Your sales reps don’t have infinite time. If they did, you could have them lavish enormous amounts of energy on every open opportunity in their pipeline. But in the real world, you must make sure your reps spend enough time working the opportunities that really matter, which unfortunately means giving the short shrift to others. It’s not ideal, but it’s the hard truth about inside sales.
But how do you prioritize your reps’ open opportunities to ensure that they’re spending enough time on the ones that are most likely to convert? The answer lies in using historical data to identify buyer behavior.
To do this, you must use the following 3 metrics to separate the winners and losers in your reps’ pipelines:
Look back at the last 100 opportunities your sales team closed. Is there a stark difference between the length of time Closed-Won and Closed-Lost deals spent in the pipeline? On average, eventual winners tend to progress down the sales funnel quickly while losers often stall. The reason? Buyers tend to know what they want from the beginning while non-buyers typically hem and haw and look for reasons to delay their “purchase.”
This means that if you have an opportunity lingering in a specific stage for more than 3x the average amount, you may want to tell the rep handling it to back off and focus their energy on a higher-probability opportunity.
No rep wants to give up on an opportunity, but the alternative – failing to focus on the highest-probability opportunities – is far worse.
Go look at the last 50 deals your sales team won. More than likely, the bulk of these deals fell in a fairly tight size range, as your sales team is designed to target prospects within a certain size range.
In terms of prioritization, this means that you should pay the most attention to opportunities that are closest to your Average Sales Price. This doesn’t mean you should completely ignore an opportunity that is, say, 5x your average, it just means that you should ensure your reps are investing enough time and energy into the opportunities that are closest to your typical customer profile.
So you should have your reps deemphasize especially old and large opportunities – what else? They should also deemphasize opportunities that have their close dates routinely pushed back or their expected values regularly lowered.
‘Happy ears’ may impel your reps to stick with these unstable opportunities, but analytical sales managers know better. Give your reps the best chance to hit their goals by having them identifying (and investing time in) the most likely winners in their pipelines.