Percentages in sales funnels suck.
They are typically meaningless, and they create problems up and down the sales function from front line salespeople who over/under estimate their true chance of closing the deals in their funnel to the sales leaders who are held accountable to guesstimates entered by their salespeople.
The two products created when percentages are used in sales funnels are demotivation and turnover.
A challenge with shifting away from percentages is they appear to provide meaningful insight and give us a little endorphin rush when we look at the percentages and see a significant dollar value of opportunities sitting between 50 and 90% (whatever that means).
We can shift away from percentages and create meaningful metrics that support both us and our salespeople by checking three boxes:
- Define our sales stages and the non-negotiable boxes to be checked at each stage – this gives our reps freedom to focus on the boxes to check, which our prospect may check without us asking
- Track how long each opportunity stays in each stage, how many days it takes to go from “hello” to “closed” and publish those numbers – publishing those numbers gives our salespeople the opportunity to analyze their own funnels and create plans to clean them/refill them. As the Sandler Rule goes, they can’t argue with their own data. Them coming up with their own plan means they are more motivated to execute than if we gave them a plan and said, “do this.” Before publishing our best practise is to track for at least 30 days after checking box one so the data is cleaner.
- At sales funnel meetings only discuss opportunities closing in 30, 60, 90 days – if an opportunity is closing in 30, 60 or 90 it will be at some stage in our process and our salespeople will still have some boxes to check to bring the opportunity to close so we can spend our time addressing real action steps instead of wasting time discussing opportunities that mostly hopium.
With those three boxes checked, our coaching sessions can be more productive because we will have real data to discuss instead of “my tummy thinks you’re not performing,” it is hard for our salespeople to sandbag or blue sky their funnel reports and it is easier for our reps to give us an accurate report of what our market is doing now and is likely to do in the near future (if they have real permission to do so).
Breaking our addiction to percentages in our sales funnel reports is simple, but not easy. Check each box in order and it will feel less challenging and create quick wins to inspire checking the next box.
Until next time… go lead.