Why visibility of your sales team’s activity is vital to achieving opportunity progression

Author: Christina Bruce

Why visibility of your sales team’s activity is vital to achieving opportunity progression

How often have your sales team been provided a target or budget for the year (or quarter, etc.) only for them to come back with concerns that the target is unachievable, or questioning how the target was generated?

How often are your team telling (and showing) you how busy they are, but there’s no clarity or visibility around the opportunities they’re working on?

These situations are common – and they often happen in tandem. At the start of a new year, businesses will nearly always plan for more growth, more sales, more profit. A lot of this responsibility will fall on the sales team – who are left wondering where this growth is expected to come from.

Expecting your sales team to deliver growth year on year, without a clear plan, is setting them up for failure. That’s why it pays to plan – in a way that not only gives the team visibility into how their sales target was generated or created, but also enables them to feel confident that they are on track as the year progresses to achieve that target.

Sales targets are challenging without a plan

James Clear, author of bestselling book Atomic Habits, once said, “you don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems Quite simply, setting a target is the easy bit.  Planning to achieve it is much harder.

Without a clear plan  your sales team is not set up for success – and the year can easily and quickly slip away. Before you know it, the team are falling further and further behind target, becoming more and more desperate to catch up.

Often, they’ll attempt to catch up with any means necessary – chasing any business just to try and bring in the number. Pushing approvals for more and more discounts hoping it will help them close business faster. Or worse – dropping prices before they should even be having a price discussion.

The best plan is a robust sales pipeline process

Not all plans are built the same. The quality of the plan will determine the quality of the outcomes.

In this case, your ‘plan’ should be a sales pipeline with  stages that are aligned to the buyer’s journey. It should also include stage criteria that clearly defines the selling work needed to progress opportunities through each stage.

This will enable you to coach your team more effectively and, importantly, determine just how many opportunities the team need to be identifying and pursuing each year to achieve their sales target.

It will also work to :

  • Provide transparency across each team members activities and ensure they are working on the right kinds of deals
  • Build confidence, amongst managers and the team, that each team member is doing the type of selling work they need to do
  • Identify when there is going to be a target shortfall by helping to understand when there’s not enough opportunities vs. when (and why) opportunities aren’t progressing

Additionally, if you do find that you are going to fall short for your target, the sales pipeline will help you manage the expectations of your internal stakeholders. You’ll be able to clearly explain why you’re going to miss, by how much, and what you’re going to do about it. It will allow you to put a corrective plan of action in place, so the performance isn’t repeated – without having to resort to discounts.

If you need help implementing an effective Sales Pipeline, or support refining your existing process, the Sellabilities® Pipeline Fundamentals program can help you do that. Contact our team to find out more.

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