Building on the sales pipeline post from last week, a pipeline is about understanding the state of sales. Providing a structure to the sales process enables a team to assess key sales metrics (read: “performance”).

A few metrics to track once an opportunity is created:

  • Close win/ loss rate – what is the ratio of opportunities that are won/ loss
  • Sales stage aging – how long are opportunities in sales stages
  • Close rate by prospect source – based on how the prospect became a lead and then an opportunity, what is the ratio of opportunities that are won
  • Sales cycle time – how long does it take to close opportunities
  • # of close date moves – that is, how often are close dates adjusted for opportunities? This can reflect poor sales forecasts
  • Total win amounts – simply, how much money is generated
  • Conversion rates at every stage – how often are opportunities moving beyond the first stage? Second stage? Etc.

The above sales metrics can further be grouped or aggregated on finer details including:

  • By sales professional – which sales professionals are closing more, less
  • By date(s) – aggregated by months, weeks, quarters, etc.
  • Other standard or custom attributes of opportunities and accounts –fields beyond the above including opportunity size, opportunity creation, account size, account geography, or other custom fields on the opportunity or account level

Then, if data is captured well, a sales leader can go deeper by understanding the activities involved…

  • How many meetings were completed to close a deal?
  • How many people were involved in the sales process? Buying process?
  • How well do customers continue buying services/ products later? That is, understand the renewal rates, cross-sells, and up-sells

There are many sales metrics available once a structure is created and data is gathered. The important element of metrics is keeping them focused and driving action. Consider all the sales metrics mentioned above are gathered. Are there specific areas that need attention this month? Are there specific sales pods or professionals who need more coaching? Stay focused, and have your data inform how to achieve better performance.

Tags: sales, metrics, sales leaders, pipeline

With the thousands of companies and solutions in the B2B space, developing a one-size-fits-all sales process is near impossible. There are many variables in a selling and buying process that takes the control out of a sales professional’s hands. However, there are practices that can bring some structure to a sales process – fit the goals of sales while also fitting a buyer’s process. One such method is utilizing a Mutual Action Plan (MAP), or Mutually Agreed Action Plan (MAAP).  
The MAP helps align sales and buyers (teams or individuals) understand and execute on a set of tasks towards a buying decision.  
The key part of the MAP is the first letter — Mutual(ly). This enables a sales professional to guide a buyer through the sales process while molding the process to fit the prospect‘s buying considerations. Without “Mutual” there is no “agreement”. That would be an action plan — or simply, a sales process. 
Sample Mutual Action Plan 
The second element that makes a MAP effective is making the plan available to all parties. Visual or otherwise, this enables alignment on the responsibilities for each member of the team. Consider staying simple with the action items for stakeholders or consider more robust frameworks like RASCI.
  • Responsible for 
  • Approves 
  • Supports 
  • Consults 
  • Informs  
A MAP can be employed early on in an engagement — from a discovery call through implementation. It’s a simple enough framework that keeps both teams moving toward a common goal.  
Note: the goal is not about “selling” or “buying”. Instead, it’s about delivering the benefits the customer is looking for. Value = benefit – expectation. 
Given my recent finish of SPIN Selling, sales qualification/ discovery processes weigh heavy on my mind. So, it’s no surprise then, that when I run into a new acronym that I wonder what it’s about – and how it’s different.
Here are a few sales qualification acronyms:
  • BANT– this is a real popular one that was the foundation for many sales processes. It stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing.
  • ANUM– evolution from BANT and heavily promoted by InsideSales.com for years, this stands for Authority, Need, Urgency, and Money.
  • SPIN– this is more about the process rather than qualification criteria. However, this comes from Neil Rackham’s SPIN Selling – Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need pay-off.
  • MEDDIC– this is a new one for me after hearing about this from a sales leader recently. This stands for Metrics, Economic buyer, Decision criteria, Decision process, Identify pain point, and Champion. This one is more comprehensive than the others. It aims to understand the buyingprocess.

I’m sure there are hundreds more sales qualification processes and acronyms. The former two are all about qualifying opportunities. The latter two are more aligned to leading a prospect through the buying process/ understanding the buying process, especially in MEDDIC.

What are some sales strategies and acronyms you’ve used to advance sales? Which were not helpful, and why?
Angus Lynch of CrazyEgg.com posted an article about buying modalities titled, “35% of Web Visitors Are ‘Spontaneous’ Buyers. Are You Alienating Them?”. He describes the four buying modalities:
  • Competitive (5-10% of web visitors) – buyer makes smart, quick decisions. These buyers are all about speed and quality to gain an advantage. They want to be the best… oftentimes, the first (advantage).
  • Methodical (45%) – buyers are very logic-oriented. They want to understand everything about buying a product or service including advantages and disadvantages of competitive options.
  • Humanistic (10-15%) – buyers believe in emotional/ altruistic purchases. They are looking for validation among consensuses.
  • Spontaneous (25-35%) – these buyers make purchase decisions based on feelings and gut. That is, they make quick decisions.

The four buying modalities help to understand the type of prospect you are engaged with, and what their preferred buying process looks like. Lynch’s article touches, specifically, on website visitors. The buying modalities will determine the layout, copy, and images to leverage on websites.
For example, to attract competitive buyers, it’s important to have copy reflecting the “best” aspects of choosing a product or service. Competitive buyers need to feel they are buying an advantage over anyone else. Testimonials must reflect the “best” or “largest” institutions.
Depending on the market you are selling to and attracting to your website, it’s likely the above website proportions of visitors is very different. Understand your ideal customer profile (ICP). Know who the personas are involved in the buying decision (consensus sales!). Make sure your website, sales collateral, conversations, and the like address the prospect’s buying modality.
Just finished reading/ listening to Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross. It’s been referred to as the sales Bible by several sales pros. Just so happened I never read it till now.
The book is written by former sales leader Aaron Ross as he helped implement the structure and strategies to scale Salesforce.com’s sales model.
My take-aways:
  • The importance of structure. This is probably the most highlighted point of the book spanning everything from organization to cadence to sales cycle and reporting. Ross frequently harps on using a sales force automation platform – not a surprise.
  • Value/ Customer first, and pretty much always. Ross highlights the importance of enabling the customer to talk about their business first… just about never talk about your product. Instead, integrate your product/ service in how it can resolve specific challenges of the customer.
  • Customer Success is perhaps the most important facet of the sales process.Executives and boards almost always focus on new customers at the peril of ignoring existing. Hold the hands of your first 10, 20, 50 customers.
  • 80% of the defects and problems in the sales process happens during hand-offs.Ross calls handing off between teams as “passing the baton”. I read this as the issues that arise when discussions and knowledge of the customer is lost from team to team. It’s like the game “telephone”.
  • A successful sale is about both companies. As much as sales is focused on earning the business with a prospect, effort should also be spent on evaluating if the customer is even a good fit for the seller. Too often, sales reps spend time on customers that do not fit the ideal customer profile, and thus, productivity (and indeed sales efforts) slows.

This book was recommended to me by several people, but I read it after the Challenger Sale (review here) after the recommendation of a colleague. As you can surmise from this review, Predictable Revenue is much more high-level than the Challenger Sale – Challenger being the more tactical sales approach.
There’s a lot of good take-aways, and finer details buried throughout the book, that this will be a reference tool for me in the future.