Monday Morning Musings
Sales Professional’s Monday Mornings are typically filled with standing weekly Sales meetings, training, briefings, and internal team coordination and discussions. Monday’s are typically days filled with administrative tasks and fire drills to complete requests for leadership, partners and or clients and customers. I would find that taking some time on Sunday evening or early Monday morning, to review outstanding or past due tasks, and evaluate upcoming tasks due surrounding administrative activities.
Tools of the Trade:
Sales forecasting accuracy will be a required skill for success in typical sales organizations. Most Sales forecasting tool will typically be derived from a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application. SalesForce.com, Oracle and SAP are all examples of enterprise-focused CRM applications or modules within an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Software Suite or products. Microsoft also has CRM tools that integrate with the Microsoft suite technology stack. These modern day applications provide a sales professional with increased productivity and visibility into key metrics to help guide success.
Most CRM applications will also be the means in which you create, update and track each sales opportunity. The sum of all opportunities entered into your CRM application will be your “Pipeline”. An Opportunity will include, Size, Date, Quantity, Description, expected close date and sales stage(s). An initial Opportunity will be labeled as a prospect/identified. As you work the opportunity, you will move the opportunity through an opportunity phase. Identify to developing, to proposed and finally to closed/lost. The greatest challenges I experienced and witnessed around Pipeline Hygiene centered around; insuring each and every opportunity you were working was entered into the pipeline and each opportunity was kept accurately updated throughout the sales cycle, including projected dates of closing and elimination of closed opportunities. Your pipeline will be the data that feeds your forecast. As mentioned, leadership relies on an accurate forecast in order to adequately allocate and plan resources and provide guidance to investors, shareholders, etc…
As a sales professional, you will be expected to provide an accurate sales forecast or “Commit” as some organizations may refer. A forecast is generally required to be based on a quarterly basis and may also be expected to include monthly forecast numbers. An example would be; Q3 $100K; July $30K, August $40K, September $30K. You would base these forecasting numbers to submit, off of the pipeline you have in place at the time. As your sales results come in each month, your forecast will adjust to your numbers. So, let’s say your total sales for July were $37K, you would then update your Q3 forecast on August 1st to $107K due to the above results in July. As your results for July come in, you may also be asked to also submit a preliminary Q4 forecast. As you can see, the importance of an accurate funnel or pipeline is crucial in being able to maintain an accurate forecast.
Managing your individual opportunities through the sales process is essential, the key to having and maintaining a healthy pipeline. When you compare your Sales Forecast to your sales quota, you identify any gaps. Gap analysis involves evaluating your pipeline to forecast, closing ratios and timelines. If you submit a forecast to your sales leadership that your pipeline does not have the necessary opportunities included to support, you will be called out and asked to explain how you will be able to meet your forecast, lacking the necessary supporting opportunities for achievement.
A pipeline ratio is defined as the total amount of pipeline required to complete the necessary sales amount to meet a quota. For example; based on company or industry research, a pipeline in the amount of 4 times (4x) your quota number is the necessary amount of sales opportunities required for success. When you review your opportunities and they total less than 4 times your quota or commitment/forecast number, you will be expected to increase your activity levels to identify and bring in more opportunities in order to meet the key metric of 4 times pipeline. A lot of organizations will have this requirement on overall opportunities or pipeline, and also have specific pipeline ratio numbers based on product or service buckets or types.
The solution to a small pipeline is to increase the number of opportunities included or identified within the pipeline. How do you go about finding additional opportunities? Prospecting and networking are key activities required for Sales Professionals who want to maintain high levels of success in Sales. You key prospecting activities involve, cold calling, networking (Warm Calling) and farming within existing customers or clients. Some good prospecting tools around the cold calling space, include JigSaw, Discovery. Org and Dun and Bradstreet. Networking or Warm calling tools include Linked in and other social networking platforms. A review of your customer or client base, the products or services they are purchasing, and contract terms/expiration will provide another area to identify up sell, renewal and or complete product replacement opportunities. Work with your internal resources, key client partners and leadership to help identify targets and individuals within existing clients.
As you routinely go through these type of sales motions and activities, you will become adept and efficient at self managing to the metrics required to achieve the level of income desired and sales recognition deserved on a routine basis.