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Do You Have Zombies in Your Sales Pipeline?

Posted by Mike McKinnon on
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Do you have zombies in your pipeline? You know those opportunities that have stalled out and are shuffling along or just stopped moving altogether. They are, for all intents and purposes, lost deals but the sales rep has usually forgotten to close them out or has kept them open in a vain attempt to resurrect the deal.

As we all know, the accuracy of a pipeline is only as good as the analysis to determine if an opportunity truly belongs at a certain stage. So, how do we combat these “walking dead” in the sales and marketing pipeline? The problem can be attacked from two ends, reporting and management.

  1. One great way to measure pipeline speed is a Days Leads Outstanding (DLO) report. Take the average DLO for closed won deals and then compare it to the deals in a reps pipeline. A flag can be thrown when open deals DLO begins to reach the DLO for won deals. You could set up dashboards like the one below for each rep or territory: Pipeline with zombies
    In the example above, the pipeline of Rep 1 and Rep 4 would warrant further investigation.

  2. Having a consistent way to evaluate whether opportunities belong at a certain stage is also critical. Create definable and measurable criteria around each stage so there is not grey area between reps as to whether something belongs at qualify or investigate.  You can easily track this in the salesforce.com opportunity object by creating sections for each stage. If BANT is required to move an opportunity out of Qualify have fields for the rep to capture BANT on the opportunity record.
  3. Monthly pipeline reviews between the reps and their managers will also help flag Zombies. Using the DLO report above, managers can investigate deals that are approaching or have surpassed the Avg. DLO of closed won deals.

What are some of the ways you combat the walking dead in your organization? I would love to hear how other people are doing it.


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