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How to Run Pipeline Reviews (according to high-performing sales teams)
Pipeline reviews, love them, or hate them, are a vital fixture in a salesperson’s week. Done well, they are an opportunity for guidance, reflection, and improvement. Done poorly, they waste time, create frustration, and can leave reps feeling alienated. Pipeline reviews tread a fine line between helping a rep to make quota or creating friction…
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7 Most Common Mistakes When Annually Planning Sales
Planning has two main approaches. Let’s call them proactive and reactive planning. Good sales plans include both. They account for hurdles in implementing new initiatives and track the right data needed to evaluate rep performance, addressable market, and initiative value. Great sales plans go one step further. They approach planning as a constant process of…
8 Early Signs Your Pipeline is At Risk
B2B sales are getting more and more competitive, the landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years and continues to do so. With new paths to entry and increasing avenues to connect with a prospect, sales teams are being pushed to achieve more with increased efficiency. This means making sure that your sales pipeline is solid and continuously provides legitimate opportunities to drive sales forward is of increasing importance.
So being able to identify when your pipeline of opportunities is at risk can literally make or break your sales quota for the quarter or even the year! Below we have highlighted 8 easily identifiable indicators that are early signs that your pipeline is at risk.
1. No Activity
One of the biggest signs of an opportunity at risk is where there is no activity on them at all. Being able to identify why there has been no engagement or activities can be a time-consuming task, especially if multiple reps are tied to the opportunity. There can be multiple reasons for the lack of activity, it can be that reps have not updated the CRM with the activity that has taken place, which is easily fixed by incorporating tracking systems. However, if it is that reps have not followed up this can be a major issue. Your team should be following up with every lead and if they aren’t doing so this can lead to fewer closes and you missing quota.
2. No Future Tasks
Ensuring that your reps are constantly creating new connections within your target accounts and opportunities is key to keeping your pipeline moving. If you are noticing that there are no future activities being planned or meetings being booked then this is a sure sign of stalling, placing your pipeline at risk. Simple activity automation tools can help you to identify when there is a lack of future tasks planned. By tracking when activities are made and if there are accounts that are lacking new tasks you are able to understand where your reps are focusing and if they need to be redirected to specific tasks on account that are at risk.
3. Low Engagement
According to Gartner, 76% of all sales emails are not read. Engagement with prospects is one of your key pipeline metrics for understanding the health of your pipeline. By tracking the communications, emails, file shares, meetings, and phone calls, between your reps and your prospective customers you can identify which accounts are progressing and which are not. The more engagement points between the two parties show which customers are actively engaging with your reps and which are not.
Depending on where the lack of engagement is happening will determine where your issues lay and whether it is worth the resources to re-engage.
4. Too Few Relationships
It is well known that relationships are key to B2B sales, if you don’t have enough connections into a target account it is unlikely you will be connecting with the right people who are making the decisions. By mapping your internal network of contacts you are able to see where you have connections into each of your target accounts. You can also which reps have those connections and if they can be leveraged to improve the win rate of your opportunity.
5. Too Long in Stage
The length of time an opportunity has stayed in the same stage with your sales pipeline is a major red flag. By looking at the number of days that it has been in that stage you can quickly find deals that are stuck in the funnel. This allows you to either formulate a plan on how to move it forward or if need be cut your losses and reallocate resources. As sales cycles are getting longer, it is more important than ever that you are able to identify when an opportunity has stalled and take remedial action.
If an opportunity has been stuck in a stage for too long finding the reason why could not just be the answer to moving that deal along but can identify weaknesses with your sales team. Ideally, your customer’s journey through your pipeline should be simple and easy to complete, you want to identify roadblocks quickly and reduce them to decrease your risk.
6. Deal Value Decreased
For your pipeline to grow your value must be increasing, this means that your average deal value/size needs to go up. If your deal values are decreasing then your pipeline growth is slowing and potentially becoming unprofitable. Reasons the value of a deal can change can be related to various internal and external reasons, it can be pricing or based on reactions to competitive environments. However, a downwards trend can knock your forecast vastly off course, which can have impacts across the business. By using trending data, you can identify when this is happening.
7. Close Date Pushed Out
Having a deal moving out of the current quarter can present a real problem for many sales leaders when they are looking to forecast their quota. Moreover, this can present a real problem if a large number of deals slip, which can mean that you do not achieve a quota at all; placing you into a scramble to push deals up or find new ones to make sure the quota is met. By understanding why a deal has been pushed back you can start to build in factors into your forecasting that will balance these out. Alternatively, by looking at the reasons behind the push out you can work with reps to potentially fix any issues causing the push out and speed the deal back up.
8. Stage Moved Back
Similar to pushing out a close date if a deal is moved back a stage this can have a major impact on your pipeline. There can be many reasons for a deal to move back a stage, a rep could have been a little more confident than they should have been, issues have arisen with the customer, or there could be problems with engagement. By finding these issues and fixing them or coaching the rep on when deals should be moved forward you can help get them back on track.
Seeing some of the issues that can signpost that your pipeline is at risk and is slowing your sales progress, you can start to identify and fix these issues. By implementing even the simplest of changes can make a big difference to your pipeline and significantly reduce risk. Get a free health check today!