One of the most difficult challenges that resonates with both individual contributors and managers at an organization is time management. How do you as an individual ensure your time and energy is focused on the right objectives that will ultimately lead to the achievement of both personal and company-wide KPIs? I think we can all agree that it’s very difficult, especially when you’re juggling a variety of different tasks that could be tactical or strategic.
Finding the right tasks to focus on can be a challenge though. After all, just think about the amount of activity that happens throughout a quarter.
However, one way to do this is to identify where there might be some potential sales pipeine risk early on. If we’re able to do that, then we’re spending our time on the deals that matter most, instead of turning our attention to deals that will be a walk in the park.
Over the years, I have encountered multiple organizations, small and large, that have had a difficult time focusing reps/managers on the correct deals so I wanted to share some sales metrics that you can begin to incorporate in your everyday 1:1s and forecast calls to assess the risk of an opportunity.
5 Key Metrics of At-Risk Opportunities
As someone who manages a large pipeline, you can find it difficult to gauge where the pipeline risk lies for deals in the current quarter — and especially for out-quarter opportunities. At a high-level, we can look at things like coverage and the quality of pipeline to determine overall risk to the business. However, those may not be a good indication of risk at the opportunity-level for managers and reps. This is where sales metrics come in.
Using key metrics to prioritize the right opportunities can:
- Help focus the field on the right opportunities that will move the needle
- Ensure risk against certain deals are flagged early by providing more visibility to reps/managers
- Allow for a more predictable forecast across the reps/managers book of business
- Provide visibility into if reps are engaged with the correct contacts via scoring
Fortunately, there are many different metrics and factors that you can incorporate in your everyday workflow, reports, and discussions to identify risk and get ahead of it early. Below are the 5 sales metrics that we see as most common and effective when searching through these opportunities:
- # of Total Pushes
- # of Days in Current Stage
- Activity Score / # of Activities & Engagements
- Opportunity Age
- CRM Score
Let’s dive into each one:
Key At-Risk Sales Metrics: # of Total Pushes
What is it: This metric is the number of times in which the close date of a deal has been pushed out, further and further down the quarter — or even slipping into the next quarter. These can be especially tough to identify if opportunities change hands or territories get reshuffled. However, it’s critical that these deals aren’t ignored.
What you can do: Identify and understand which deals have been pushed out a significant number of times and why. What are the steps you can take to prevent the can from getting kicked down the road again?
How Clari helps: Clari automatically tracks the total number of times a deal gets pushed out, and incorporates that factor into its AI-driven opportunity score, which uses historic data to assess the likelihood of the deal closing. In addition, Clari let’s you easily identify which deals slipped into next quarter so you can develop action plans to close them early on in the quarter.
Key At-Risk Sales Metrics: # of Days in Current Stage
What is it: This is the number of days that a deal has remained in the same sales stage. If an opportunity is stuck in Stage 2: Customer Validation for an extended period of time, that could be a sign of a non-committal prospect or a stumble in sales execution.
What you can do: Understand why the deal is stuck. Is this a stale opportunity that should be closed out or should you continue to push forward? If the deal is truly a worthwhile endeavor, create a sequence of events to unstick the deal — otherwise, it’s time to cut bait and focus your time elsewhere.
How Clari helps: Similar to the total number of times a deal gets pushed out, Clari also automatically tracks and surfaces the total number of days a deal is in a current stage. This is also incorporated into the AI-driven opportunity score. A custom widget in the Clari dashboard would also allow you flag all deals that have been in a certain stage for a period of time.
Key At-Risk Sales Metrics: # of Activities & Engagement
What is it: B2B selling has become more complex than ever before, with multiple touchpoints and buying groups that can sometimes number in the dozens. Looking at the level of activity and engagement between your rep and the prospect is a good indicator of the health of the deal. Quick responses and lots of activity is a good sign. The opposite is true for a lack of engagement — and a clear indicator this deal may be at risk.
What you can do: Analyze your deal data. If there is minimal engagement (or any engagement at all) it may be time to take a long, hard look at what you need to do to elicit a response. What are some creative sales plays you can run to get their attention? Is it time to find another internal champion? Alternatively, if there is lots of engagement, but the sales stage does not seem to be progressing, are you spinning your wheels fielding lots of activity without gaining much ground?
How Clari helps: Clari automatically captures sales activity data and customer engagement signals, including email, calendar, files sent and other sales enablement platforms. Using AI and automation, Clari attaches those signals to the proper opportunity so you can easily visualize the level of engagement within that opportunity.
Key At-Risk Sales Metrics: Opportunity Age
What is it: Opportunity age is the number of days in which the opportunity has remained open since the deal was created. Some sales cycles last longer than others, depending on your product, market and complexity of the deal. Knowing what your average sales cycle is a critical benchmark to spotting pipeline risk.
What you can do: If you don’t know your average sales cycle yet, find out. It will vary depending on territory, product and customers. For example, enterprise deals in emerging markets may take far longer than commercial deals in your core ICP. Next, identify deals that are currently showing an opportunity age much greater than an average deal should be. Understand the root cause of the prolonged sales cycle and determine next steps to either move the deal along or drop it.
How Clari helps: Build a report in Clari to easily recognize deals that might be stale or at risk that fall outside of an average sales cycle for the segment of business (enterprise vs. commercial vs. strategic). This allows you to recognize opportunities that might be overinflating pipeline or might not be realistic deals that the sales team can take action on at a glance.
Key At-Risk Sales Metrics: CRM Score
What is it: The CRM Score is an AI-driven numerical value in Clari representing how likely a deal is to close based on changes in the CRM data compared to past trends of won/loss deals using machine learning. It allows you to easily identify potential risk against deals based on past historicals and lists out top factors as why the score might be low/high (previous losses/win in account, current stage, prior slips, etc.).
What you can do: In your everyday workflow and during your 1:1s, use the CRM Score as a good barometer for the health of the deal. Couple that by looking at the level of engagement in activity data to get a good sense of which deals need your attention most.
How Clari helps: Sort deals by deal size or CRM score to see where time should be focused to mitigate sales pipeline risk. Adopt the 4-point deal inspection process to gauge the true health of a deal.
Key Points & Parting Thoughts
It’s important to understand not only which deals are at risk, but also why they are at risk in the first place and what is the plan of attack to improve mitigation at scale. The sales metrics above do a great job of highlighting these opportunities so reps and managers can prioritize their time, but it’s important to think about how these learnings can be applied to the entire organization?
- What were the playbooks that were implemented to de-risk those deals? Are they documented?
- How do we better enable the sales team to incorporate these sales metrics into their everyday workflow and forecast discussions?
- Are there gaps in the sales methodology that could help avoid putting deals at risk?
Creating/implementing solutions that will answer these questions (and more!) will ultimately help mitigate sales pipeline risk across the organization, but make the business more predictable when it comes to forecasting.
I hope you found this article helpful. I have also outlined some other related blogs. Feel free to share with your revenue teams!
Other Helpful Related Blogs:
- Improve 1:1 discussions between reps and managers using four-point deal inspection
- Better understand why forecasting matters and what it takes to forecast accurately