How do you leverage data to inform strategy and measure success? Our KPI Builder tool can help guide you through the process of establishing a set of KPIs for your organization that is built around clean data and automation.
Through our work with leading companies across an array of industries, we’ve consistently seen the same trends time and again. It all starts with Annual Planning. For more on that topic, see this recent article from our blog. But even with a strong revenue plan, some organizations exceed industry benchmarks for growth while others only keep pace or potentially fall behind. Why does this happen? While the reasons can be complex, we almost always find that the most effective sales organizations are built around the following elements:
- A Standardized Framework to Assess Opportunities That Is Leveraged Consistently by All Members of the Sales Team
“When will this opportunity close? How likely is it that we’ll sign this deal?” A standardized framework will help you answer these questions using a common set of criteria. Build your framework by incorporating insights from your sales team to assign each opportunity to a stage in your sales funnel. Use qualitative feedback from your sellers to assess the likelihood of closing each deal. Then, balance those insights with quantitative milestones. Initial client meetings, deep-dive scoping sessions, pricing discussions, executive leadership meetings with the client, and immersion days can all be significant milestones to use. These tangible milestones will anchor your forecasts in reality and prevent overly optimistic sentiments from skewing your future view. This way, you’ll be able to plan accordingly.
To make the most of your framework, leverage historical data to validate your forecasting assumptions at a regular cadence. For example, if your model says that 35% of opportunities in the Requirements Gathering stage close within 45 days, but your historical metrics show that only 25% of these deals close in 60 days, you’ll know that it’s time to adjust your model accordingly.
- Strong Focus on Data Integrity
Your models will only be as strong as the data that you feed into them. For this reason, it’s critical to establish as many controls and automations around data integrity as is feasible. Build exception reports that flag potential data integrity issues on an ongoing basis. Also, make sure that you have mechanisms in place that hold team members accountable for data quality. Team members need to be empowered to do their jobs in the way they want to do them, but leadership needs sufficient rigor to forecast and manage the business effectively. Find the right balance for your organization.
- Planning That Is Centered Around a Relationship Map and an Account Plan
Build a Relationship Map that identifies key individuals across your clients and prospects. Note the type of relationship that your organization has with each and whether they are advocates, neutral parties, or adversaries. Then develop Account Plans that prioritize daily activity across these relationships to maximize your chance of winning new business. Reassess your approach weekly and adjust as needed.
- An Organization That Is Aligned Around a Key Set of Metrics Used to Assess the Business
How will your leadership team drive the business forward with a unified strategy if everyone uses different metrics to measure success? Establishing and consistently leveraging a shared set of KPIs arms your team with a common fact base. Leaders and individual contributors can then focus on driving desired outcomes without confusion or conflicting priorities. Teams execute against the metrics that you measure, so align on those metrics and then communicate them broadly. Automate as many KPIs as possible and standardize any manual reports to avoid the endless ad-hoc analysis that kills your team’s productivity. Remember to use our KPI Builder tool to help frame your thinking as you develop your key metrics.
In summary, to stand the best chance of beating industry benchmarks, make sure to give your sellers a standard framework for assessing opportunities. Align daily activity through the use of robust Account Plans and build a common dialogue within your organization through a shared set of KPIs. Finally, take every step that you can to ensure that your data is clean and that your reporting processes are as streamlined as possible.
By building these elements into your team, you’ll be setting up your organization for success. While they won’t guarantee your desired outcome alone, moving forward without them makes hitting your number a shot in the dark. And if you are preparing to use a Sales Summit to launch your new strategy for 2020, be sure to review these Summit best practices for maximum success.