Enable the debate

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All of us are smarter than any of us.” — Dr. Douglas Merrill, former CIO, Google

In speaking with my sales manager colleagues and friends, when it comes to their weekly forecast calls both down the chain (with reps) and up (with sales execs), I’ve found a few common themes, including:

  • You can’t do a sales forecast in a vacuum,
  • You have to look for what’s possible,
  • You have to sift through all the activities to understand what actions will have the most impact in moving a prospect forward,
  • Follow-through (on requests and promises) is key.

Most account review conversations turn into a (more or less) constructive debate: “have you shown them this?,” “have you asked for that?,” “how can we solve this issue?,” and so on.  The goal is to make sure there’s a value match between your goods & services and their business objectives (equal to or greater than your proposal price).  And that is a multi-party conversation among client, rep, manager, exec, partner, technical folks…anyone that can help make the value connection and bring something to the debate.

One technology to help keep track of that debate, and help steer it in the right direction, is a model of the deal.  This model would show firstly how things have been progressing (expected close dates, forecasted amounts, sales stages, etc.) over time, and also the impact that winning or losing (or delaying) the deal would have on:

  • This quarter’s numbers (forecasted bookings vs. plan) for the region and the company,
  • Partner pipeline (if appropriate), and
  • The reps own performance (vs. coverage & quota)

So in order to enable the “deal debate,” all the concerned parties would want to share that deal model, in context of the region, partner, and company plan.  And they’d want to share it in two ways:

  • as a consumer (getting visibility to the history, the current state, and the potential impact, and
  • as a contributor (inputting the variables that drive the “what-if” part of the model: potential new close dates, potential discounts & deal amounts, potential sales stages, etc.)

Of course you’d want that as easy to use a possible, always at your fingertips, and accessible by all the concerned parties.

I’m curious, how do you do that now?

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