhere.

Of course, that lead transfer inflection point varies from company to company. So, how do you know when it’s the right time to pass leads from marketing to sales in your business?

Fortunately, you can use the rules and best practices explained here
to define when to handover leads from marketing to sales in your company.

The Lead Transfer Problem

It’s early December, and the snow is falling outside the building in Illinois.

Inside the room, it’s even chillier.

“The leads we get marketing are rubbish,” exclaims the VP of Sales to the rest of the group.

“How the hell would you know?” spits back the VP of Marketing. “Your team never phones any of the leads we DO give you!”.

The feeling of mutual dissatisfaction may not be as glaring in your company. However, a version of this anecdote often plays out in many companies.

So why does it happen?

Leads That Are Not Sales Ready

It’s easier to identify leads that are not ready to pass from marketing to sales than those that are.

For example, have you ever downloaded an eBook and thought, “That sounds interesting. I’ll read it when I’ve got five minutes.”?

By the way, the image above relates to the most downloaded piece of content on our website: eBOOK: 12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard.

(Don’t worry, we won’t be passing you through to Sales!)

Of course, those five minutes rarely arrive. Some people have an entire library of eBooks they never got around to reading.

Nevertheless, many people are not surprised to receive a call from sales after downloading an eBook. However, how much do you look forward to receiving those calls?

In short:
Most people whose only engagement with your company is downloading an ebook are not yet ready to speak to a salesperson.

In many companies, it’s the same with webinars.

“It will be like shooting fish in a barrel,” the VP of Marketing at a large London-based online training company told me.

Paul had finished a webinar a few minutes earlier—with an impressive 476 new attendees. He passed the spreadsheet over to sales and expected a bumper sales month.

Unfortunately, Paul was disappointed. Do you want to guess how many sales came from those webinar attendees?

That’s right, precisely zero. None whatsoever.

Partly that was because salespeople didn’t phone many of the leads. And those they did phone, the typical response was, “Thanks, I’m just researching at the moment.”

Sales and Marketing Priorities

Here’s the juxtaposition:

Marketing is under pressure to increase leads. Sales are under pressure to increase revenue.

However, the sales team often focuses on reasonably short timeframes. That usually means salespeople don’t have the time, inclination, tools, or skills to convert early-stage, unqualified leads into warm prospects.

That explains why early-stage leads passed from marketing to sales are often ignored. Or, at best, low down the priority list. For salespeople, focussing on opportunities already in the pipeline is a better way to hit your number.

Of course, it’s critical for marketing to build fresh leads. Without them, there’s no longer-term funnel.

And what’s more, there ARE new leads that come into marketing ready to be called immediately by sales.

So here’s the problem:

How do you know which leads to transfer to sales now and which to continue to nurture? And how do you identify those leads that are straightaway hot to trot?

The answer is to make these calls based on five guidelines.

Here they are.

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Five Lead Transfer Guidelines

These are the five guidelines that help you pass leads from marketing to sales at the right time.

  1. Vary the lead handover process based on lead source.
  2. Track changes in the lead score to identify urgent prospects.
  3. Change your method if you have an inside sales team.
  4. Set the bar higher if you are in a mature marketplace.
  5. Flex the lead transfer threshold over time.

Let’s dive in.

1 – Vary The Process By Lead Source

In most CRM systems, Salesforce included the Lead Source picklist tells you where the lead originated.

When you import a list of leads, for example, you manually set an appropriate Lead Source.

However, I recommend you automatically set the Lead Source by using a hidden field on your website forms.
As a result, you can accelerate new leads from specific forms. For example, if the customer completes a Contact Us form, you likely want to push that lead immediately to an appropriate salesperson.

Alternatively, when the prospect downloads an eBook, whitepaper, registers for a webinar, or fills some other non-urgent form, you may decide to add the lead to a nurture program.

In summary: the first step in finding a better way to handover leads from marketing to sales to differentiate your process by Lead Source.

So far, so good.

Let’s talk about a more contentious topic.

2 – Tracking Lead Score Changes

Lots of companies use a lead score threshold to decide when to transfer leads from marketing to sales.

You need to be using a marketing automation system, like Pardot, Marketo, or Hubspot, to make this work.

Points accumulate as the prospect engages with email, web pages, and other marketing communications. Sometimes, points are also assigned based on firmographic information, such as location, industry, or sector.

When the lead passes the threshold, say 200 points, it transfers from marketing to sales.

The lead score is valuable when you need to prioritize. For example, let’s say there’s only time to call one more person today. You have a lead with 500 points and another with 200 points. Which do you phone?

Of course, all other things being equal, you call the lead with 500 points.

However, here’s the rub when it comes to lead scores:

Often, it’s not the lead score that matters most. Instead, it’s the change in the lead score.

For example, let’s say those 500 points accumulated steadily over the last twelve months.

On the other hand, suppose the other lead gathered all 200 points over the last five days.

Which lead do you phone first now?

Most people will go for the lead with 200 points. There’s a greater urgency with this prospect. In other words, it’s not only the total lead score that is important; the pace of change in the lead score is critical.

Bottom line: Use the lead score change as a vital input in deciding when to pass lead from marketing to sales.

For more information on the best way to track Lead Score change and how to view the results inside Salesforce, read this blog post: How To Track Changes In The Lead Score And Highlight Priority Prospects

3 – Existence of an Inside Sales Team

If you have a team – or even a single person – that can engage with low point-scoring leads, then you can adapt your lead process.

That’s because rather than handing leads directly from marketing to sales, you first qualify them using the inside sales team.

Conversely, if you rely only on marketing activities to nurture leads, you rely more heavily on inbound leads.

Here’s why.

  1. When an inside sales team member speaks to a lead, one of three outcomes occurs.There’s no further action. The prospect is not sufficiently interested, or not in a relevant segment, to justify any more effort.
  2. It’s a definite maybe. There’s moderate interest, and you likely schedule a follow-up call.
  3. It’s a qualified lead. The person is willing to engage with a salesperson.

Either way, there’s a lot of time and effort needed to arrive at these outcomes. It’s hard work trying to contact people, there’s a fair degree of rejection, and you often have to work through a relatively large number of leads to get a positive outcome.

Pro tip: If you have an inside sales team, consider using the High Velocity Sales (HVS) app within Salesforce to optimize productivity and results.

In short: adapt your lead process and the point at which you pass leads from marketing to sales, based on whether you have an inside sales team qualification capability.

4 – Marketplace and Product Maturity

Many products and services we take for granted today were novel when first introduced.

For example, 18 years ago, when I first started implementing Salesforce, few people ‘got’ cloud computing. I remember watching Marc Benioff bang about the benefits of multi-tenant architecture in presentation after each presentation.

But here’s the thing.

Back then, Salesforce salespeople would take any lead. There was little or no pre-qualification because the team knew the customer didn’t understand the internet in a business context. Instead, they had to educate prospects about security, flexibility, and access from any device.

Things are different now.

The marketplace has matured. You’d be pretty surprised to hear about a CRM system that needs a bank of in-house servers.

Consequently, the way Salesforce deals with new leads is radically different today. The company employs an army of inside sales team members. There’s an extensive set of qualification questions, and you have to come clean on your business priorities, your buying process, and the stakeholders involved.

In other words, the more unique your proposition, the less informed your buyers, and the more immature the marketplace and your company, the lower the threshold is likely to be for passing leads from marketing to sales.

Bottom line: consider the dynamics of your market, business, and customers when you define the inflection point for transferring leads to salespeople.

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5 – Flex The Lead Transfer Threshold Over Time

You’ve established a lead score threshold, and you are tracking the change in lead score over time. However, it doesn’t mean your lead management process and the point you transfer leads from marketing to sales has to be locked in stone.

There are two reasons why you need to be flexible with your approach over time.

First, tests and experiments will improve the process.

I recommend you use track lead outcomes in Salesforce reports and dashboards.

However, you can also learn from qualitative feedback from salespeople. Using Chatter on the lead is an excellent way to gather this softer feedback on salespeople’s lead outcomes.

Apply both of these information sources to test what works well and what does not. Flex and adapt your process and measure the results.

Second, both the marketplace and your company change over time. Some businesses are swamped with new work during the pandemic. Others are ticking along, and some are merely trying to survive.

The lead management process and marketing-to-sales transfer approach working well one year ago may no longer be appropriate. You will need to change it.

In the future, marketplace and business changes will be (hopefully) less dramatic. Nevertheless, I recommend you regularly review and adjust your lead handover processes.

In short: regularly review and assess how your lead transfer process can improve over time. Experiment with different approaches and test the outcomes using feedback from sales.

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5 Compelling Ways To Increase Your Salesforce Benefits This Year

5 Compelling Ways To Increase Your Salesforce Benefits This Year

It’s always possible to increase your Salesforce benefits. Our customers have proved it time and time again.

And every business wants to maximise its’ Salesforce benefits in 2021. But how will you do it?

Here are five ways our customers achieved this in 2020. See which ones apply to you.

1. Measure sales against target in Salesforce

Every sales team needs to track sales performance against target. It’s fundamental to effective sales management. But there’s no target tab in Salesforce. This means many businesses export data out of Salesforce to measure performance against target.

But they don’t need to. Here are three ways to measure sales versus target in Salesforce.com. You can:

  • Use a simple dashboard gauge. This measures revenue against a pre-determined target number.
  • Use the Forecasts tab. This is an advanced management tool and provides strong forecasting functionality.
  • Use a custom solution. Simpler and more automated than the Forecasts tab, this automatically links Opportunities to a target at the User, Account or Product Category level.

How to measure 2021 sales targets in Salesforce explains the three options in more detail and tells you when each is appropriate We also have an accompanying webinar recording that demonstrates the three options in action. And Is Your Sales Funnel Big Enough To Meet Your Sales Target explains how to create an accurate sales forecast in Salesforce.

2. Add Products to Opportunities

Do you use Opportunities in Salesforce? But you don’t use Products? Then you have the chance to further boost your Salesforce benefits.

But that might not be your first reaction. Not every business uses Products. Here are five reasons why customers initially don’t use Products:

  • “We’ve too many Products.”
  • “We sell large Products configured from multiple smaller items.”
  • “We sell our Products as bundles, not individual items.”
  • “We don’t sell Products. We sell intangible services such as consultancy, training or support contracts.”
  • “We sell items we purchase from third parties e.g. telephony companies that sell products and services from end manufacturers.”

We provide simple ways to overcome each of these perceived obstacles. And the benefits of using Products in Salesforce are significant:

  • Improved visibility of the sales funnel.
  • Improved accuracy of Opportunity Amounts and values.
  • Increased potential to identify up-sell and cross sell possibilities.
  • Improved control over pricing and discounts.
  • Streamlined business processes including automated quote and proposal production.

If you’re new to Products then Learn the basics about Products will get you started in understanding how to achieve these benefits.  And using a product selection wizard makes it easy for sales people to add products to opportunities.

3. Build great Salesforce dashboards

When a Salesforce.com sales executive demonstrates Salesforce to potential customers, guess what’s the first thing they show? Dashboards.

There’s a reason for this. Improved visibility of the sales funnel and sales performance is the single biggest benefit that Sales Managers gain from an effective Salesforce environment. And the way to get that visibility is dashboards.

Yet so many executives don’t have the dashboards that allow them to manage the sales team effectively. That means they can’t take the proactive steps needed to drive revenue growth.

A well-constructed sales dashboard allows managers to answer the question, “Where do I need to focus attention in order to increase future revenue?” To do this, the dashboard should focus on five key areas:

  • The size of the sales funnel.
  • The quality of the sales funnel.
  • The trend in the sales funnel.
  • The sales performance against target.
  • The lessons from historical performance.

The good news is that poor dashboards are easy to fix. Doing so will lead to a step change in your Salesforce benefits. 12 examples of the charts that should be on your Salesforce dashboard gives great examples of how to get started. Download the accompanying Powerpoint if you want to use it for future reference.

And if you’ve a set of good quality Salesforce reports, configure your dashboards to make the information easily accessible. 10 best practice tips for awesome Salesforce dashboards contains excellent advice on how to do just that.

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4. Clean up your Salesforce data

Poor data quality bedevils sales people. If you’ve three versions of the same Account – or the same Contact – how do you know which one to record an Opportunity against? Or update a phone number? Or log a call?

And if you’re preparing for a meeting, where do you look?

Duplicate data usually isn’t the only problem. Very often essential data is missing. Or old data needs to be updated.

Just thinking about how to address poor data quality can bring on a headache. But if you go about it in a structured way, it’s not as daunting as you think.

You can improve existing data by exporting it to Excel, cleaning it up and then re-uploading the data to Salesforce. 10 tips to prepare your Salesforce data gives good advice on how to improve your data. The post refers specifically to preparing your data in readiness for the initial import, but the data improvement principles are exactly the same for existing data.

What about duplicates? We wouldn’t merge data in Excel using the Find Duplicates function. You’ll lose any data that’s related to the records you merge. Instead, there are essentially two options for merging data within Salesforce.com:

  • Use the standard buttons. Click on the Accounts tab to find the Merge Accounts link. It’s over on the right at the bottom of the page. The Merge Contacts button appears on the standard Account page layout, just above the Contacts section. Both of these functions are a little slow – you’ve got to search for the duplicates record by record – but for manageable volumes of data they do the job.
  • Use a third-party tool. There are plenty on the AppExchange. These tools use advanced technology, including fuzzy logic, to search for duplicates. They also make the job of merging the duplicate records a whole lot easier. On the other hand you have to pay a license fee for using the application.

Here’s where you can find data cleansing and de-duplication applications on the AppExchange.

5. Use Chatter to work more effectively

Hands up if you think Chatter is like Facebook? Well it isn’t. It’s a whole lot more useful.

Here are five examples of the way our customers gain benefit from Chatter:

      • Get automated updates on Opportunities and the sales funnel.
      • Collaborate more effectively during the sales process.
      • Share important information on customers, prospects, partners and competitors.
      • Help resolve customer service issues and problems quickly and easily.
      • Drive Salesforce user adoption by encouraging useful dialogue within the application.

Chatter doesn’t replace email. But for those organisations that use Chatter effectively, it certainly cuts down on the flow and volume of email. And Chatter provides a much quicker and easier way of sharing succinct and relevant information amongst people within a business.

However there’s more to successfully using Chatter than simply switching it on. Use these 10 tips for a successful Chatter roll out to boost Chatter benefits in your business.

What next?

So there you have it – 5 compelling ways to increase your Salesforce benefits. But there’s more. Watch out next month for 5 MORE ways to increase Salesforce benefits.

Of course don’t hesitate to get in touch if you want to discuss how any of these ideas can be implemented in your own business.

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How To Build A Sales Process In Salesforce

How To Build A Sales Process In Salesforce

This guide explains how to build a sales process in Salesforce.

For example, if you want to know about creating BANT, MEDDIC, NTARBO, SCOTSMAN, or any other sales methodology in Salesforce, I explain it right here.

(I also explain what each of those terms stands for).

Why Build Your Sales Process In Salesforce

Very often, it’s not only what you sell that wins the deal. Instead, it’s the way you sell it.

And the sales process describes the way you sell.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a sales process, then salespeople are left ‘to do their own thing.’ Few successful teams work this way.

Of course, that’s not to say there isn’t room for individual salesperson flair, creativity, and flexibility.

They are the reasons some salespeople consistently outperform others.

Nevertheless, the best salespeople do this within the framework of the company sales methodology. Like wild geese, they fly in formation.

Bottom line:

Sales process adoption is critical for driving sales. That’s because instead of winging it, salespeople operate in a pre-defined, best practice way relevant to your company.

Building your sales methodology in Salesforce is crucial for driving this adoption.

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How To Build A Sales Process in Salesforce

Create a sales process in Salesforce by following these four steps:

  1. Define your Opportunity Stages.
  2. Create the fields that your sales process needs.
  3. Add custom features to control your sales process.
  4. Embed hints, tips, and materials that help salespeople with each stage in the sales process.

Let’s dive in.

 

Define your Opportunity Stages

Few companies find the standard Opportunity Stages in Salesforce match their sales process.

However, many firms find it challenging to agree on the perfect set of Opportunity Stages for their business.

If that’s true in your business, this blog post will help you; it’s the second most visited article on our website: Opportunity Stages Explained With Best Practice Recommendations.

Incidentally, if you’re wondering which article is the most popular, it’s this one: 12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts | With Video And Examples.

Change the Opportunity Stages in Salesforce by following these steps:

  1. Go to Setup > Object Manager > Opportunity.

2. Click on Fields & Relationships > Stage.

3. Under the section “Opportunity Stages Picklist Values”, you’ll notice the option to create new stages, or edit details of already created stages.

4. Click “New”. Populate the stage details, and click save.

5. Once saved, the custom Opportunity stage will appear in your list of Opportunity stages. Click “Reorder” to adjust the position of your stage within the Sales Process.

Reorder your newly created Opportunity stage using the Reorder button

I’ve also created this short video showing how to modify the Opportunity Stages in Salesforce.

 

How To Change Opportunity Stages In Salesforce

How To Change Opportunity Stages In Salesforce

However, there’s more to building a sales process in Salesforce than merely modifying the Opportunity Stages.

 

Create Fields That Support Your Sales Process

Next, define the fields in Salesforce that support your sales process.

There are two ways to do this.

  1. Build the fields directly on the opportunity.
  2. Create the fields in a custom object that links to the opportunity.

I’ll explain:

Sales methodology fields on the opportunity

Let’s use the BANT sales methodology as an example of sales process fields on the opportunity.

BANT stands for:

Budget.
Authority.
Need.
Timescale.

Here is an example of the BANT fields on an opportunity.

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In other words, the information used in the sales methodology is directly visible on the opportunity. As you’ll see, that’s different from the custom object approach.

 

Sales methodology fields on a custom object

Let’s use the SCOTSMAN sales methodology to illustrate the sales process fields in a custom object.

SCOTSMAN stands for:

Solution.
Competition.
Originality.
Timescale.
Size.
Money.
Authority.
Need.

There are two essential differences between SCOTSMAN and BANT. First, there’s more information to collect during the sales cycle; eight fields rather than four.

Second, SCOTSMAN also uses a scoring system on each item to give an overall opportunity value.

You can use this value as a qualification stage-gate as the deal moves through the sales cycle. For example, the score must be 22 to move from Needs Analysis to Proposal; and 28 to move from Proposal to Closing.

Let me show you:

Here’s an Opportunity with a SCOTSMAN custom object:

And here are the fields on the custom object.

As you can see, there’s a lot more information to collect. Adding all this to the opportunity is going to make the page layout unwieldy. That’s why we use the custom object.

Of course, we can still roll up the overall SCOTSMAN score to the opportunity.

You can use the same approach for these other sales methodologies:

NTARBO, standing for:
Need.
Timeline
Authority.
Budget.
Obstacles.
Question.

MEDDIC, standing for:
Metrics.
Economic Buyer.
Decision Criteria.
Decision Process.
Identify Pain.
Champion.

Whichever sales methodology you use, the critical point is this:

Create the fields in Salesforce that support your approach.

 

Add Custom Features That Control Your Sales Process

The most widely used control feature in Salesforce is the validation rule.

Validation rules insist users enter data into fields based on conditional logic.

For example, this validation rule means that salespeople must have entered information into the Budget field to move it past the Needs Analysis Stage.

In other words, this validation rule controls the stage exit criteria for Needs Analysis.

That explains why validation rules play an important role in sales process adoption. They are great for making sure critical data is gathered at each stage. That includes information needed during the fulfillment or customer onboarding process.

However:
I recommend you don’t overdo it; too many validation rules merely frustrate users and reduce adoption.

Instead, think about the value-adding features you can use in Salesforce to enhance the sales methodology.

That’s what we’ll cover next.

 

Embed Useful Sales Process Features

Three ways you can use Salesforce to add value to the sales methodology are:

  • Lightning Path.
  • Field Hover tips.
  • Salesforce Page Tabs.

Lightning Path

The Path is the set of chevrons across the top of a Salesforce Lightning page.

However, you can use the Path to deliver must-know information about each opportunity stage.

Here’s an example for the Consult & Educate stage.

And here’s another example for the Remove All Risk Stage.

It’s straightforward to do this yourself. Follow these steps.

  1. Navigate to Path Settings in Lightning setup.
  2. Click New Path.
  3. Enter a Path Name (merely type one or two descriptive words), select the Object, and the field you want to use for the Path. If you are creating a Path on the opportunity, you probably need the Stage field. If you are using opportunity record types, create different paths for each record type.
  4. In the Guidance For Success box for each stage, enter the essential text that helps salespeople with this step in your sales methodology.
  5. Optionally, add selected fields to the Path. These fields will still appear in the main page layout.
  6. Click Next, then Activate your Path.

Pro Tip: Include links to other resources in your Lightning Path. For example, a link to product features and benefits in the Proposal element of the Path.

Field Hover Tips

Field Hover Tips give guidance about specific fields. They appear when the salesperson places their mouse over the hover icon next to the field.

Here’s an example, using the Budget field:

Hover Tips are super-easy to create:

  1. Go to the field in Setup.
  2. Click Edit next to the field.
  3. Enter your hover tip in the Help Text section.
  4. Click Save.

Next, let’s look at my favorite feature for adding value to the sales process in Salesforce.

 

Salesforce Lightning Page Tabs

You know all about Salesforce Lightning Page tabs. Typically, you use them for Details, Activities, and Related Lists.

However, you can also use these tabs to provide salespeople with detailed guidance about the sales process.

For example, our partners SBR create playbooks that super-charge customers’ sales processes.

The playbook contains vital details that give the salesperson a competitive advantage at each point in the sales lifecycle.

These include:

  • Tactical advice that gives the team a ‘slight-edge’ over competitors.
  • Advice on building essential, high-quality stakeholder relationships.
  • Qualification criteria for moving to the next stage.
  • How to overcome the typical obstacles you get at each step.
  • Links to value-adding collateral, specs, and marketing tools.

There’s a separate page of the playbook for each stage in the sales methodology. Here’s a customer example for the Engage Stage.

Of course, playbooks help existing salespeople drive opportunities. However, they also mean new hires quickly get up to speed.

So, this is how to embed that page in Salesforce: use a Lightning Page Tab. Here’s an example for the Consult & Co-create Insight stage:

Move to the next stage, and the salesperson sees a different page of the playbook.

The Sales Playbook page changing as the Opportunity Stage changes

Here’s how to embed the sales playbook in Salesforce:

  1. Upload the pages individually as Static Resources.
  2. Create a new Custom Setting called ‘Playbook Mapping’ and find the Stage Name you want the page for.
  3. For example the Stage Name ‘Approach’ maps to the URL for the ‘SBR_Playbook3’ page. Find that page in the Static Resource, and click the name, then click ‘View File’.
  4. In the address bar of the resulting PDF, copy everything after ‘/resource/’.
  5. This is the text you need to map the ‘Approach’ stage to in the Custom Setting.
  6. Once mapped, the relevant PDF document will display on any Opportunities with the corresponding stage name.

Let’s face it, you might need some help with this. If you need some assistance, don’t hesitate to get in touch via our Contact Us form.

So now you have your sales methodology created in Salesforce.

What’s next?

    Use Sales Pipeline Reports and Dashboard in Salesforce

    I recommend you include essential fields about your sales methodology in pipeline reports and dashboard charts.

    In section 1 gave you links to detailed blog posts that explain how to use these reports. You should also download our free dashboard from the AppExchange. It contains the twelve most essential charts and reports for pipeline visibility.

    There are two other things you can do immediately.
    First, get a free consultation from GSP on how to create your sales process in Salesforce. We’ll give you advice and pointers that are specific to your company.

    Second, get a free web meeting with SBR to determine how a sales playbook will help drive revenue growth in your business.

    In both cases, all you have to do is complete our Contact Us form; we’ll be in touch to arrange a time with you.

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    How Contact Roles Can Increase Your Opportunity Win Rate

    How Contact Roles Can Increase Your Opportunity Win Rate

    Using Contact Roles in Salesforce increases your chances of winning a deal.

    That’s what I’ve consistently found amongst my clients.

    Why?

    Unless it’s a transactional sale, there’s always more than one person involved in the buying process.

    Even if you are only engaging with a single individual, you can bet others are involved.

    After all, how often do you get to ‘yes,’ only for that person to say, “I’ll just need to run this by my boss”? (Swap ‘boss’ for one or more of legal, finance, procurement, technical, the user group, ‘the powers that be’).

    A graphic showing multiple people involved in a buying process.

    Sometimes it seems the whole company has something to say about your deal.

    But here’s the thing:

    If you don’t think through – and list – all these people, then your close plan is almost certainly incomplete. And that means a reduced chance of winning the deal.

    On the other hand, companies that use Contact Roles in Salesforce consistently get fewer last-minute challenges.

    Of course, there’s a kicker:

    Companies that use Contact Roles properly are often those that have a superior sales process. Contact Roles are part of this process.

    Nevertheless, even if your sales process is currently flaky, using this simple functionality will improve your team’s conversion rates and help you more win deals.

    The reason?

    Using Salesforce Contact Roles drives thinking about deal stakeholders and the buying center. It challenges salespeople to unearth other people that might scupper the deal. Colleagues, peers, and managers can review and validate the close plan. And marketing communications can be more segmented and targeted.

    So what’s not to like?

    In this guide, I explain everything you need to know about Contact Roles in Salesforce. The guide includes best practice tips, advice on configuring Contact Roles in Salesforce Lightning, and recommendations on reports and dashboard charts.

    Let’s dive in.

    Contact Roles On Opportunities

    Most sales automation systems, including Salesforce Lightning and Classic, have a feature called Contact Roles.

    Contact Roles define the people external to your company that influence decision making on a sales opportunity. You specify the type of influence (e.g., Gatekeeper, Budget Approver, Technical Reviewer) that each person has on the deal.

    Most Contact Roles relate to people that work at the customer organization. However, they can also include external influencers such as consultants that work for another company.

    Avoid This Mistake

    There’s a ‘wrong’ way to record the people that influence a deal. It’s an error that many companies make.

    Here it is. The mistake is to create a field on the Opportunity that ‘looks-up’ to the Contact object.

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    Here’s the main problem with this approach.

    You are only recording the relationship between one Contact and the Opportunity. What about all the other people playing a role in the buying center?

    It also delivers poor reporting. We’ll come onto Salesforce reports and charts on Contact Roles in a moment.

    Now I’m going to show you how to do it properly.

     

    How To Use Opportunity Contact Roles

    It’s straightforward for salespeople to add Contact Roles in Salesforce Lightning. (It’s a similar process in Salesforce Classic).

    Hover over the Related List and click Add Contact Roles.

    The page shows all the Contacts on the Account. You can look for Contacts at other companies in the search box at the top of the page.

    Select one more of the Contacts and click Next.

    Then define the role each person plays on the Opportunity. (I’ll explain how to customize these values shortly).

    Before you click Save, look at the Primary Contact section at the top of the page. Use this to define your critical person at the customer company.

    Click Save. Now you can see the Contact Roles added to the Opportunity. 

    In this example, Andy Young is the Primary Contact. We’ve added two other people from the customer company influencing the buying process. Another person, Ashley James, works for another company. She’s involved in the deal as an external consultant.

    So now we have an excellent picture of the buying center. Our close plan must reflect the impact each of these people has on the decision-making process.

     

    Other Ways To Add Contact Roles

    There are two other ways to create Contact Roles in Salesforce Lightning and Classic.

    If you create a new Opportunity from a Contact rather than an Account, Salesforce automatically creates a new Contact Role record for the person.

    The other way Contact Roles get added automatically is when you convert a Lead.

    In this case, the resulting Contact automatically links to the Opportunity as a Contact Role.

    Of course, you now want to add the other people involved in the Opportunity to complete the buying group in both cases.

    How To Setup Contact Roles

    To use Contact Roles in Salesforce Lightning, follow these two steps.

    1. Add Contact Roles to the Opportunity Related List page layout.
    2. Customize the Contact Role picklist values to suit your business.

    Both of these steps are super-simple, although there’s a small ‘gotcha’ on the second of these.

    To add Contact Roles to the page layout, go to Setup, Object Manager, Opportunity, Page Layout.

    Then drag Contact Roles onto the Related List section of the page layout and hit Save.

    Add Contact Roles to the Opportunity Related Lists

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    If you have multiple Opportunity page layouts, then do this for each one.

    Next, you likely want to customize the picklist values. Here are the standard set of values you get out-of-the-box.

    To customize Contact Roles in Salesforce Lightning, follow these steps.

    1. Go to Setup.
    2. On the left-hand side, scroll down and open Feature Settings (it’s under ‘PLATFORM TOOLS’).
    3. Open Sales.
    4. Click on Contact Roles for Opportunities.

    This screenshot shows you exactly where to find the Contact Roles customization setting in Lightning.

    If you prefer to do your customization in Classic, it’s a little simpler.

    Go to Setup, Customize, Opportunities.

    Either way, you’re ready to modify the picklist values. Here are the customized Contact Role picklist values used by many of our clients.

    Are you surprised there’s that many?

    Well,  Gartner’s research finds that the buying group in a complex B2B sale typically involves six to ten people.

    That means your Contact Role picklist values need to cover the full range of potential players on any sales deal. Without that, your close plan has gaps that mean your likelihood of winning the contract reduces.

    How To Use Opportunity Partner Roles

    Sometimes other companies, not just people, play a critical role in the buying group.

    Use Opportunity Partner Roles when other companies such as consulting firms, technical advisors, buying groups, and procurement specialists are engaged in the customer decision making and purchasing process.

    As with Contact Roles, you can modify the picklist values for Partner Roles. However, unlike Contact Roles, you need to do this customization in Salesforce Classic; it’s not currently available in Lightning.

    Specifically, look for Partner Roles under Accounts in the Classic setup area.

    The result?

    You now have full visibility of the people and companies playing a vital role in the deals you are trying to win.

    That means you can create a deal management strategy and close plan that reduces the risk of unforeseen stakeholders upsetting your apple cart at the last minute!

    Use Contact Roles Today

    It’s not difficult to set up and use Contact Roles in Salesforce.

    Add the Related List to your page layouts and customize the picklist values to suit your business.

    Then the most critical step. Plan your approach to each Opportunity by identifying and managing the people that matter in your sales process.

    Of course, for a free consultation that will increase your Salesforce benefits, get in touch today.

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    To Exceed Year-End Quota, Apply These Q4 Sales Strategies Now

    To Exceed Year-End Quota, Apply These Q4 Sales Strategies Now

    It’s the time of year when sales teams worldwide are under pressure to get deals closed in Quarter 4 and meet year-end quotas.

    I have worked with many companies under their quarter and year-end pressure.

    Here’s what I’ve found:

    Successful teams apply five year-end sales strategies:

    1. Sort the wheat from the chaff.
    2. Adjust direction based on whether there is enough pipeline to hit quota.
    3. Prioritize time and energy on high impact deals.
    4. Create a close plan for each high priority opportunity.
    5. Protect themselves against margin-eating discounts.

    The best bit?

    These strategies are all working well right now, during Covid-hit 2020.

    This guide explains how to implement these five end-of-year sales strategies in your company QUICKLY.

    Q4 Sales Strategies

    These Q4 sales strategies significantly increase the likelihood you will hit quota.

    Let’s dive in.

    1 – Sort the wheat from the chaff

    This strategy is the first that successful executives apply at year-end.

    They weed out deals that with the best will in the world will not close successfully in Q4. Doing this makes the other four sales strategies far quicker to implement.

    For example, let’s go back to January 2020.

    Sarah Jones is under pressure to boost the size of her sales pipeline.

    The pressure is coming from the VP of Sales. “Come on, Sarah, you’ve got lots of potential in that territory. Let’s ramp up the pipeline.”

    You can’t blame him.

    The Board is setting aggressive growth targets for the year and expects the VP of Sales to deliver.

    Sarah works through her Accounts.

    She picks a prospect with whom she had a meeting three months ago. “I reckon there’s a decent chance with this one,” she thinks.

    Sarah creates an opportunity in Salesforce.

    “It’s bound to close sometime this year,” she says to herself, hopefully.

    Naturally, Sarah doesn’t want to put herself under any undue pressure. That means she enters the Close Date as December 31, 2020.

    The pipeline has increased. Everyone is happy, for now.

    However, fast forward eleven months. Sarah is under pressure to hit her year-end quota.

    On the face of it, there’s plenty of deals in the funnel. But even Sarah, ever the optimist, knows she’s drawing a blank on many of these deals.

    Especially those forecast to close on December 31.

    In other words, the pipeline is bloated with deals that no longer (if ever) had legs. However, the most successful sales executives remove these distractions from the funnel to get real visibility of the pipeline.

    There are three ways to go about sorting the wheat from the chaff with Q4 deals in your company.

     

    Review Opportunity Stages and Get Real

    In Sarah’s company, here’s what the pipeline looks like by the time we reach Q4.

    There’s a surge of deals due to close in December. Ask yourself whether these are realistic opportunities.

    For example, if the sales cycle is typically three months, then are the deals in the prospecting and investigation stages of the sales pipeline realistically going to close in Q4?

    In other words, the first step is to review deals by Stage and Close Date. Remove dormant opportunities from the pipeline. And move deals that still have legs, but realistically won’t close in Q4, to a later date.

    It’s tough love, but vital.

     

    Review Opportunities by Created Date

    Here’s another way to assess the strength of the Q4 pipeline. Look at deals due to close in Q4, by Created Date.

    Again, if the sales cycle is three months, carefully examine deals that have been open substantially longer.

    Shake them out of the tree if they’re unlikely to close this quarter.

     

    Analyse Pipeline Quality Metrics

    In addition to the age, two other deal metrics provide insight on sales pipeline quality.

    • The number of Close Date month extensions.
    • The number of days since the last Stage change.
    This dashboard table highlights these quality metrics for deals due to close in Q4.

    We can see, for example, the Oxted Manufacturing opportunity has been open 237 days. The Opportunity Stage was last updated 100 days ago, and the Close Date has moved from one month to another four times.

    Do those pipeline quality metrics give you confidence the deal will close successfully in Q4? They don’t work for me.

    So that’s the first of the Q4 sales strategies: Sort the wheat from the chaff.

    Doing this will help hugely with the remaining year-end strategies.

    Of course, you want to get these pipeline quality metrics and reports quickly.

    Here’s a blog helps you. It precisely explains how to use the reports and get the pipeline quality metrics and dashboard for free:

    12 Charts That Should Be On Your Sales Dashboard.

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    2 – Compare the pipeline to your sales target

    This Q4 sales strategy recommendation is critical.

    You need to know whether the real pipeline is big enough to hit your remaining year-end sales quota.

    Why?

    If you have enough pipeline, you can focus on closing the deals you already have.

    However, if the funnel is not big enough to hit your target, you need to increase your pipeline AND focus on closing the deals you already have.

    That’s two very different approaches.

    Do you see why it’s essential first to weed out the dormant deals and the no-chance opportunities?

    So, you might be wondering:

    How do I know if the pipeline is big enough for me to hit the target?

    Of course, you can take the deals already won and add the full value of the pipeline.

    Often, that will give you a positive feeling. After all, the two added together will likely exceed the quota.

    Unfortunately, it’s divorced from reality. I doubt you are going to win 100% of your sales pipeline.

    A more pragmatic way is to set a realistic probability of winning each deal. Then use this to calculate the Expected Revenue of the pipeline.

    And of course, remember that in Salesforce, you do not have to accept the default probability associated with each Stage. Modify these probabilities on each opportunity, based on the likelihood of winning the deal.

    Then, determine whether you have enough pipeline to hit your Q4 target. You can do this with a Salesforce report based on Expected Revenue. Include both Closed Won and pipeline deals.
    Next, compare the total value in the report with your target. Now you know whether you have enough pipeline to hit your target.

    Of course, if you have a shortfall, it may not be easy to find new deals that will close in Q4.

    The circumstances will be different for every business.

    However, are there existing customers to whom repeat sales are possible? What about upgrades? Can you make cross-sales to customers that bought certain products?

    Only you know the answer to these questions.

    However, ideally, you don’t leave it until Q4 to measure the pipeline against your target.

    This blog post explains how to track won and pipeline deals versus your sales quotas in Salesforce:

    4 Ways To Measure Sales Versus Target In Salesforce.

    What’s next?

    3 – Prioritize high impact deals

    Focus time, resources, and energy on opportunities that make the most significant contribution to quota.

    Sounds obvious, right?

    But how do we decide which opportunities are high impact?

    Here are three questions to ask that help to identify the most critical opportunities.

    • Can we win it?
    • Is it worth winning?
    • Do we want to win it?

    You can answer the first two questions by creating a report that lists the opportunities by Stage, Amount, and Probability:

    You may also want to adapt the report to categorize the pipeline by existing customers and new logos.

    After all, new logos have more kudos. But existing customer deals are often easier to win.

    Consider also whether there are Accounts with multiple opportunities.

    In Chart 6 of the GSP Sales Dashboard, we include a table and report that shows the pipeline by Account.

    In this example, GenePoint has opportunities due to close in Q1 AND Q2 next year. Is it possible to amalgamate these deals into one more significant opportunity, with a successful close in Q4?

    You can also quickly identify the deals you and your team will focus on using a different field, “Q4 Focus”.

    What about that final question? Do we want to win it?

    The deal may be significant, but if you need to discount heavily or other onerous terms, the opportunity may not be worth winning.

    So ask yourself whether we want to win this deal in Q4. Is it better to wait until next quarter, when the commercial dynamics may be different?

    With that, let’s talk about how to close the critical opportunities.

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    4 – Create a Close Plan for each opportunity

    Most successful sales executives create a Close Plan for the essential deals on which they are working.

    These plans are especially vital in Q4 when the pressure is most significant.

    However, there’s no need to overdo it.

    You can enter the Close Plan using a simple rich text field on the opportunity.

    Alternatively, enter it into the Chatter feed for each opportunity. Using Chatter makes it easier for colleagues and internal stakeholders to collaborate on the deal.
    Either way, the Close Plan defines the specific activities needed to bring the deal to a conclusion.

    Often you do this by working backward. Identify the latest date you need to get the deal inked. Sometimes, holidays and other constraints mean the realistic latest date is circa December 20.

    In other words, much earlier than December 31.

    Then, work out the timeline for all the steps that must take place. Occasionally, you’ll find it just can’t be done. If the only way you can achieve the reference site visits, contract negotiations, and other actions is by starting in the past, remove the opportunity from your Q4 priority list.

    Likewise, agree on the Go / No Go Date with your prospect.

    This date is not the day you expect the deal to close. Nor is it a commitment by the customer that she will sign the contract.

    Instead, it is the deadline by which you and the customer will aim to close the deal one way or the other.

    For example, this date might be December 15.

    We don’t know whether the outcome will be a won or lost deal. However, the Go / No Go date is the point at which you and the prospect both agree the opportunity can no longer be closed in Q4. Instead, you will revisit the deal in the New Year.

    It’s a great way of focusing everyone’s mind and gaining commitment to the Close Plan.

    In Salesforce, record these dates in a custom field. Track them through a report and the Q4 dashboard chart.

    So far, our year-end sales strategies are about identifying real deals, prioritizing effort, and achieving successful outcomes.

    The final Q4 strategy is different.

    5 – Protect against damaging discounts

    We all know that customers and prospects gain extra discounts and volume related deals in return for committing in Q4.

    That’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

    Indeed, many companies have inadvertently trained their customers to leave purchases to the end of each quarter.

    However, successful sales executives keep track of each discount and give-away rationale, especially those given in Q4.

    For example, you give a discount or preferential terms because the customer agrees to buy 10,000 units over the next twelve months. Perhaps you arrange this in a framework agreement.

    Keep a record of the rationale for the discount or special terms. That’s because, let’s say, it turns out the customer only ever orders 8,000 or 9,000 units.

    You won’t always go back and negotiate a retrospective price increase.

    However, this information is invaluable when negotiating future discounts. That’s especially true right now when the customer is putting you under pressure on a Q4 close.

    Look back over historical deals. Did the customer fulfill their side of the bargain? If not, use this information to strengthen your negotiating hand.

    The Chatter feed on each opportunity is an excellent place to record the rationale for discounts and other terms given away in return for customer commitments. That’s because the information is always right there, on the opportunity, not buried in your email box.

    That’s the fifth of the Q4 sales strategies that successful executives apply:

    They keep track of the rationale behind the agreement and make this information easy to find when under pressure.

    Our blog post, 10 Expert Tips For Improving Discount Control, has excellent advice on managing margin-busting discounts.

    Over to you

    These Q4 sales strategies are used by companies to maximize their year-end success.

    Here’s one more step you can easily take.

    Get in touch for a free consultation on implementing these strategies in your Salesforce system. Hundreds of companies have done this, and we guarantee to help you find quick-wins and benefits from Salesforce.

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    How To Plug A Leaking Sales Funnel In The Right Place

    How To Plug A Leaking Sales Funnel In The Right Place

    Everyone in sales has a leaking funnel.

    That’s the nature of the game.

    It is, after all, why the sales pipeline is typically displayed as a funnel. There are fewer deals at each successive stage in the sales process.

    If the funnel wasn’t leaking, you would win 100% of deals. (If you ARE winning 100% of deals then you have pipeline management issues such as sandbagging).

    In fact, for reasons we’ll come to, sometimes there are not enough deals leaking from the funnel.

    That’s because opportunities hang around in the sales pipeline long after they have any realistic chance of closing successfully. These opportunities over-inflate the sales pipeline and eliminate any chance of accurate revenue forecasting.

    This means two questions for every sales manager are:

    • Is the sales funnel leaking to a reasonable extent? And,
    • Is the sales funnel leaking in the right places?

    If the answer to either of these questions is ‘No’, then there’s a third question:

    • What should I do about it?

    So here’s our four step guide to plugging a leaking funnel in the right places.

    1. Measure funnel leakage.
    2. Determine where the funnel is leaking.
    3. Understand why the funnel is leaking.
    4. Decide what action to take.

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    All four steps go together. If you don’t know how much the funnel is leaking – and where – then you can’t decide how best to plug the leaks.

    1. How to measure funnel leakage

    Here’s the Leaking Funnel dashboard chart and report.

    salesforce dashboard chart based on the leaking funnel report.

    Create this chart using a Stage Movement report. The report shows the ‘From’ Opportunity Stage for all deals that have been set ‘To’ Closed Lost.

    In our case, the chart covers Opportunities where the Stage movement occurred in the last calendar quarter.

    The leaking funnel dashboard chart and report show, for example, 17 Opportunities moving to Closed Lost directly from the Prospecting Stage. In other words, 17 deals that were in Prospecting, leaked from our funnel in the last quarter.

    Early Stage funnel leakage

    All other things being equal, there’s nothing wrong with deals leaking from the funnel at early stages in the sales lifecycle.

    If the opportunity qualification process is working effectively, this is exactly what should happen.

    Deals are investigated:

    If there isn’t a win-win for supplier and customer, the opportunity is qualified-out.

    But how much early stage leakage is too much?

    Using conversion rates (win rates) is one way to gauge this. Are win rates are broadly in line with what you expect? If so, then you probably don’t have an overwhelming early-stage funnel leakage problem.

    On the other hand, if you do have an early-stage leaking funnel issue, consider the actions outlined in Section 4 of this post.

    Late Stage funnel leakage

    What about deals leaking from the funnel at late Stages in the sales cycle?

    Look the chart and report in our example above:

    Is there a problem? 11 deals in the quarter were lost directly from the Negotiation Stage.

    This is not good news. As Bud Suse says, “there’s nothing worse than coming a close second”.

    Opportunities leaking from the funnel at late stages waste time, energy and resources and drain morale.

    It looks like we have this very problem in our example.

    Read on, to see how to investigate further and decide on the right course of action.

    2. Determine where the funnel is leaking

    Knowing that we have a leaking funnel late in the sales cycle is only the starting point.

    Before we can take action, we need to analyse the problem further.

    Let’s start by looking at the same report summarized by salesperson.

    Salesforce report that shows the leaking funnel for each salesperson.

    This report shows the ‘From’ Stage for all deals that have been set to Closed Lost for each salesperson.

    It looks like all salespeople have something of a problem. They are all leaking deals at late stages in the sales process.

    Let’s reformat the report again to look at the leaking funnel problem from a different angle. For example, compare new versus existing customers:

    Leaking funnel of new customers compared to existing customers.

    So now we have a much deeper understanding of where the funnel is leaking:

    We have a real problem in losing deals to new customers, late in the sales cycle.

    We can reformat the Leaking Funnel reports in a variety of other ways to analyse further, but you get the idea. First, we measured overall funnel leakage. Then we investigated where in the sales process deals are slipping from the pipeline.

    Now we need to understand why it is happening.

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    3. Understand why the funnel is leaking

    So now, we have identified specifically where the funnel is leaking.

    However, there’s no point taking action just for the sake of it. We need to understand why deals are being lost.

    Here are some ways to do that.

    Get feed-forward from prospects

    This is the most powerful way:

    Get insight from prospects with whom you’ve lost deals. Ask them where you went wrong. Find out how you could have acted differently to win the deal.

    We prefer to call it feed-forward not feedback. That’s because you then apply the lessons going forward to future opportunities.

    Read How To Stop Salespeople complaining about Marketing Leads for a great example of insight gathered this way.

    Discuss the issue with salespeople

    Have an open conversation about why the situation is occurring.

    We’ve facilitated many of these discussions. Having an external, independent facilitator is a good way of ensuring an open, no-blame discussion.

    This approach is particularly powerful when it combines with advice and insight directly from the prospects.

    Implement a Reasons Lost field

    Many companies have this type of picklist or text field on the Opportunity. Often, a validation rule ensures information is entered whenever a deal is set to Closed Lost.

    Sometimes this yields useful information.

    However, it’s tough to get the depth of information that can truly make a difference using this method alone.

    For example, all too often ‘Price’ is the reason the deal was lost. Yet how frequently is that truly the case in your business. Instead, qualitative information is the key to making real change and a difference to future conversion rates.

    For more advice read How To Stop Closed Lost Screwing Up Your Funnel.

    4. Decide upon action to plug the leaking funnel

    Now we’re finally ready to take some action!

    Of course, the appropriate action depends upon the results of our analysis and investigation into why the funnel is leaking.

    Depending on the situation in your business, here are some actions you can take.

    Early Stage leaking funnel

    • Validate the opportunity qualification criteria and process. Check deals are not qualified-out too early.
    • Ensure timely and thorough follow-up on early-stage opportunities for new customers. Make sure they’re not ignored in favor of warm deals from existing customers.
    • Re-focus marketing and lead generation activities on target customers in the right segments.
    • Implement lead nurturing programs to ‘warm-up’ customers before contact from salespeople.
    • Implement lead scoring to identify and prioritize the early stage opportunities for follow up.
    • Implement a feedback process from Sales to Marketing or Telesales (or whoever generates the early stage opportunities in your business). This communication must explain when and why new deals are qualified-out. Use this feedback to improve lead and opportunity qualification criteria.

    Late Stage leaking funnel

    • Improve the investigation stage in your sales process. Ensure time is not wasted by salespeople chasing deals they have little chance of winning.
    • Define your ideal customer and make sure you have a framework for assessing potential deals. Bob Apollo has excellent advice on this.
    • Implement a bid / no-bid approval process. If you operate in a big ticket, RFP environment, get formal sign-off to pitching for a deal.
    • Review the process for identifying all stakeholders in the buying center. Check that key stakeholders are not being left out of the communication process early in the sale.
    • Submit contracts and legal documents for review earlier in the sales process. Get technical and legal issues on the table earlier, before everyone gets too entrenched in their position.
    • Get the right balance of focus and pressure. Are sales people chasing too many lame duck deals?
    • Check for dormant deals and evidence of sandbagging. Do some opportunities remain outside the pipeline until the salesperson is confident a deal is to be done? If so, then it’s interfering with your visibility of the funnel and conversion rate metrics.
    • Implement a lessons learned process to capture valuable information that will reduce funnel leakage in the future.

    All funnels leak.

    It’s where, when and how that the funnel is leaking that’s important.

    Use the Leaking Funnel report in your business today to find out if you have a problem. Then dig a little deeper to figure out the right action for the right type of leak.

    Free sales pipeline dashboard

    Install the free GSP Sales Dashboard from the AppExchange. Includes the leaking funnel chart. Measure the size, quality and trend in your sales pipeline using the dashboard.

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