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Measuring the selling cycle

When I talk to Product Managers about Win/Loss Analysis, one of the first steps I suggest is to analyze the sales funnel to find out where we are losing traction. (Normally I'm focused on places we're losing traction, but the same thinking applies to figure out what's working.) From there, we design the win/loss analysis to focus on the stage in the selling cycle where we are having the biggest problem.

The trouble is that funnel ratings are all over the map. There are so many problems ... where to start? Some of the most common problems I've seen are:

  • sales people don't use the CRM system reliably, so it can be very time consuming to determing where we are losing, or getting, traction
  • the ratings systems measure activity by the sales person, but don't measure activities that the customer performs. Customer activity is a meaningful indicator and should be the primary thing we measure.
  • the resolution of the ratings systems are too high or too low. If there is no rating between "we know their name" and "onsite presentation", then we really don't know where we're at with the top of the funnel. Similarly, if we have too many ratings, the sales people will stop using the ratings, or they will be used unreliably.

As I have said before, I like the CustomerCentric approach to selling. They outline a good way to measure activity throughout the funnel; to advance to a higher rating, the customer needs to agree to something or take action on something, and the CCS approach holds back valuable resources, information, and expertise from the prospect until they perform those actions.

The truth is though, it's more important that your company trains, uses, and enforces some kind of sales process. Just using one is more important than which one you use. And even if your sales people don't use a disciplined approach, you can use a framework like CCS to do your own querying for specific opportunities.

Later this week I'll describe a high-level framework that I like to rank progress through the selling and buying cycles.

Alan

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