THE SALES MANAGER’S GUIDE TO
Five practical tenets to determine how to
exceed the number
Courtesy of TopOPPS
Jim Eberlin, Founder & CEO
From my continuous research and my career in sales – I found these strategies that
help maximize the sales performance of sales management and sales reps. These
data-driven best practices can be used to predict the sales number, coach the
team in 1:1 sessions, improve win rates and increase the probability of exceeding
Prior to coming up with these best practices, I did what I find many are doing now
to run their sales organization and manage their team.
How I used to manage to the number and coach:
Prior to meeting 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. After this up
front analysis, a meeting was set between the sales rep and myself. We would
look over a report showing all the deals and come up with our gut feeling on what
was good in the pipeline now and what we would expect the rep to bring in on top
of what’s currently in the pipeline. We would subjectively place opportunities in
the appropriate stage and commit the ones we thought looked highly probable.
We thought it was great 1:1 time because we strategized next steps on deals
together – but not really. We spent so much time starting from scratch and getting
things in order. And without a consistent process, what one rep said was a 50%,
another might say is 75% – there was a lot to adjust to. The only confidence I had in
their number came after a ton of questions about the top 5 deals. But 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
By Jim Eberlin, CEO & Founder of TopOPPS
How I do it now:
Prior to any analysis or coaching of the team – I make sure that our sales team is
executing properly in the following 3 areas:
Everyone knows the sales game plan:
Quarterly Business Reviews
Management and the sales team know the sales process and it is consistent -
Winning Sales Process Guidebook
Pipeline hygiene – how to get real deals in order and remove junk from the
How To Identify Pipeline Junk
Feel free to read ahead if you do not have these 3 areas covered but before you
execute on the following 5 steps – you HAVE to have them in place or it doesn’t work.
First, the fundamentals.
Determine the number we can hit.
I meet with the sales reps individually and also work with the entire team’s aggregate
Predict what will close from existing sales pipeline
Assuming we have the proper level of hygiene in the pipeline and we are all
following the same rigorous sales process – we use quantitative and qualitative
information to help us score opportunities and commit the ones that are highest
probability to close.
Predict additional pipeline yet to be generated that will close within the
Depending on how long it takes to sell a deal, some deals will get added and
close that are not in the pipeline yet. We analyze previous sales periods to
determine when opportunities get generated and the percentage of those that
get closed within the same period. This number changes daily, for example, the
sales cycle may exceed the number of days left in the sales period – so these
deals are not counted until next period.
We can still close a % of
these leads within the quarter
Don’t count, these leads will
close next quarter
Sales Period: Q1
TopOPPS automatically organizes
opportunities and then scores and
ranks them by stage progress,
ideal customers, and momentum
TopOPPS predicts what will close in the pipeline AND what is yet to be generated
and closed in the future.
Current pipeline that will close Future pipeline that will be generated & closed
Here’s just 4 reasons TopOPPS is so accurate in determining what will close
in the pipeline plus future business:
TopOPPS automatically enforces sales process rules to confirm exactly
what stage an opportunity belongs – every opportunity is consistent and
easier to measure conversions.
TopOPPS automatically scores opportunities based on momentum,
progress and ideal customer profile and will tell you when to take action
and when to close lost a deal.
The algorithm is trained better because of the guided behaviors and
easier updates by reps.
Activity is automatically updated within sales opportunities because of
integration with email, calendar meetings, and mobile.
How long does it take to win a deal and what is the Average Selling Price (ASP)?
Before I do the next step of confirming the health of the pipeline – I need to understand
the sales cycle and average selling price (ASP). Knowing the sales cycle and ASP
helps me understand the production and yields of the pipeline – how many
opportunities are in the pipeline and in what period they should close based on when it
entered the pipeline. This helps me get a good handle on our conversion rates.
I compare deals to the mean (average selling price) and mode (how often we sell at
that price range) and do a similar comparison to selling time. Currently, the majority of
our Ideal Customer Profile’s sales cycle is 73 days to win a deal from initial meeting.
Now that I know time and ASP of the majority of our deals – I can confirm the math of
predicted pipeline conversion. And, I can continue to work with the reps on improving
sales performance and selling value.
Cycle Time & ASP
Pipeline development and production to hit the number:
My pipeline tells me a story based on the different yields from our conversion rates.
For example, pipeline conversions tell me the story of our health and Sales Qualified
Leads (SQL) conversions tell me how many meetings I’ll need my development team
to produce for each rep. I examine at least 3 quarters separately on how many
converted to a sale. To ensure continuous pipeline development and production – I
look at what pre-existing opportunities were there at the beginning of the quarter and
what were newly added opps within that quarter. I make sure we are steadily
increasing new opps and that pre-existing opps are getting closed. This also helps me
predict what will happen in future quarters. Our conversions are increasing quarter
over quarter by at least 1% of total pipeline.
Our sales process is consistent – so we don’t have huge fluctuations. We are
increasing conversions QOQ on initial sales meetings by at least 1 to 2%. For additional
ways to analyze the health of your pipeline, check out how TopOPPS does this on the
next two pages.
Confirm the Pipeline
Confirm the Pipeline
In this example, of all the deals William Burris expected to close in Q4 ‘16:
He had 32 meetings (SQLs)
He closed 6% of them
His sticking point is Qualification – 36% of deals move to next stage
All other stages he advances deals at a higher rate 60% to 90%.
I can see how many he closed, lost and pushed in Q4
I can see what happened to those deals since Q4
Confirm the Pipeline
It’s important to know the composition of the pipeline and what happened to it.
By clicking into any sales period, TopOPPS will tell you how much was new, open,
closed, scheduled to win, pushed to future periods and multiple pushes. It will also
tell you when it closed or if it’s still open when you select any set of leads or
opportunities from any sales period.
In this example, it tells us
we are behind in lead
generation but only by 3
leads on this same day
Example: Are we winning commits?
I track individual metrics that help me – help my reps. One of the important metrics are
commit win rates. I like to see how well a rep knows their business – and by tracking
how many of their commits actually win it provides for a good indicator. The commit
win rate is a great way to help coach a rep on how to determine the best deals to go
after and to effectively commit a deal.
Below are the key metrics my reps and I discuss to improve sales performance:
Is William Burris performing better? Does he know his business?
For Q4 ‘16:
He won 10% of all leads
He won 5% of those predicted to be won in Q4.
He won 69% of commits
His ASP was $127.2
Metrics to Help
Reps Improve Sales Performance
Are we on track?
I like to look at pipeline and bookings in the same week from the last period. This
helps me know if we are ahead or behind in the game. I look at this for the whole
team. As we get closer to the end of the period and determine if we’ll hit our number, I
only look at later stage deals that can still close in the same period. To make sure our
pipeline remains healthy, I like to look at lead production – so I’ll watch how many
meetings we had by week while comparing to the same week last period. By getting
ahead of how we are tracking – I will have enough time to determine if we’ll have a gap
in meeting the number and start pulling in deals from the following sales period. We
don’t have the last minute scramble to hit our number.
This is the report I access to determine if we are behind or ahead of the game and how
to fill the gaps. It’s important to compare pipeline and bookings to where you were in
the same week last period (and previous periods).
This example shows 12 weeks of the quarter
We are behind $300K in pipeline in Q1
vs. Q4 in 2nd week.
For more information on TopOPPS
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.
to see how TopOPPS will automate
these best practices giving you better insights
on strategy and winning!