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In most sales teams there’s a strong focus on the size of the sales pipeline. But size isn’t everything. We want to know that the pipeline isn’t being artificially inflated just to keep the management team at bay. In other words we need to measure sales pipeline quality.

Here’s 3 salesforce dashboard charts that do exactly that – measure sales pipeline quality.

1. Measure Opportunity Age in a dashboard chart

Average sales cycle duration varies from industry to industry. If you’re selling high value capital equipment it’s going to be a lot longer than in businesses operating in consumer markets. But listing Opportunities that have been in the pipeline for substantially longer than average for your organisation is a good starting point for highlighting and over-inflated pipeline.

Sales Pipeline Age

Report Pipeline Age

The dashboard chart shows the Top 10 oldest Opportunities. The underlying report uses conditional highlighting to identify the key Opportunities that are worthy of investigation.

An Opportunity that has been open a large number of days is not in itself wrong. After all some customers do take a long time to make decisions. But not closing Opportunities that have long since been awarded to a competitor – or in which the customer made no purchasing decision at all – is one of the primary reasons behind an over inflated sales pipeline.

One word of caution. If you also track the Opportunity Win Rate on the dashboard then there’s a conflicting dynamic here. On the one hand you need sales people to close Opportunities that are no longer valid. On the other, sales people know you’re measuring the percentage of deals they win. The lesson is that no single metric is king. It’s the combination of measures on the dashboard that tell the real story.

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2. Measure the number of Close Date changes

This dashboard table summarises the Top 10 Opportunities on which the Close Date has been moved the most number of times. Conditional highlighting flags those above pre-defined thresholds.

Opportunity Close Date ChangesMany Close Date changes doesn’t automatically mean that an Opportunity doesn’t belong in the sales pipeline. And the longer the average sales cycle then the greater the number of Close Date changes that might reasonably be expected.

But an Opportunity with a significant number of changes, particularly if the Created Date is distant, means the Opportunity is worthy of scrutiny. And a large number of Opportunities with these characteristics calls into question the overall quality of the sales pipeline.

3. Measure the number of days since the last Stage change

Sometimes deals take a long time to come to fruition. That’s how life is. But the longer it’s been since a change in the Opportunity Stage then the more likely it is that this is a stuck Opportunity. And that potentially means it shouldn’t be in the sales pipeline.

Days Opportunity Stage ChangeReport Days Opportunity Stage Change

The report provides additional information at the Opportunity level. In order to focus the report on the key information, insert a filter so that only Opportunities on which the last Stage Change date is more than (say) 20 days ago.

As with the number of Close Date changes, in isolation this metric doesn’t reveal which Opportunities shouldn’t be in the sales pipeline. But it certainly highlights those worthy of investigation.

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