Managing the sales pipeline is absolutely one of the most critical processes for a sales manager or sales VP to master throughout their career. The sales pipeline is designed to show all opportunities from newly identified opportunities through opportunities about ready to close. Organizations that fail to have adequate pipeline visibility tend to experience major challenges in accurately predicting future revenue, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the sales team, accelerating deals through the pipeline, and ultimately ending up with inaccurate forecasts and missing their quotas.
For the reasons listed above, many sales organizations have taken great steps to build a formal sales process, manage their opportunities from their CRM solution, and have sales executives spend many hours per quarter speaking with sales reps to determine which opportunities will most likely be converted into closed sales.
So what’s missing from this process? There are many dynamic data points that determine the health of a good opportunity that cannot be captured in today’s leading CRM systems, and simple conversations don’t adequately enable sales execs to capture all of the necessary opportunity data. In addition, the entire CRM opportunity management process is dependent upon sales reps updating all of the key opportunity information in a complete, accurate, and timely fashion. The reality is that complete and timely sales rep opportunity updates is a major challenge for most organizations, and many sales executives are still utilizing the “gut feel” approach to determining which deals should be added to the quarterly forecasts and beyond. At the end of the day, this whole process becomes a nightmare for the sales reps, sales managers, sales executives, and sales operations professionals.
How do you achieve true pipeline visibility? First of all, you need to enable your sales reps to easily make CRM updates through the use of a user interface that utilizes the “one touch” approach. The “one touch’” approach enables sales reps to update opportunities on a mobile device, iPad, or desktop view and will update 100’s of CRM data points with one click. Secondly, organizations must replace typical generic CRM opportunity stage percentages with a true data driven approach utilizing timely quantitative, qualitative, real-time alerts, and historical data points to determine the true health of an opportunity. Finally, it’s critical to clearly locate where deals are stuck in the pipeline and produce analytics on companies’ opportunity wheelhouse, sales cycles, and rep performance. All of this needs to be a totally automated process that enables sales reps, sales managers, sales executives, and sales operations professionals to have a 360 degree view of each opportunity at a quick glance, and the detail needs to be one click away.
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