Weeding out weak opportunities (and improving sales forecast accuracy)

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 10-Aug-2016

How can B2B sales people (and the sales organisations they work for) identify and engage the prospects that are most likely to buy from them?

In even the most successful B2B sales organisations there is always a significant fall-off between the number of qualified sales opportunities that enter the top of the sales funnel and the number that eventually emerge as customers.

In less effective sales organisations this fall-off from top to bottom of funnel is significantly higher - and often happens later in the sales cycle, compounded by the number of “zombie deals” that have somehow managed to remain in the sales pipeline despite showing no recent signs of life.

If we’re destined to lose, then we had better lose early - before we have invested significant resources in pursuing a set of opportunities that are never likely to buy from us. But that takes discipline, and a determination to ruthlessly weed out weak opportunities...

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Mastering the Close Date Conundrum

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 17-Feb-2016

Predicting close dates is one of the most challenging aspects of accurate forecasting in complex sales environments. It’s particularly difficult in new business situations where the vendor has no past history of successfully selling to the prospect. Under these circumstances, it can be hard for the sales person to make a well-informed initial judgement as to when the opportunity is likely to close.

It’s easy to see why these initial estimates often prove to be inaccurate. The challenge is compounded by the fact that most CRM systems will not allow you to create a new opportunity without entering a close date. So it’s no surprise that this initial prediction is no more than a guesstimate, and often requires at least one adjustment.

But that first adjustment is often just the start of a series of slippages, to the point where it’s hard to have any confidence that even the very latest projected close date will actually be achieved…

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The problem with assigning fixed percentages to pipeline stages

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 2-Jul-2015

On average, fewer than 50% of forecasted opportunities close at the predicted value and time - and the figure is usually far worse in early stage companies without an established track record of successfully closing business.

Its no wonder that revenue forecast accuracy is a huge frustration for CEOs and a frequent source of tension with both their Board of Directors and their sales leadership. After all, how hard can it be to work out when an opportunity a sales person been pursuing for months is going to close?

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The HBR dismantle the “sales machine”

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 22-Oct-2013

As I pointed out in a recent article, we’re going to need fewer, smarter B2B sales people. But that’s not all: we’re going to need to support them in a much smarter, less prescriptive sales environment - at least that’s the position put forward in the latest edition of the Harvard Business Review.

I admit it: I used to be a process evangelist, but I’ve become increasingly wary of the perceived benefits of implementing a rigid, prescriptive sales process in which every sales person is expected to follow a set of narrowly defined “best practices” - and to waste a deal of their time documenting the fact they have followed each step in their CRM system.

Unleash your sales people's creativity

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B2B Sales: Has SFA Really Reached a Tipping Point?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Mon 16-Jan-2012

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book of the same name, pointed out the power of “The Tipping Point”, and sought to demonstrate with a series of examples how little things can make a big difference. Now Lauren Carlson of Software Advice has picked up on the theme in a recent blog, in which she asks whether SFA (and its more widely targeted superset CRM) has passed a tipping point?

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Forrester: Your Brand is too important to be left to Marketing

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 1-Dec-2011

The late Dave Packard, co-founder of HP, once made the observation that “marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department”. Having just listened to a presentation by Forrester VP Nate Elliott, I’m inclined to add that your brand is - equally - far too important to be left to marketing

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3 Key Insights from Benioff’s Social Enterprise Keynote at Cloudforce London

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 15-Sep-2011

In the company of thousands of others - both in the venue and on-line - I listened with rapt attention in London’s Royal Festival Hall to Marc Benioff’s keynote speech at Cloudforce 2011. Under the over-arching theme of “The Social Enterprise”, Benioff laid out his vision for the future - and showed that much of it was already being achieved by some of today’s most effectively-managed companies…

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Hubspot and Salesforce Showcase The B2B Social Revolution

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 10-Aug-2011

I attended a fascinating webinar on Monday on The Social Revolution: Connecting With Today’s Customer given by George Hu (@GeorgeHuSF), EVP Marketing & Platform of and Brian Halligan (@bhalligan), CEO & Co-Founder of Hubspot. For those of you who missed it, I recommend that you take a look at the recorded webinar, but I wanted to share a few of the headlines in the meantime…

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Forrester - Which CRM Metrics Really Matter?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 19-Jul-2011

Bill Band of Forrester Research has just published the results of his latest study into “The Right CRM Metrics for Your Organisation”. It’s an issue that I see many organisations struggling with. Just because you can measure something doesn’t mean that you should measure it - or that the results will be meaningful. It turns out that why you measure something is just as important as how you measure it...

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Why Less Than 1 in 5 CRM Systems Actually Increase Revenues

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 23-Jun-2011

Why have so many companies invested in CRM systems? According to the latest data from CSO Insights, the overriding goal for most sales organisations is to increase revenues - and yet only 19% of the companies surveyed believed that their CRM investments had achieved this. Here’s one reason why less than 1 in 5 CRM systems actually increase revenues - and what to do about it...

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