All great sales leaders steer their team to make the best use of their time. To focus on the leads that are most likely to close; the clients that are going to be most profitable in the long term. Today's sales reports will give us answers to some of these questions, but they don't account for the variance in the opportunity lifecycle.
That’s where Opportunity Process Analytics comes into play.
How to improve your sales process today
If you're a Salesforce Sales Cloud user, there’s a faster way to examine the sales process from lead to close using data that already exists in Salesforce. Process Analytics pulls data from Salesforce objects and generates a business process model visualization that can be quickly analyzed.
Looking at the Opportunity object, there are many possible analysis paths. Here we’ll focus on the three high-value questions that sales leaders and RevOps teams should be regularly asking:
- What are the process differences between won vs. lost opportunities?
- Are reps spending their time in the optimal way?
- What is the optimal sales process and how do we compare?
1. What are the process differences between won vs. lost opportunities?
Do you know why you lose opportunities? Sure, it can be due to poor product fit, competitive bids, and nonoptimal buying conditions. However, we also lose deals due to poor execution of the sales process.
Perhaps slow lead qualification times or slow responses to customer questions increase the chances of a lost opportunity? Looking further down the pipeline, is it possible that the optimal number of touchpoints may change, or that sales team members find themselves stuck in a loop when trying to negotiate a contract? Are these leading indicators of success or failure?
The ability to quickly determine where a process is broken, and translate that insight into a coachable moment, could mean the difference between hitting targets and coming up short.
2. Are reps spending their time in the optimal way?
Not every opportunity is destined to end up in the win column—regardless of what your sales rockstars may tell you—and coaching them to walk away from bad deals is both difficult and necessary.
Great sales leaders and experienced reps know how important it is to focus their limited time on the opportunities with the greatest strategic value, and those that are most likely to be won. They also intuitively pick up on cues that lead them to either double down on an opportunity, or abandon it entirely:
- Is the Executive Sponsor fairly new to their role, or are they close to retirement?
- How long does your team normally have to wait for a response to an email?
- Has your prospect asked for multiple product demonstrations, or contract revisions?
- Is there any critical information that has changed during the course of the deal cycle (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline)?
There’s an element of chaos in every opportunity, and the resulting unpredictability presents a major challenge for even the most sophisticated sales intelligence applications. However, imagine if you could pinpoint reps that continue spending time on deals that end in a loss. You could easily hone in and more effectively coach them on how to evaluate, mark a deal lost, and move on.
Win-loss ratios are useful, but they don't identify the coachable moments. Being able to see each rep's time and effort to close out an opportunity and compare that with the team's average will help you focus the team on the best opportunities.
3. What is the optimal sales process?
Organizations spend time and effort designing the optimal sales process. However, we know that sales reps adapt to that process to increase their chances of success. Prescriptive processes create a consistent customer experience and are measurable, whereas the customized process offers flexibility and will accommodate the rep's style.
An optimal process will ensure that essential steps are followed, leaving ample room for creativity, while adhering to a framework that’s measurable, traceable, and easy to optimize over time.
But how do we get there?
Perhaps the solution for designing the optimal sales process can be found by examining common sales best practice—start with discovery.
Rather than measuring outcomes against a hypothetical “static” sales process, and coaching reps on how to get “back on track”, begin by examining what your most successful reps are doing, and build from there. Now you have a methodology centered around continuous improvement rather than adherence, and a sales process that evolves and becomes more effective over time.