Sales Pipeline Coverage… are we just humoring ourselves?

What’s your pipeline coverage?  We all feel good about 3x pipeline.  But what did you do to confirm the quality of that 3x pipeline?  Most sales leaders are burdened with spending a lot of time vetting opportunities with reps.  Considering all the other work that has to be done to fill and convert the pipeline – there’s hardly time left to thoroughly inspect it.  There is a better way – the following is a plan I use and that is being used by many successful sales leaders I know to ensure that there’s enough quality pipeline to hit the number.   

To find out if there’s enough pipeline to cover the number – we focus on the following:

  1. Of my list of opportunities – how many are qualified to include in my coverage?  Are the reps just miraculously showing 3x coverage because I tell them to have 3x?
  2. Can these opportunities really close in this period?
  3. Are the reps closing out all the junk?  How much is new vs. existing pipeline?  Of the existing pipeline, how many have pushed from previous periods?
  4. Which deals have momentum (how old, how long in a stage) and which are going stale?

We assume that if we have 3x coverage – these things will work themselves out and we’ll address them in our weekly sales meeting/forecast call/pipeline review and 1:1s.  But how can we be sure we’ll really purge all the bad opportunities and focus on the real opportunities – while having confidence that we have the right coverage to meet our number?  Please enter your email to immediately be redirected to the full guidebook and to receive a link to your inbox.

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Guidebook: Sales Forecasting Solution: How to Become Best-in-Class


What would a 11-13% increase in quota attainment, win rate and revenue plan attainment mean to your business? On a $10M quota for the sales team, this could mean $1.1M to $1.3M in more revenue. And what if you could achieve this without adding sales resources or spending more on marketing? It would be absolutely gamechanging.Download this guidebook to identify the obstacles you have to mitigate immediately to achieve predictable and accurate sales forecasts. Proven by over a decade of research, the following four steps are necessary to become best-in-class in sales forecasting:

  1. Regular rep and manager forecast reviews
  2. Standardized ranking to classify all sales opportunities and leads
  3. Process to improve discovery activities to better predict deal outcomes
  4. Automated reminders

Complete the form to receive “Sales Forecasting System: How to Become Best-in-Class” to your email.

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AI for Sales Forecasting and Sales Process Execution

Artificial Intelligence for sales forecasting builds trust and confidence.   If you can trust what you see in the pipeline and that your pipeline is filling at the appropriate rate with qualified leads that fit your ideal customer profile, you can have confidence that you’ll hit your number.

AI for Sales Forecasting & Sales Process Execution  provides a 6 step guide to empower sales teams with:

  • An enforced sales process
  • Prescriptive insights for better performance
  • Superior pipeline data hygiene
  • Easier pipeline/CRM updates
  • Captured signals of real deal health
  • Accurate analysis of the funnel by rep and by time

Don’t miss this opportunity to receive  full access to Gartner’s research on the B2B Predictive Analytics Market 
 to learn if and how artificial intelligence is right for your sales organization.

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Exceeding Quota with Data-Driven Sales Management

Maximizing Reps Sales performance is the number one objective for Sales Leaders. We have published a step-by-step guidebook that does just this – Maximize Sales Performance. But in short, the following details what every Sales Leader needs to know like the back of their hand.

Prior 1:1s with the reps, I did what I could in pulling as much pipeline information and history as I could – this was a lot of work and I didn’t trust the information. The various ways deals were closed or manipulated or the lack of sufficient information always seemed to be a problem for my reports. Without a consistent process, what one rep said was a 50%, another might say is 75% – there was a lot to adjust to. With so little time and so many reps to strategize with – it left out the potential to really maximize the chance of winning the deals and to help develop the non A-players. That 1:1 time could have been spent so much better if the rep and I had a head-start.

Having the proper sales management is a great way to increase sales opportunities. Which breaks down into the following 5 steps:

  1. 1. The Number
    1. a) Predict what will close in the pipeline
    2. b) Predict any additional pipe that is yet to be generated and closed within this sales period
  2. 2. Cycle Time & ASP
    1. a) Determine how long does it take to win a deal and what is the Average Selling Price (ASP)
  3. 3. Confirm the Pipeline
    1. a) Build practices that will allow you to look upon past quarters and find consistency
    2. b) Know the composition of the pipeline and what happened to it each quarter
  4. 4. Metrics to Help Reps Improve Performance
    1. a) Look up certain metrics to set benchmarks for your team
    2. b) Example: Are we winning commits?
  5. 5. Tracking Status
    1. a) Follow up, consistency is key!

These strategies will help blow out your number and get the entire team exceeding quota. Using these data-driven best practices, you’ll be able to keep score, react in time and have confidence as you guide your team. Again, there is a free guidebook on this here – I encourage you to download it. Side note – CSO Insight’s, Barry Trailer has an incredibly insightful blog with research that identifies the “Silver Bullet” to increase quota attainment.

What is Sales Pipeline Analytics?

Most sales leaders analyze their pipeline the same way they’ve done it for years – this is why sales is still a grind, forecasting is still a struggle, and there are still surprises and disappointments at the end of the sales period. Your pipeline analytics should answer these questions with precision:

1. How much new and total pipeline do we need – and will we have enough?
2. Is the pipeline filling at the appropriate rate?
3. Where are deals getting stuck in the pipeline so I can change or coach on those sales activities?
4. Am I converting what’s in the pipeline at the necessary rate?
These questions have to be answered for the whole company, the region or division and for the sales reps. If I don’t know the answers to these questions (and some follow on questions), I may be caught flat footed at the end of the sales period and miss the number. But more importantly, without good answers to these questions throughout the sales period, I can’t make good decisions to improve my process and my reps – costing the company millions in lost deals. Another blog we have related pipeline anatlytics, which is about finding the right sales forecasting tool can be found here.

What’s needed is the ability to understand more about your pipeline – where it came from, what happened to it, and ultimately, to understand and predict if I’ll have enough to hit my number. The fundamental components of understanding your pipeline to see if you’ll hit your number are:

  1. Composition of the Pipeline
  2. Pipeline Prediction
  3. Accuracy of the Pipeline
  4. What Happened in Previous Periods
  5. Conversion Rates

To learn in greater detail how to understand your pipeline better, download the full guidebook “Analyzing the Pipeline”.  A nice follow up to this download is our recent post about increasing conversions through the sales process.

Sales analytics with artificial intelligence is helpful because it can predict the outcome in time for you to make an impact. CSO Insights reports that 94% of their World Class sales performers use sales analytics technologies for better decision making and less digging.

Sales Pipeline Management for Frontline Managers

Frontline sales managers have to coach, manage, be engaged with and sell alongside the sales team. They need to understand the analytics of how a deal moves through the sales funnel to be more effective in coaching.

Managers have to make sure their reps are hitting their number – every sales period.  Without this essential information they don’t understand what’s really happening – and their only recourse is to wrongfully punish poor performing sales reps instead of help develop them. Executing the plan and watching the metrics is a great way for frontline managers to increase quota attainment and be noticeably valuable to the organization.

Achieving quota is quite the challenge for today’s sales teams. CSO Insights research has concluding that sales reps achieving quota has continued to diminish each year from 63% in 2012 to 56% in 2016. The crux of this issue is that sales reps are not aligned with the organization’s plan, which leaves them mostly on their own without formal coaching. On top of this, frontline sales managers further aggravate the problem because instead of spending time helping a sales rep develop, they’re busy working on forecast and pipeline spreadsheets. (To see how one of our customer overcame this with his team, check this out.)

One way to solve this problem is to arm the frontline sales managers with the ability to know what to manage and what to coach on, so that sales reps are much more prepared to be successful in meeting their sales goals. This can be broken down into 5 stages:

  1. The Sales Plan – managers and reps have to be aligned
  2. Coaching & Managing Reps – both necessary, but there’s a difference
  3. Managing & Analyzing the Sales Process – remove junk from the pipeline, take action at the right time and close more deals faster
  4. Metrics – activity metrics, metrics that drive opportunities and metrics on outcomes
  5. Pipeline & Pipeline Hygiene – the most important management areas for a sales manager

You can download the full guidebook “Training Guide for Frontline Managers” for it to be easier for sales managers to be more effective in their management and coaching. With empowered sales reps, achieving quota becomes a much easier goal, and allows you focus on clearing up your pipeline and further maximize the use of your sales reps time.

Optimizing Sales Starts with Sales Process

One of the most valuable qualities in life is your ability to maximize the value of anything you buy, acquire, or are given. You have to know when you’re leaving money on the table, paying too much or not getting enough value out of something.

You don’t just throw something out or let it deteriorate, you fix it and enhance it so that it works as advertised, if not better! Now, I apply those same principals to our sales organization. Everything we have in our sales organization has to be working “better” than advertised. And of course that applies to our sales process, which I believe many companies neglect without knowing there’s a better way.

According to the research study of 9,000 companies by CSO Insights, only 48% of sales reps hit quota due to an informal sales process. Now, let’s translate that into dollars. If only half of your team is hitting quota, and let’s use a quota of $800,000 per rep per year for perspective, that means you’re losing $400,000 per rep. So, if you have 10 reps, that means a loss of $4 million. That is a lot of missed sales opportunities, and lost money due to an informal sales process. By implementing a formal process for sales optimization, quota achievement increases to over 60% of the team, and if you add supporting automation on top of that, it will increase an additional 10% or higher and save a ton of time.

Now that we’ve established the necessity of a formal sales process, now I’ll show you what it looks like. The recipe for a consistent and rigorous sales process is 1) enforcing a strong methodology, 2) mapping your buyer/seller journey, and 3) enabling your team to execute the sales process through helpful automation. Helpful automation means enabling the reps to focus on selling, and providing value to sales rep throughout the sales process with recommendations to help them win deals – and faster. We have to have consistency in the team and the process so that everyone is doing the same thing and everyone knows where deals belong. Because of this alignment and rigor, deal conversions, advancements and regressions can be measured while pipeline and forecasts will be accurate and useful. Another good read would be our blog on pipeline management for your sales team, which you can read here.

This is no easy task and I’ve outlined this exact recipe in a full guidebook – “How to Increase Conversions Throughout the Sales Process”. The download will provide the three steps to a formal and rigorous sales process that will increase quota achievement and totally optimize your sales team.

How to Increase Conversions Throughout the Sales Process

Download this guidebook for the recipe to achieve a formal, consistent and winning sales process.According to CSO Insights research, only 48% of sales reps hit quota, due to an informal sales process.  By implementing a formal process, quota achievement increases to over 60% of the team, and if you add supporting automation on top of that, it will increase an additional 10% or higher and save a ton of time.

Sales teams need consistency so that everyone is doing the same thing and everyone knows where deals belong. Now managers can measure deal conversions, advancements, and regressions to find where deals get stuck – and ultimately make the pipeline and forecast accurate and useful.

Complete the form to receive “How to Increase Conversions Throughout Your Sales Process” to your email.

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