If you happened to read the article about most salespeople being fired or arrested if they worked in accounting then this is the sequel - Arrested 2!
That article focused on the number of late-stage opportunities in the pipeline. Objective Management Group (OMG) conducts a pipeline analysis as part of its Sales Force Evaluations. We ask salespeople to answer nineteen questions on four late-stage, proposal-ready, closable opportunities each. In addition to looking at and rating the quality of the pipeline, we then go and re-stage their pipeline based on their answers. It's pretty cool and the re-staging looks like what I described in this article.
The premise is that if we ask for late-stage, proposal-ready, or closable, then 100% of the opportunities should be in either the qualified or closable stage. I looked into the percentage of opportunities that required re-staging sorted by sales percentile and once again, the findings are powerful and insightful.
Take a peek at the table below where you can see the percentage of opportunities that we replaced in each stage, organized by sales percentile.
The first thing you'll notice is that without exception, the percentages correlate perfectly with sales percentile. This is powerful because OMG does NOT use pipeline data to calculate sales percentile. So the opportunity percentages by stage serve to validate of our sales percentile scores in one more way!
Elite (5%) and Strong (15%) salespeople represent around 20% of the population, while around 50% of all salespeople are weak and the other 30% or so are serviceable. Notice that elite salespeople had 150% more of their opportunities remain in a late stage (qualified or closable) than weak salespeople who only saw 16% of theirs remain late stage. That's right. 84% of their opportunities were restaged to either the suspect or prospect stages of the pipeline.
As with the other articles that dig deep into the data, this is less of a surprise and more of a confirmation of what most of us have suspected and believed. But like the data, it goes deeper. You've heard the expression, "Inspect what you expect" and it is so true with pipeline. Before you give elite salespeople a free pass, note that even they had 60% of their opportunities restaged!
My takeaway is that organizations must move from pipeline reviews and forecasts, to pipeline inspections and justifications. Only then will coaching be in the proper context and will forecasts become accurate and reliable.
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