Leveraging your Sales Cycle to Improve Sales Stage Performance


When I’m trying to get a snapshot of what makes a sales team tick I always look at wins across business segments by Sales Cycle Age.

This information is very helpful when analyzing team forecasts and identifying where your team members are strong. When you apply a Sales Cycle Age to a forecast it brings a hard statistic that you use as a benchmark against a sales persons aged opportunities. As a Sales Manager it’s our job to review this information with each salesperson, demonstrating the fact and fiction of their forecast. When sales history is applied to a forecast we help salespeople remove much of their emotional connection to their forecast list helping them focus sales energy on deals within their typical win range.

I’ve spoken about the importance of segmenting business in the past. When the business is broken down into parts it becomes much easier to see where to market. When you apply Sales Cycle Age to segments you can see where you win fastest. When you can see your strengths we can see our positive selling patterns and apply training and coaching to bring up performance across the entire team.

A new wrinkle to sales metric analysis is Stage Age. Sales Cycle Age is far easier to measure because we are only looking at the time involved from creating a buying cycle to a win. However measuring Sales Stage Age requires salespeople to follow team rules and modify opportunities as client’s progress through the process. Everyone that has ever been in sales knows this is a tough one to sell; if you are able to motivate your sales team to measure Stage Age they will be helping themselves to improved performance.

Here is an example of a Sales Cycle broken down by Sales Stage:

  • Lead: 10 Days
  • Qualify: 10 Days
  • Working: 10 Days
  • Demo: 10 Days
  • Quote: 10 Days
  • Win: 0 Days

As you can see this is a 60 day Sale Cycle, each stage should take 10 days.

Once you apply Stage management techniques you’ll be able to see trouble deals before it’s too late. The easiest way to implement Stages management is to gain a team commitment to monitoring their Stages for 90 days. Managers should allow the sales team to create, as a group, to create the stages of their sales process. If they build it they will own it! To keep everyone interested, sales management must lead the way.

Managers are looked to for leadership and if your sales team feels something is unimportant to you than it becomes unimportant to them. My advice is to review the Stage management result each week and ask for team input on improving the process. At the end of the 90 day period you will start to see patterns develop along with a typical age history in your wins.

While we can learn a lot from our losses it really is easier to improve by focusing on your strengths. Analyzing wins will yield information that is far easier for salespeople to apply to their day to day life. Now that you have information on stage age you can create a measurement report that everyone can use to more proactively help prospects become customers.

If you are going to roll-out sales stages to you team start with a very simple list used on larger Segment 3+ opportunities. (In payroll sales Segment 3 is any deal with annualized payroll revenue over $4,000).

  • Qualifying
  • Presentation
  • Proposal
  • Negotiation
  • Win

I hope this information sheds some light on how you can use Sales Cycle and Stage Age to improve team performance.

Highlevel view of the two processes of payroll sales.

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