Managing Pipeline Through Challenging Times

March 19, 2020
BlogKatie Schuele

Everyone man their battle stations! Coronavirus is global and it’s already impacting markets and behavior. So what does this mean for your business? We anticipate that certain categories will slow spending. For instance, if there’s no movie premiere, there’s no marketing budget. We can already see travel taking a hit while some consumer products are experiencing sales like never before (toilet paper and cleaning products). If more people are home, how will they be spending  their time and ultimately their impressions? A downturn to the economy is scary, but is there a silver lining?

Over the past week, I’ve been working with clients to prepare data that provides the most visibility to their business. I’ve certainly learned a lot but there are a few key points that stand out: 

1. Understand how to use complete and accurate pipeline data that you trust. 

2. Evaluate leading indicators as alerts and then identify patterns. 

3. Insights from hard data are great, but don’t forget the story in the soft data.  

If you’re a boostr user, congratulations! Everything is there for you. 

What are leading vs. lagging indicators?

Lagging indicators already happened. For instance, revenue is a lagging indicator. It’s king, but by the time you’re looking at it, it is what it is. Leading indicators, on the other hand, provide insight to things that can impact change. Some great leading indicators:

- New deals created (using the created date)

- Number of meetings

- Wins and losses

- Win value (dollar amount of what closed)

- Days spent at each stage

- Change to start dates 

Imagine looking at these indicators plotted week over week since the beginning of the Coronavirus. Here are a few indicators you might want to consider: 

- Has meeting volume (even if it’s a hangout/zoom) decreased?  

- Has the number of deals moving to won dropped? 

- Are deals staying at their current sales stage longer? 

- What does this look like if you split this data by account category or by product?

Even better would be to look at trends in metrics year over year or quarter over quarter. In the graph below, I can see this quarter (TQ) in the 111th week of the quarter, there is a decline in new deals. It’s still higher than last year, but the key takeaway is that last year was more steady and predictable while this year is more volatile. What if you did this same analysis with revenue and weighted pipeline? How much did you have going into Q2 last year versus this year. What about last quarter?

Don’t forget the human side

Hard data gets the most press because it’s easy to digest and easy to manage. If you forecast accurately you can see if your revenue from Q1 has shifted to Q2, but what about the story from the people who are out there every day? What are they hearing? What’s the sentiment that will help you judge for yourself how long and deep reaching the impacts will be? You can’t call up every seller and ask them what they’re hearing and you can’t be at every meeting.  Besides that, every account you have is different, with a different culture. Dove might be in the same category as Fritos, but chances are they view the strategy to market in a crisis differently.  

My best advice is to immediately create the space for feedback related to the Coronavirus and ask your team to log the related meeting notes and emails. An activity type created for Coronavirus feedback can be linked to accounts or deals. This will give you visibility into client concerns and if your reps have been proactive in these discussions. 

Now is the time to take action. Now is the time to get your house in order. Make use of your data to be prepared. Boostr can help - contact us for a demo today.