Your sales rep thinks that a prospect is committed to buy. But is that really the case?

Typically, assigning a sales opportunity to a “commit” stage means that your sales rep has verbal confirmation that a deal will close. The problem is, not all reps use the same criteria when forecasting what will make it across the finish line this quarter. And, if you’re not speaking the same language, it can lead to end of quarter surprises. According to research from SiriusDecisions, just 21% of companies come within 10% of their forecasts which is an indicator that end of quarter surprises are the norm vs. the exception.

In order to build more confidence in your team’s ability to deliver against its commits, take a look at the variance between where your sales teams expect to end up and where their numbers actually are at the end of the quarter. You’ll find that by identifying the problem spots, you’ll be able to better define what you’re looking for in a “commit” — and can teach your sales reps to speak your language.

Track Each Rep’s Forecasting Accuracy

In order to see why your numbers may be going off the rails, drill down at a granular level to view how each individual sales rep is categorizing her opportunities, particularly when viewed in relation to other reps’ forecasts. Does one rep have a habit of categorizing their deals in pipe as “hard commit” three weeks into the quarter, when everyone else is holding on making that call until the six week mark?

On the flip side, you may notice that a sales rep has a habit of sandbagging a bit on their commits, then heroically winning deals in the final hours of the quarter that weren’t on your radar a few weeks ago.

Define Your “Commit” Criteria for Your Entire Sales Organization

In order to get all your reps on the same page, you’ll need to clearly define what a “commit” means to you. Here are a few questions you should be asking about existing pipeline conversations before moving them to a “commit” stage:

- Does your primary contact or champion have the authority to make the purchase decision?

- If not, has your contact already gotten signoff from that person?

- Has the contact confirmed a timeline for getting started?

- Does the contact understand the purchase process?

- Does the prospect organization have a compelling reason to act now?

Ultimately, the key to more consistently hitting your commits as a sales organization is ensuring that your sales reps are doing the critical upfront discovery work to gain confidence that their prospects not only want to buy from them; they have the budget and the authority to make a buying decision, and have a compelling reason to close the deal within the quarter. If all of these criteria are met, a “commit” is likely a safe bet.

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