One of the greatest aspects of my job is the ability to speak to sales leaders / CROs / VPs on a regular basis and learn what their sellers do well and where they need to improve. One common theme that often comes from these conversations is the need to improve forecasting accuracy and eliminate “slipped deals”.
There are many reasons why opportunities don’t close on time. With MEDDICC, you can spend 20- 30 minutes reviewing any opportunity, no matter the deal size, and you will identify red flags. Some reasons are indeed out of salespeople's control, however many reasons can be pinned on the rep for not knowing what needs to get done to close the deal and how long each step will take.
If you are nearing the end of a quarter, you may have several open opportunities on the forecast. Opportunities that are labeled must win, new logo, cats and dogs, over 100K, etc. Call it what you want, but will it close or slip into the next quarter? At PTC in 1997, I learned in new hire training that slipped deals never close.
I often use a concept called “Backwards Planning” to minimize these slipped deals.
Backwards Planning is process that enables a seller to start at the desired result (closed opportunity) and incrementally plan each step of the successful achievement, including all resource requirements and outcomes, back to the present.
Backwards Planning is a team effort, both internally and with your customer. There are items you will need to do (demo, reference, contract, SOW, etc.) and there needs to be items for the customer to do (confirm budget, call the reference, review, modify and approve the contract, participate in demo, internal meetings, etc.). The idea is to build out a timeline with each item defined in an order that gets you to close by end of the quarter.
Questions to consider:
Is a demo necessary to close? If so, who needs to participate from the client? How many days will that take to confirm schedules?
Does the client's legal team see this opportunity as urgent? How long will it take for them to turn around the contract with mark-ups and edits?
When is the meeting with the Economic Buyer set? What day is your Champion going to present the ROI / Business Case to the CFO?
What reference will you use? Is that person open for a call this week or only part of next week? Who is calling that person?
What could go wrong? Any key players out a few days for graduations, weddings, PTO, early July 4th vacation?
Here is a template to reference:
This exercise is good for you to do however better with the Champion who can help push things along internally. Many sellers try to take the burden all on their own. Just remember if your client or prospect is not pushing this along harder for you internally, chances of this closing is wishful thinking.
Work hard and Work smart. Last question - is the account your trying to close on your competitors forecast too?