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How to Effectively Grade Sales Pipelines

Sales Training Article: How to Effectively Grade Sales Pipelines

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company

sales tips for grading pipelinesLet’s lay the cards out on the table. Sellers that are underperforming aren’t much interested in accurately forecasting what will close in the next few months. Their primary concern is keeping sales managers off their backs by showing they have adequate activity to get at or near YTD against quota. There is an inherent conflict of agendas.

Rightfully, a great deal has been made about hearing “the voice of the customer.” Within CCS® this means achieving milestones based upon buyer actions rather than seller opinions. As an example, we define a Champion as a person within an organization that will provide access to the titles a seller must call on to sell, fund and implement an offering. We show a way to request access via an email. If and when the seller indicates the buyer has agreed to provide access, the manager can then grade the opportunity at the “Champion” milestone.

While sellers can misunderstand or lie about whether or not champions have agreed to provide access, this isn’t a one-time qualification. Over the coming weeks the seller should be able to debrief the calls made on the titles that were requested. By doing so the opportunity remains at the milestone. If after a reasonable period of time no access has been granted, the opportunity either slides to the previous milestone or is removed from the pipeline.

Ronald Reagan is given credit for coining the phrase: “Trust but verify.” Taking this approach with sellers in grading pipelines can allow much better visibility into qualifying opportunities.

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