How Successful Sales Managers Use Data to Get Ready

Successful sales managers start preparing for the following year in Q4.

They invest the time to look at key sales reports and sales metrics. They look at their existing annual revenue performance with respect to original goals to glean lessons for the next year. They also examined the territories and their teams to see if they have enough resources to hit next year’s sales targets. In addition, they looked at ways to improve sales training. Finally, they were putting finishing touches on the next year’s sales plan. And for every plan, they prep for their next year’s Sales Kickoff meeting.

To go through this planning process they did some specific sales analyses to get ready for next year:

1. Where in our sales process do we lose opportunities and why?

Successful sales managers will look at their Sales Funnel over the course of the existing year and especially Q4 to see their conversions from various opportunity stages out to winning deals. They study the drop-offs from stage to stage to understand how the process can be improved for next year.

2. Where do deals get stalled?

They also look at the Sales Cycle to evaluate how they can improve their pipeline velocity for next year. They pay attention to where deals get stalled (relative to the theoretical durations) and they will slice this information by sales rep whom they can coach directly to make improvements.

3. What is our Win-Loss?

Successful sales managers will analyze how many opportunities were won vs. lost in the existing year and will look at it over time to assess if the trend in won/lost is improving. They seek to understand the process and customers better. Is the win/loss rate improving and when was it best?  Have we tackled the most common reasons for losses? Answering these questions can get them ready to hit the ground running and strengthen the sales plan for next year.

4. What does our pipeline look like as we enter January?

Successful sales managers look at the pipeline changes over time and see how it trends in December to January.  Successful sales managers want to have a clear idea of how big the pipeline is after the traditional pipeline drain happens in December.  They want to understand what’s in the plan to increase this pipeline to ensure that January and February won’t be soft.

5. Which campaigns should we fuel now?

Successful sales managers look at the ROI for each of their campaigns during the second half of December to study the ones that have impacted revenue most. Now they know which ones to fuel immediately to help drive revenue in Q1. If they see that Lead to Opportunity conversion is higher in a specific campaign then they can allocate more resources to it in January.

In the same vein, successful managers will also want to know where the leads come from.  It’s critical for all sales managers to plan for lead flow ahead of January. To do this, they review their Leads Dashboard and evaluate lead flow by source. At that point, they learn which lead sources to invest in ASAP so as to get ready for Q1.