Defining Your Sales Milestones
In today’s technology industry, business-to-business decisions are rarely made by one person. The typical buying decision cycle is overly democratized with input from the following personnel:
- Executive Sponsor
- Economic Buyer
- Technical Buyer
- End User
This means getting everyone to agree has become more of a challenge than ever before. While one must always look at these decision makers, influencers, and sometimes posers, one should also look at what pieces of information are necessary to actually close a deal, regardless of who is involved in the final decision. Often times people refer to the “Stage” of the opportunity and will define it as Qualifying, Defining, Developing, Negotiating, Pending, and Closed depending on its status. We actually think it goes deeper than this. In some cases the stages may actually be irrelevant even when creating some structure around a fluid process. What is more important than the stages you ask? Well, it is what takes place in every deal. When specific, or “hard data points,” are seen we call these milestones. “Soft data points” can also be seen, and these are known as attributes.
At every part of the sales cycle certain things must occur before the deal can move forward. If you can identify those milestones within your deal cycle, and then determine which ones are the most important you will be able to focus your business activities on supporting the accomplishment of those milestones.
Here is a list of the top milestones we see in almost every deal:
- Inbound Interest – someone has raised their hand asking for information
- Outbound Interest – Someone has responded positively to a direct message sent from a sales person.
- Qualitative Call Occurred
- Discovery/ Demonstration Call Occurred
- Non-disclosure Agreement Received
- Timeline Confirmed
- Executive Sponsor Commitment
- Decision Making Criteria Understood
- Commercial Terms Understood
- Contracting Process Understood
- Contracts out for Redline
Unfortunately sales is not an exact science. Tracking milestones, while absolutely necessary and critical, cannot be the only thing that influences the sales cycle. Other factors surrounding the milestones also affect the sales cycle. These attributes are things you may not be able to control, but know they exist.
Here is a list of the attributes we also think affect the sales cycle:
- Budget cycles
- Calendar Cycles (Yours & Theirs)
- Industry or Vertical
- Company Size
- Title of Primary Contact
Now comes the best part, what if there were a tool that could successfully marry milestones and attributes in your forecast? One that could actually provide a score and help you understand the real potential of a deal closing in a specific time frame. Now there is one. Contact us to find out more.