So many firms have issues with sales forecasting in terms of ensuring it’s predictable and accurate. Forecasting accuracy can easily be managed, but it’s so important to determine the quality or reality of your sales pipeline. This is why you need to take off your rose colored glasses in pipeline reviews.
If you look at your sales territory/account as your business and your pipeline as your revenue stream, then there’s no reason to keep deals in your pipeline that should never even be there. Here are two major things to avoid when it comes to pipeline reviews:
- Your close date is YOUR quarter-end or year-end:
Many a sales person have forecasted any number of deals to close on their end of quarter/end of year hoping and praying that the customer will sign by that date. However, the only reason you would assign that particular close date is if:
- You have verified with all the key client stakeholders that closing on that date is the only way they will reach their business goals within their timeframe
- By cascading the date quarter after quarter, it makes your pipeline look more robust (yikes!)
- Your manager told you to do so in order to make your pipeline look stronger (double yikes!)
- I could go on, but I may start throwing things
- Your deal stays in your pipeline forever:
Now, let’s look at another pet peeve of mine. You have your deal forecasted and not only is it in your pipeline forever, it has not moved from one stage to another in hundreds of days! What’s your percentage to close ratio when a deal has not moved over many months?
For those who know me, I am a fairly practical woman so it always amazes me that sales people keep deals in their pipeline that:
- Are way over their average deal length with little chance of closing
- Have close dates that have more to do with quota than anything the customer cares about
- Don’t make them say, “Hmm – this deal has not moved for months”
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Are you struggling with your pipeline reviews? I encourage you to share your experiences and thoughts!
In the meantime, remember that if you look at your sales territory/account as your business and your pipeline as your revenue stream, then take off your rose-colored glasses and get real with your pipeline.
Janice Mars, principal and founder of SalesLatitude, is a senior business and sales executive with more than 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales teams. She has parlayed that experience to help her clients to improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and attain consistent results. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter