As part of its sales force evaluation process, Objective Management Group (OMG) conducts a pipeline analysis and determines both the quality of the pipeline and the quantity of the pipeline. We ask each salesperson to submit 4 proposal-ready opportunities and then we run the analysis.
If we were reviewing a full pipeline instead of just 4 proposal-ready opportunities for each salesperson, an ideal sales pipeline would look like this:
Because we are only conducting the analysis on their proposal-ready opportunities, the pipeline should appear like this instead, with all of the opportunities showing up in either the completely-qualified or closable stages:
In most companies, our analysis reveals that the proposal-ready opportunities should not have been placed in that stage. Salespeople skip steps, don't thoroughly qualify, fail to ask enough questions and have doubts about how strong the opportunities really are. In most cases, these opportunities are not really proposal-ready so we restage the company's pipeline based on the information that has and hasn't been established. Here's an actual restaged pipeline from a recent sales force evaluation:
As you can see, 91% of the proposal-ready opportunities did not belong in either the qualified or closable stage!
How does this happen?
I've written about most of these reasons before. The skill gaps include:
- Happy Ears
- Ineffective Listening Skills
- Failure to Identify Compelling Reasons to Buy
- Incomplete Qualification
These days, most companies name inaccurate forecasts as one of the top three problems that they need to resolve, but the forecast is a symptom, not a problem. It's not even lack of training, as much as it's lack of the correct training.
If you would like more accurate forecasting, a good first step would be to either evaluate your sales force to identify the problems that are causing the inaccurate forecasts, or to attend my premier sales leadership conference next month in Boston.