Last week, I wrote about conversion rates and the importance of understanding (and always improving) these percentages at each stages of the lead qualification and sales process. This week, I’d like to focus specifically on the conversion rates once an opportunity has been created, and stress the importance of regularly reviewing opportunities via sales opportunity review sessions to remove bottlenecks.
The bottleneck, particularly with the early-stage opportunities at expansion-stage companies, may actually be that not enough is known about the deal because the questions haven’t been asked, the prospect hasn’t been touched (emailed and called) enough, and/or the information has not been recorded in your CRM.
One thing I’ve noticed with many of the sales teams I support is that forecast reviews happen often, pipeline reviews (where opportunities that have surpassed a certain stage — lets just say 50% — are reviewed) happen less often, and all open opportunity reviews happen… well, barely ever.
Now don’t’ get me wrong. Some companies have a LOT of opportunities that are being generated for the sales reps, particularly if you’ve got very productive lead qualification engines (inbound and outbound). Reviewing all opportunities each week sounds crazy, right?
Well, not as crazy as losing out on major deals because your sales team’s cherry picking behaviors and lack of upkeep of all opportunities (early or late stage) in their name. Let’s not forget, if you’ve got a lead qual team generating these opportunities these leads are EXPENSIVE! Way too expensive to neglect.
Rule of thumb: If you aren’t hitting your sales number and your conversion rate of opportunity to closed deal is less than 20% then all opportunities need to be reviewed weekly with each sales rep individually. Yes, it will take some time, but this won’t be forever, and it will be worth your while once that pipeline looks richer.
What should be discussed in the weekly one-on-one sales opportunity review meeting:
- What stage is the opportunity in and why?
- How much is the opportunity worth and why?
- What was your last step and why?
- What is your next step and why?
- When will this deal close and why?
In due time, as you get more and more comfortable and confident that your reps have proper upkeep with all opportunities, have this meeting every other week.
Then, as you get that much more comfortable have this meeting every other week and randomly pick five or so opportunities in each stage to review.
But until then, don’t just sweep this stuff under the rug. And don’t assume that all opportunities in your reps’ names are being tended to. Remember, most reps only care about what is closing this quarter, or maybe even this month. Your sales person may not be thinking about the deal that sounds like it might close next year because, well, they worry they might not even be there next year if they don’t hit their number this quarter. Catch my drift?
If a lead has been converted to an opportunity (and, of course, you’ve got a solid/ agreed upon definition of what an opportunity is) this prospect needs and deserves attention, follow-up, and purpose. Whether that attention comes from your sales reps or from your lead qual team, that’s for you to decide. But it needs to happen, and you need to be able to see it all in your CRM!