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Anthony Iannarino
Updated: 2 hours 31 min ago

8 Critical Pipeline Metrics You Need to Measure

Mon, 2018-04-23 15:33

The number of sales-related metrics and KPIs are limitless. There are countless things that are worth monitoring and measuring, some more valuable than others, depending on your goals, what you sell, and how you sell. There are a few, however, that I find to be critical to increasing sales, whether you are coaching an individual or leading a large team.

The following list of metrics are something that I believe should be monitored, measured, and managed in what I would call a Pipeline Meeting (something that, for me, is different than an opportunity review meeting, where people spend much of their time discussing individual opportunities).

  1. New Opportunities Created: Salespeople do many things, but they roll up into two primary buckets. The first bucket is opportunity creation, the second is opportunity capture. One mistake that sales managers often make is to undervalue opportunity creation and focus exclusively on opportunity capture. By looking at the number of opportunities created, you capture a metric that measures how well you are doing in building your pipeline.
  2. Deal Size: It’s easy for a salesperson to perceive every prospect as being a good prospect, believing every prospect they pursue brings them that much closer to their goals. The reality suggests something different for most sales organizations, namely that the too small deals take as much time as larger deals while not contributing enough towards your goals. The size of a deal is important, and the average of these deals is a good indicator as to whether your salespeople are pursuing the right clients. This metric allows you to coach your team to focus on the right deals, not only those who appear to be more receptive.
  3. The Value of the Opportunities: Rarely do I ever see this metric being captured. Because the salesperson captures the value of an individual opportunity when they enter the information to the CRM, the individual value is looked at while the collective value is ignored. The value in the collective value of the opportunities created in a week is that it allows you to verify that you are generating enough new opportunities to meet your goals. If you have a goal of $20,000,000 in revenue, you need to win $384,000 in new business a week. Which brings us to win rates.
  4. Win Rates: This is a critical metric for determining how well you are doing at building your pipeline. We’re going to weave this metric together with the value of the opportunities created. If you have a 40% win rate, yielding $384,000 in new revenue a week means creating $961,000 in new opportunities each week. You need $50,000,000 in new opportunities annually to yield $20,000,000. When you underestimate what needs to happen in a week, you put your goal at risk.
  5. Segment: For some sales organizations, their teams cover different segments of markets. They may have one team that calls on more transactional business, another that calls on Small and Medium Businesses, and one that focuses exclusively on Enterprise clients. In cases where this is true, the segmentation can tell an important story. Looking at the metrics above as filtered by the segment allows you to ensure that you are growing the segments appropriately, or in some cases changing the focus of the sales force.
  6. Solution: When you sell products, services, and solutions, it can make sense to look at the pipeline through the filter of solution. Maybe you are doing well in products but lagging when it comes to services. Or you could be succeeding in services, but not selling the larger, compelling differentiated services that allow you to displace your competitors.
  7. Deals That Moved Forward: There are two metrics rolled up into this one view: number of deals, and value of deals. In B2B sales, deals progress over time, some moving faster, and some necessarily moving slower. What you want to ensure is that deals are progressing from week to week, that action is being taken to progress your opportunities. The number of deals moving forward is a good metric, and so is the value of those deals. But a word of caution here, as you also must look at the deals that moved backwards in stages or that fell out of the pipeline for one reason or another.
  8. Commitment: This is just a personal favorite for me because I believe that is an indicator that the opportunity is real and that the salesperson knows how to move the deal forward. The prompt that can be recorded is the commitment that the prospective client has made that indicates they have agreed to the next step. The 10 commitments I wrote about in The Lost Art of Closing are good guide posts, but you can capture these as customer-verifiable outcomes, or whatever makes sense for you and your organization.

If you want to see how I look at these metrics and how I use data visualization to assess pipeline performance, please join me for this webinar on Coaching Pipeline and Data Visualization with Microsoft’s suite of business analytics tools within PowerBI.

This post is sponsored by:

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Trust and Integrity Is the Currency in Which You Trade

Mon, 2018-04-23 04:07

A young salesperson reached out to offer me a favor. He wanted to use his company’s technology to take the list of OutBound 18’ attendees and provide me with insights about each of them before the conference. I rejected his request because I would not betray the trust of the people on the attendee list by giving their information to anyone other than the sponsors. I also had a sense that something was amiss.

The young salesperson persisted, tried again, this time sharing the truth. He explained that his company was new and that his CEO had charged with him finding a way to get the attendee list so that they could schedule meetings with the attendees at the event. They believed that their product would benefit the attendees by helping them with outbound sales efforts. The approach the salesperson and his CEO took was a “whatever it takes “attitude, the kind that doesn’t recognize the truth that trust and integrity are the currency in which you trade.

I emailed the young salesperson to caution him about his approach. He replied that he was hustling and that as someone who also pushes to build businesses, I must understand. In this, he was off the mark by the very widest of margins.

I shared this story with my friend, Jeb Blount, and he confirmed that the company tried to buy a sponsorship but weren’t able to invest. Hearing this from Jeb made a bad story every worse.

The story here is a cautionary tale. Had I been duped into providing this non-sponsor the list of attendees, not only would I have betrayed the trust of the attendees, but I would have also created a problem for the sponsors, who invested in the event. His lack of integrity would have become my lack of integrity.

There are too many lessons here to recount them all, but let me share a few.

There is never a reason to operate from a “whatever it takes” mindset if that idea allows you to do anything that subtracts from trust or throws your character into doubt. Whatever it takes is the mantra of those who are selfish and self-oriented and lack skillful means to get what they want and maintain their integrity.

If you allow yourself to become desperate and start looking for the “easy way,” the choice you make to try to avoid the work is probably one that causes you to do things that make you untrustworthy. You protect yourself from ever finding yourself in this situation by not putting yourself in situations where you are desperate.

You are better off suffering any negative consequences that come with failing if you leave with your character intact. Once you have established yourself as someone of low character and a willingness to lie to get what you want, you will have a tough time creating relationships.

A thief is always a thief, no matter how pleasant they may appear to be. A liar is a liar, even if they are charming, and even when they believe that they are lying for what they think to be a worthy cause.

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How to Make Your Territory Your Territory

Sun, 2018-04-22 07:33

You have no right to claim accounts in your territory if you are not putting forth the effort to pursue them.

The Planner:
The Training:

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The 7 Fights You Must Win on Your Way to Success

Sun, 2018-04-22 01:57

Success isn’t without its challenges. The real challenges, however, tend to be internal obstacles rather than external challenges. For many, these obstacles prove to be more difficult to overcome.

Negative Mindset: This may be the most difficult opponent you face. Most of our thoughts each day are negative. Almost everything that comes to you from the media is negative. You have friends and family member who, without meaning to, infect you with their negative thoughts and beliefs. If you want to be more, do more, have more, and contribute more, you must maintain a positive, future-oriented, empowered mindset.

Fear: Fear is healthy when it causes you to act. It is unhealthy when it prevents you from acting. The fight that you must win is the fight with your desire to respond to fear by freezing. You are not going to be attacked by a saber tooth tiger, but you are going to have to deal with conflict, difficult conversations, and difficult circumstances. You win this fight when you act in the face of your fear.

Self-Doubt: Self-doubt is a special subset of fear. It’s the voice of your inner critic that tells you that you aren’t good enough or smart enough to do what is you want to do. The little critic tells you that you are going to fail, that there is no reason to try. It reminds you that you are going to embarrass yourself, that others are going to laugh at you, that you will be shamed. You must win this fight against your inner critic by acting in spite that voice inside you.

Resistance: Inertia, the tendency to do nothing, is strong. It’s a law of nature that bodies at rest tend to stay at rest until acted on by some external force. If you need an external force to motivate you, your fight is with the part of you that resists doing whatever it is that you need to do. That resistance, that need to seek comfort and entertainment instead of effort, is your enemy. Your success requires that you beat it into submission by acting every day.

Too Small a Vision: You are capable of becoming more than you are now. This statement is true no matter how well you are doing now. So far, no one has ever found the upper limit on human achievement, there always being another level available to all those who continue to grow. Your battle is with the part of you that believes you cannot become any more than what you are now. You win when you see what you can become and move towards it every day.

Goals That Are Too Small: There is the idea of goals being SMART, an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. It’s a nice little frame, but it’s the “realistic” part that is problematic. No one ever dreamed big or accomplished anything noteworthy by “dreaming small” or “being realistic.” None of what you see around you was realistic before someone set an unrealistic goal. Your opponent here is the idea that you should lower goals to match those around you. You win when you dream bigger—and set the goals that get you there.

Being Judged: When you strive to do something, other people are going to judge you. You are going to cause them to feel bad about themselves, and in doing so, you initiate criticism. Most of this criticism will come from people who have not yet engaged in winning the conflicts listed here, the ones who are not doing anything to move themselves forward but are made jealous when you do what it is they fear. You win this skirmish when you ignore those who criticize without the intent of that criticism being constructive.

Awareness of your who your opponents are allows you to recognize them and helps you understand what is necessary to defeat them. Now get to work putting them down.

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 You Can Do It. The Question is Will You?

Fri, 2018-04-20 15:23

The difference between “can” and “will” is measured in the difference between the result one produces and the result one is capable of producing.

Even without knowing what one wants, it is almost certain that any individual can do what they need to do to have it. When said individual does not have what they want, there is almost a guaranteed lack of will, i.e., they are unwilling to pay the price to obtain it. The lack of “will do” is present even when a person denies lacking the will. In fact, you are every minute surrounded by overwhelming evidence of this truth.

If you want something you don’t have, it’s because you have seen it. You have evidence that it is possible. You might even have noticed that the person who has what you want is not all that different from you, and they might even lack some of the skills, abilities, and other intangibles you already possess. There may also be a few who have what you want who didn’t have the knowledge or skills and had to pay the price to gain them before they achieved that thing you want. Either way, if they could do all those things necessary to produce some result, you can do the same. But the “can” isn’t what allows some to succeed where others fail. It’s the “will do.”

People who succeed at achieving any goal exercise their will, their “me management.” They will themselves to do what others will not, and that willingness is visible in the results they produce. Those who achieve any worthwhile goal pay the price to have what they want, and they pay it in full, without fail, and without complaint.

The willingness to pay the price in time, energy, and resources is what allows two people to produce wildly different results. The willingness to invest in the result you want instead of spending these resources on comfort and entertainment is how you achieve your goals. Your results exactly match your real goals.

The question is not, “Can you?” The question is, “Will you?”

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Don’t Fake It Until You Make It

Thu, 2018-04-19 21:27

The idea that one should fake it until one makes it is rather odd (and poor) advice. What value is there in being a fake, a phony? More still, how does faking it lead to making it (whatever that means)! Dressing up in the clothes, buying all the gear, and posing does not make you that thing. Instead, it makes you a poseur.

Instead of pretending to be something you’re not, become that thing that you want to be. Follow the advice of Emerson, recognizing that we become what we think about most of the time. Nightingale shortened this to “We become what we think about.” Period. And it’s true.

The vision of what you want to become is the starting point. You must see clearly what you want to become. Then you must begin doing the work to become it. Don’t pretend to be something; actually, become it by taking the actions that all of those who came before you took in becoming whatever it is you aspire to.

You are better off being a bad version of whatever you are trying to be than you are faking it. If you paint, you are a painter, even if not a very good one. The tools of the painter don’t make you a painter, only painting does. If you want to be a writer, then write. You won’t be faking anything because you will be a writer simply through the act itself. You will have written. Every master started out as an amateur, and their work was no less embarrassingly bad than yours.

The making it part is more difficult. In some endeavors, one’s mastery is no guarantee of success (at least as it is defined by some). That is in larger part determined by will and perseverance. But if success is defined as mastery, working on becoming what you want to become is almost guaranteed.

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Are You the Dangerous Type?

Wed, 2018-04-18 17:36

If you were to walk in the back door of your dream client’s account and speak to one of the contacts who cares about what you do, would your competitor have reason to be concerned? Should they fear your very presence inside the building as an existential threat? Or, would they feel confident that there is no way you could create an opportunity to displace them?

This might sound like a question about how well your competitor has their client locked up, but it isn’t. It’s a question about whether your approach allows you to create an opportunity by helping the client discover something about themselves and opening up a gap. Your company’s first 8 slides are not going to compel your dream client to change. Nor is it likely that a traditional discovery process is going to do enough to overcome the status quo.

The dangerous type of salesperson is strategic, meaning they know how to initiate conversations about strategic outcomes, things that matter, systemic issues that are difficult to resolve. You pose no threat if the best you can do is share features and benefits. There is no danger in a salesperson who provides no more danger than a catalogue that comes in the mail.

The dangerous salesperson has the ability to find and engage the people who are necessary to change and bring them into the process. They can enter the organization at the highest level, the lowest level, or anywhere between and wire the building. You are no danger if you can’t move vertically and horizontally within the four walls of your dream client’s company.

When it comes to the intangibles, the dangerous type of salesperson has them in spades. They have the ability to develop relationships, to look and sound like a peer, and to create a preference to work with them because of the value they create (which is something different than the value their company or their product creates). Without the intangibles, there are salespeople who can walk into your dream client’s building and leave without anything changing inside their four walls.

What makes one dangerous is their ability to create a situation where a competitive displacement is possible—or likely.

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Be Open to Having Your Views Shaped

Wed, 2018-04-18 04:28

If you want to be a trusted advisor, you need to advise. You need a strong opinion and a point of view that is informed by your knowledge and experience. You need the ability to help your clients see new possibilities and make the decisions that move them forward. You help your client discover something about themselves. This is in large part a new way of looking at discovery, and it helps you shape your client’s thinking and their preference to work with you.

But just because you are shaping your client’s thinking doesn’t mean you can’t also allow them to help shape your thinking. In fact, a lot of what you know has come from what you have learned from your clients, and as the result of serving them.

What this means is that even if you need to teach your clients how to think about their business, sharing some new idea, sharing research, and sharing your opinion and your point of view, that you can also open a conversation in which you, too, are learning. You can frame the conversation in such a way that the learning runs in both directions, providing you with greater context and the ability to provide better counsel. This is important, but there is another reason to be open to having your views shaped: respect for your client’s knowledge and experience.

Even if you are going to share something your client doesn’t know, you can still open the conversation by saying, “A lot of what I am going to show you here you may already know. I’d like to share our view, and I’d like to ask you to share your ideas and opinions.” You can be both a teacher and a student at the same time, and you can demonstrate the kind of partner you are going to make later, the kind that is collaborative, respecting other people’s views and making room for them in the conversation.

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