Building a robust sales pipeline is essential to the success of your sales team. No matter how good your product is, or how effective your sales team is at closing deals, a weak or under-developed pipeline will prevent your numbers from being anywhere close to where they need to be. During the discovery process, your sales team uncovers key information that helps the rep determine the most appropriate strategy to move the lead through the pipeline (see: How to Improve Sales Discovery on the First Call). Sales management is limited to the rep’s subjective assessment of the probability of the opportunity closing and quite often this estimate is wrong. There is a process that will increase the accuracy of your pipeline forecasting.
How to transform sales discovery from notes to data
We have lots of data to manage sales activity and are well versed in that process. However, when we turn our attention to sales effectiveness, we only have the traditional approach of training and coaching. There is no data to help us quantify the key roadblocks or unique advantages that our reps are actually experiencing.
One of the distinct advantages of the Insight Sales Process™ is that it quantifies input garnered from calls and meetings into actionable data. Instead of being forced to use the sales reps’ interpretation of their engagement into a probability of closure, you now have a quantifiable and standardized analysis. Instead of needing to understand how good or bad a particular sales rep is at reading and understanding a sales situation, you can simply check the Insight Sales Index™ to know exactly where you stand in terms of closing a deal.
Properly using the Insight Sales Process™ for pipeline forecasting
Just like a traditional pipeline forecast, Insight Pipeline Forecasting requires a robust discovery process, during which the right questions are asked by your sales team. In fact, asking the right questions is even more important with the Insight Sales Process™, as the Insight Sales Index™ depends on answers to specific questions.
The Insight Sales Process™ differentiates the discovery process by defining the specific list of questions each sales rep needs to ask in order to establish the Insight Sales Index™. Your entire sales team can play a part in the creation of these key insights and the Insight Sales Panel you are using, so that they have an innate understanding of the discovery questions that must be asked and their relative importance. If any of your sales reps were not involved in the creation of your team’s Insight Sales Panel, they should undergo a training program so that they have the same understanding as the rest of the team (see: Retraining Your Sales Team to Increase Sales)
How to leverage your Insight-sales pipeline forecast
The Insight Sales Index™ gives your sales team a very clear picture of how likely it is for each of their leads to close. It is calculated by using predetermined scores for the answers to each insight question in the discovery process. In addition to providing your team with a far more accurate pipeline forecast, this also provides each sales rep the opportunity for self-management as they begin to recognize patterns of success and roadblocks that are preventing them from increasing their performance. This approach might also help prioritize their efforts on situations with a higher propensity to close.
As you begin to use the Insight Sales Process and develop the Insight Sales Index™ for opportunity management you will develop a much more accurate pipeline. You will now have a consistent and reliable data-driven process for sale effectiveness improvement and you will see productivity gains in the first few months.