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January 12, 2017
Reinventing Opportunity to Close: Are Your Sales Reps in a Rut? Is Your Forecast Flawed? Help is on the Way
Introducing the “Reinventing Opportunity to Close” blog series for sales leaders caught in a time loop.
“What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?”
If this quote from the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ sounds a little like your sales team’s opportunity-to-close (OTC) process, there are three things you should know:
- You’re not alone.
- Acknowledging you have a problem is the first step.
- Bill Murray can help.
Actually, these three things are universally true regardless of what ails you. But, for our purposes, the Groundhog Day analogy is particularly relevant to the state of sales today. It’s a new year, but before you know it February 2nd will roll around and snow enthusiasts and the winter weary alike will look to a 130-year-old rodent for revelations about spring.
Yes, Groundhog Day (the event) is still, oddly, a thing. And, because of the 1993 film of the same name, the phrase “Groundhog Day” is now synonymous with being caught in a time loop. And if your OTC process is stalled, you know exactly what that’s like.
You inexplicably live the same day over and over again. And your six-week forecast isn’t based on data.
In a series of posts over the next three weeks, we’ll explore the suboptimal processes and practices most sales orgs keep repeating that are holding each member of the sales team back. And we’ll show you how to break the cycle, breath new life into your OTC process, and start prioritizing the team’s time against the deals that matter most so you can start forecasting based on the facts instead of shadowy insights.
To get out of a rut, you need to first understand how you got in it.
Somewhere between identifying a solid prospect and getting them to sign, the end-to-end sales motion is stalling out.
Think of the OTC space as the rotary phone of the customer lifecycle process: it’s fraught with lots of manual, time-consuming steps, and plenty of disconnects. Bookended by smartly automated solutions, OTC is the impossibly weak link at the critical center of the process that’s dragging every member of your sales team down.
Perhaps nobody feels the rut more than reps. According to a CSO Insights/Accenture study, today’s sales rep spends only about a third of their time selling. They spend the rest of their day bogged down with repetitive administrative tasks, many of which they never even get to. In addition to actually selling, reps are expected to systematically track who they met and why they met with them, update their opportunity records, send emails, follow up on meeting action items, and more.
Imagine how frustrating it is to spend two thirds of your time checking boxes just so you can get to the part of your job you’re good at — the part that actually pays your salary. After a full day of data entry, the rep maps out a game plan for the next day with the best of intentions. He goes home, gets some rest, and starts the whole deeply flawed process over again.
Managers get caught in the time loop too. They turn to their CRM for insights and, on a good day, they’ll actually see their reps’ deal notes. Unfortunately, not everyone logs their activity and even when they do the data they enter is subjective.
As a result, managers are forced to guess which deals to spend time on and which reps to spend time with — all because they lack visibility. Nothing in their CRM tells them the probability of a deal closing based on history. Nothing alerts them to potential risk. So they get on the phone and end up making important decisions based on conversations, not data. Day in and day out, it’s the same cycle, the same ineffective process.
Meanwhile, execs are getting the same flawed data from their first-line managers, so they in turn struggle to accurately call their numbers quarter after quarter. It’s a constant battle to manage expectations — not just internally, but externally to shareholders and Wall Street. The only day an exec is truly confident in their numbers is on the last day of the quarter. That’s not forecasting, it’s old news. And it’s no way to run a sales organization.
It’s time to break the Groundhog Day cycle and resuscitate the OTC process.
In the coming weeks we’ll put a spotlight on how sales teams are starting to leverage new best practices and technologies that combine elements of predictive analytics, AI, and innovative user experience design to reinvent the OTC process and make it easier, more efficient, and ultimately more effective for the entire sales organization.
In the meantime, to learn more about the latest strategies top sales organizations are using to crush quotas and close more deals predictably, Join Mark Levinson of SiriusDecisions and Clari CEO Andy Byrne for an interactive Webinar on Thursday, January 26th, and download our definitive guide: From Chaos to Confidence: Reinventing the Opportunity-to-Close Process to Sell More — Faster.