At the end of Q2 your pipeline was healthy.  You were on pace to hit your goals.  Somehow the pipeline collapsed.   By the end of the year 40% of your reps hadn’t made quota.  So how were your forecasts so far off?  As a Sales Operations leader, you use the pipeline to build budget and allocate resources. key to success1


Chances are, poor adoption of your sales process played a part.  Last year, companies made significant investments in training.  The trend looks to continue this year.  During onboarding, new hires were walked through the sales process.  They all received a copy of the sales playbook. Now, that playbook is collecting dust on the rep’s shelf.  Download the Guide for Creating an Adoptable Sales Process.  It is intended to create a relevant sales process.  One that will be seen as valuable. 


The problem with a typical Sales Process is it is not buyer focused.  In these cases, organizations focus on the activities of their reps.  It’s a math equation.  If they make this many calls and set that many appointments, they’ll win. This has been the method of top sales forces for decades.  It has worked.  Until recently.  The process no longer helps your reps.  It’s obsolete and no longer is driving revenue.   Here’s a great example:


Sales Process Objectives: “Enter 10 new opportunities in the CRM every month.  Have a pipeline with 5X your quota.  Advance 5 opportunities to the quoting stage.  Close 30% of your opportunities. 


Sales Rep Activities: “Enter the last 10 calls you’ve made, regardless of the contact’s buying authority.  Overestimate potential deal size to grow your pipeline.   Generate enough quotes to keep the boss off my back.  Rely on my killer instinct to close business.  If I miss, call in a few favors with my customers.  Get a few change orders and hit my number.”


This typical scenario brings 3 results:


  1. Lower win rate on new opportunities
  2. Longer sales cycle on new opportunities as the focus shifts to easy wins
  3. Smaller average deal size as reps focus on smaller opportunities


This is a recipe for forecast inaccuracy.  If the process is not followed, it cannot be properly analyzed.  How can you create a system that your team will actually follow?


  • Create a buying centered sales process: Customer surveys and interviews are helpful here.  Find out what parts of the sales process they find valuable.  Identify how they prefer to communicate.  Ask where they go for information and who helps them make the decisions.      
  • Align the sales process to the buying process.  Rework the Sales Process.  Take out the steps the customer doesn’t find valuable.  Add in the tools that help them make a buying decision.
  • Automate the sales process:  Make the sales tools and process are mobile friendly.  Reps need to be able to pull them up quickly in the field.  The process must be able to move as quickly as the reps and buyers.


An adopted sales process is a relevant sales process.  An adopted sales process leads to forecast accuracy.  An adopted sales process allows a sales team to focus on its challenges.  Ensure that your sales organization has a sales process worth following.


Download the Guide for Creating an Adoptable Sales Process.



John Kearney

Helps clients adopt emerging best practices to help them make their number.

John has been with SBI since 2011. He has worked with executives in Executive Education, Media, Telco, IT Services, and others. Under his leadership, organizations have successfully grown revenue and improved Sales and Marketing Effectiveness. With a focus on aligning strategies across functions, John has delivered strategic solutions that are actionable and executable. Prior to SBI, John earned his MBA from the University of Notre Dame.


Read full bio >