Posts by: Sean Kooyman

How To Validate Close Dates

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Internally, you are familiar with the Expected Close Date (sometimes simply referred to as Close Date) that sales reps keep updated. Sometimes a sales team can have difficulty keeping these dates accurate; perhaps simply because of the volume of deals occurring, or because predicting the future is hard! … Continue reading

What is a Sales Process?

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This may seem like a silly question – everyone knows what a sales process is, right?

Here at TopOPPS, we are devoted to helping other companies define, follow, and evolve their Sales Processes. In doing so, we have learned quite a bit about what works and doesn’t work in a Sales Process, and where the biggest holes tend to be.

Most people think of Sales Processes as a set of stages an opportunity must move through. Some take this a level further, and say there may be particular milestones within a stage that should be completed as well.

This is true – these components form the backbone of the Sales Process. TopOPPS pulls in your stages as they exist from Salesforce, and allows you to setup both global and stage milestones that impact the overall health % of an opportunity.

Here’s the problem though – most people seem to think the definition of a Sales Process stops there. Does it really, though?

In today’s world, a Sales VP has limited tools to get their team to play according to the strategy they have defined. This may mean data simply doesn’t get input into the CRM, or certain members of your team are falling into the same traps against particular competitors over and over again, or even just having team members skipping steps you feel are important to push the deal in the right direction.

We have seen all sorts of different kinds of attempts to solve this problem.

Some frustrated Sales VPs implement custom validation rules in their CRM, that trigger a blaring warning to their team members when data is out of date or not following the rules. This is all well and good – but it ONLY triggers when a team member tries to update an opportunity. This both results in data that sits in a bad state for a long time, as well as a further discouragement of updating data in general (“I just wanted to update this one field, but my CRM is forcing me to update these other 10 things… forget it. I’ll just deal with this later”).

Another common pattern we’ve seen is Sales VPs who run a Salesforce report to make a list of all opportunities with non-compliant data (outdated or otherwise). This report is then sent out as an email to their team members, or brought up in the Monday morning sales meeting, with the request that they update this data. This is effective, but grossly inefficient. Both your and their time would be far more valuable going over strategy.

Finally we’ve seen playbook patterns being outright ignored, either from difficultly in accessing that data, or just a lack of awareness of the plays your competitors are making against you.

TopOPPS changes the game.

With our Alert system, you can codify all your experience, sales process requirements, and competitor knowledge into Alerts. These Alerts can be merely informative (if stuck in stage 3 on a high value deal against competitor x, recommend executive visit) or require the sales rep to fix the data (your next meeting date is in the past).

Alerts that require a fix are presented in a todo-list style to your team members, and rapidly allow them to “quick-fix” the specific fields in error, or do a quick check-in, or dig down into the opportunity for deeper analysis and changes.

Our learning algorithm also watches your historical patterns, and makes recommendations to you on informative alerts to create about things you may not have been aware of (such as particular industry trends, or competitor’s plays).

In TopOPPS, your Sales Process is a combination of a backbone (stages / milestones) with an Alert system that blends together human intuition and experience, supported by insightful algorithms.

Simply put- your Sales Process isn’t complete without us.

Sales Pipeline Optimization: Build vs. Buy

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Do you need more visibility into the sales pipeline? Need better sales forecasting? Evaluating tools and consulting to solve this problem? This article will simplify your decision making process and spell out exactly what to expect with our tool – no fluff, just the info.

TopOPPS is a Sales Pipeline Optimization tool.

Its overall goal is to increase predictability of sales forecasts. It achieves this through a 3-pronged approach:
1) Allowing for easy updates for a sales rep, getting more data to analyze into the system.
2) Facilitating communication between Sales Managers and Sales Reps, reducing assumptions.
3) Allowing for instant analysis into what needs attention and what has changed in your pipeline, as well as comparisons to previous sales periods.

Setup is a breeze.

After just 7 clicks and 5 minutes, your sales team’s opportunities are pushed into the TopOPPS system and you can immediately see what needs attention in your pipeline, and reps can start using the app on their mobile devices.

Powerful Customization

Do you use a monthly system instead of a quarterly system? Do you have milestones within each stage that are to be completed before advancing to the next stage? Do you want to be notified after an opportunity hasn’t been updated in two weeks? Or how about if an opportunity has been stuck in a single stage for over 30 days? Do you want a warning to be triggered when you are against that pesky competitor on an above average deal?

Using our dynamic graphs library, either settle in with our default graphs to identify outliers that need attention on specific metrics OR build up your own graphs comparing any metrics you want over any time period you’d like! Building custom reports and graphs is just two clicks away with no hoops to jump through!

While TopOPPS has excellent defaults out of the box, you’ll find you’re able to customize and tweak just about everything!

Common Objections

Why shouldn’t I just build my own in-house solution?

Realistically, there’s nothing stopping you from building this. However, do you really want to? Ours is already built, and you can be up and running in minutes!
Also, TopOPPS has an entire engineering team focused on this solution. We are 100% committed to optimizing the flow of Opportunities through the Sales Pipeline. Our solution is purpose built solely to solve that problem.

Our mobile app puts a Sales Rep’s opportunities at their fingertips, allowing for easy updates and direction on what opportunities need immediate attention. Our web app makes the entire pipeline quite clear to a Sales Manager, with our analytics and learning algorithms providing intelligence on trends to be aware of for success, and patterns that are in need of immediate attention to head off losing a deal.

Our complete solution is a feedback loop – the Sales Rep’s more constant updates through the easy to use mobile application feed more data to our analytics package and pipeline overview for our Sales Managers. Sales Managers are able to request updates on various opportunities from the Sales Reps, facilitating a communication channel that requires only a couple clicks and finger taps to complete. The learning algorithms take the constant flow of information and highlight to both the Reps and the Managers exactly what needs to be focused on.

Why not just use Salesforce1 / Competitor X, Y, or Z?

Salesforce1 suffers from the same issues as Salesforce.com. A sales rep using Salesforce1 has access to their opportunity pipeline, but also EVERYTHING ELSE on Salesforce. Just as with Salesforce.com, Salesforce1 is focused on providing a repository of customer data – it does a little bit of everything, and therefore cannot be laser focused on solving the problem of accelerating the sales pipeline. Without a purpose built solution for sales pipeline optimization, Sales reps have to jump through hoops and a bunch of taps/pages to find what they need.

Other solutions suffer from a similar issue – they have a more expansive, diverse offering, which some would consider an advantage – we consider it merely a distraction. They also tend to try to solve only one side of the problem – either the mobile side, or the Analytics / Sales Manager side. We believe you absolutely need both – you need the mobile / simple update solution to actually get up-to-date data to analyze, and the Analytics piece to show you insights into that data.

TopOPPS has the best of both worlds, as we are laser-focused on Opportunity Pipeline management and solve both sides of the problem. Our mobile solution doesn’t just dump all your data on you, but highlights the things that need your immediate attention and updates, putting them just a single finger tap away. Our Analytics and Reporting solution immediately makes clear your Sales Goal progress and forecast projection, and brings to the forefront the things that need your attention to hit that goal.

But tools like this have a long implementation process, and IT will have to add this project to their backlog…right?

Nope!

TopOPPS prides itself on our super-simple installation process that sets us apart from the traditional solutions. We reduce complexity and have a safe installation by not installing additional objects to your Salesforce instance.  We have tight integration with your existing custom fields you’ve added to your Opportunity object and make them first-class citizens in our app, and respect all your custom validation rules you’ve created on Salesforce.  As such, our app works quite well with even the most customized Salesforce organizations!

The installation process is dead simple – don’t take our word for it, let us prove it to you. Sign up for a free trial today!