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FIVE TIPS TO DRAMATICALLY IMPROVE PIPELINE MANAGEMENT AND OVERALL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Inconsistent sales processes. Inaccessibility to the right information. Low sales productivity. Inaccurate sales forecasts. These are a few of the many symptoms of poor pipeline management, which combined can place a company at significant operational risk. On the other hand, maximizing pipeline efficiency and effectiveness can be a key part of your organizations arsenal as you seek to accelerate sales velocity and improve overall business performance. With 12-plus years of experience successfully deploying more than 4.6 million live CRM users, Oracle has documented five best practices for dramatically improving pipeline management and, in turn, increasing sales velocity.
1. HAVE A CLEARLY DEFINED SALES METHODOLOGYOrganizations require a

common framework and language for assessing opportunities. For example, qualified opportunity must have a consistent meaning across your companys sales territories. Sales forecasting accuracy is compromised without this consistency. By standardizing on a CRM application like Oracles Siebel CRM On Demand, organizations can ensure their sales representatives are consistent in the language that is used and the type of data collected.
2. CAPTURE QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE INFORMATION ABOUT EACH OPPORTUNITYCapturing opportunity information on spreadsheets is still a widespread practice. The challenge with this tactic is twofold: Spreadsheets are unable to effectively track qualitative information, and the lack of a centralized data repository results in a timeconsuming roll-up process that compromises data accuracy and results in delayed responses to time-sensitive problems. Leading CRM applications enable sales representatives to easily capture and analyze the critical quantitative and qualitative data, based on a standardized system, which is needed to accurately diagnose issues. This allows for much more accurate data analysis. 3. FOCUS ON PERFORMANCE AND EFFECTIVENESS METRICSWhile virtually

metrics only capture after-the-fact insight into the results of the sales period. In contrast, effectiveness metrics like number of customers deferring purchases, average length of sales cycle, and product line win rate provide critical information during the sales period, which allows companies to predict results and quickly execute strategic actions to improve performance.
4. DEVELOP FORECASTS FROM MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVESMost organizations only rely

current opportunities are at sales stage levels that do not support a timely sale. And by analyzing historical data, the historical results assessment could reveal that at this point in the quarter the companys forecasts have been typically 20 percent above attainment. Taking all three of these perspectives into account, management would realize the company is unlikely to meet its original forecast unless it takes immediate corrective action. Oracles Siebel CRM On Demand supports this triangulated forecasting process.
5. TRANSLATE FORECASTS INTO ACTION

every organization focuses on performance metrics like sales by region or revenue per product, capturing and analyzing effectiveness metrics is also critical because performance

on a single perspective from sales when building their forecasts. As a result, they fail to recognize the broader issues and historical context that can add significant clarity to sales forecasts. Instead, companies should assess forecasts from three perspectives: the sales perspective, a pipeline perspective, and historical results. Oracle refers to this approach as triangulated forecasting. The sales perspective is created by asking sales representatives to submit individual forecasts based on the specific opportunities in their pipeline. Analyzing the number of opportunities in each stage of the pipeline creates the pipeline perspective. And analyzing current pipeline data against historical trends creates the historical results perspective. This triangulated approach provides a set of checks and balances that enables management to quickly identify potential problems. For example, a companys sales assessment could indicate the organization is on track to meet its quarterly revenue number. However, the pipeline assessment could show that 80 percent of all

The most effective organizations use forecasts to improve real-time decision making. How? For example, once a potential shortfall is detected, management can determine whether the underlying cause is related to weak demand, poor sales execution, or increased competitor activity. In addition, management can pinpoint whether the shortfall is more prominent in specific sales regions, among individual product lines, and/or customer segments. The company can then develop targeted action plans with specific owners and clear time lines. Managing the sales pipeline is one of the greatest challenges facing organizations today. By implementing these best practices, companies can significantly improve pipeline management, dramatically reduce end-of-quarter surprises, and accelerate sales velocity. I
Oracle is the #1 global CRM provider, with the widest range of on-premise, privately managed, and shared on-demand applicationsall backed by single-vendor hosting and management capabilities, plus the domain expertise that comes with deploying more than 4.6 million live CRM users.