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Managing Pipeline in Challenging Times

By Katie Schuele on February, 24 2020

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Katie Schuele

Katie is the Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer at Boostr. As a sales and ops leader, she tracks movements in sales and operations and thrives off of strategy, sweat, and execution. She resides in Brooklyn with her family.

Everyone man their battle stations! Coronavirus is global, and it’s already affecting markets and behavior. So what does this mean for your business? We anticipate 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 in 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 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 Some 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 affect 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 to consider: 

  • Has meeting volume (even if it’s a hangout/zoom) decreased?  
  • Has the number of deals 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 product?

 

Even better, look at trends in metrics year-over-year or quarter-over-quarter. In the graph below I can see that this quarter (TQ) in the 111th week there has been 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 effects 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. 

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