You sold the champion, they are going to escalate this to the next level and now you have to navigate the waters of the organization to the top.
What are they looking for? – Budget, timeline, how much effort is involved, scaling the risk and how much does each department have to be involved.
So lets start doing the same for the opportunities in the pipeline. Let’s give them the same level of review that we give when we are buying. The average deal in Saas is 40k. Now in a pipeline that can look like a ‘small deal’ but lets keep in mind, we are talking about a new Toyota Camry. (not adjusted for inflation, so play along)
Budget – Internally we are budgeting a cash runway based on sales we expect to come in, if we are only reviewing the top dollar deals or the late stage, are you making sure the Csuite is budgeting only based on those deals? You definitely should not be, but that is the current stage of sales.
Timeline – We internally use the GAP method so we base timelines on the size of the business problem. Remember business is always motivated to avoid risk before they are willing to improve on a process. So lets start using the size of the business problem to set an accurate forecast, and not just list everything as closing by the end of the quarter.
Effort – You are a sales manager, you need to recognize that part of the job going forward will involve evaluating every single opportunity. The only way to accurately scale a pipeline is to know what information is included in a deal slated to close. This is where we are going to replace the friday sales meeting with accurate feedback through the week. Lets not just focus effort on new tech, lets make sure we are consistently focusing effort on new opps as well.
Risk – Win rates are abysmal right now, and the main reason is focusing on product pitching over business problems, but that is an entirely different blog. The risk associated with an opportunity in the pipeline should be a strong indicator of the timeline, and ASP at signature time. Everybody wants a discount, but as a seller you should know the cost of inaction to be able to factor that into a conversation about final price.
Departments – The CRO relies on accurate visualization into the pipe to make decisions. The VP is creating the process to aid in making the process work. The reps are literally putting in the work. Which means the front line managers are going to carry the front end of the load. Implementing the process, confirming the systems are used, and making sure the sales cycle is being followed. Which includes reviewing opportunities to make sure everything is accurate and has a strong business case to close, or lets get it out of the pipe. We can make this even more streamline if we are checking opportunities as soon as they enter the pipeline.