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How to Evaluate the Effectiveness and the Efficiency of your Sales Opportunity Management Process
Sales opportunity refers to a process of identifying new revenue opportunities, in the form of existing or qualified potential buyers, that in some stage of your sales pipeline have indicated an interest in your product. In B2B, sales opportunity management is essentially managing the potential buyers through the sales process roadmap and making sure that opportunities are aligned with your sales process and are in fact moving to the next level.
Benefits of Sales Opportunity Management:
- Provides insight into the effectiveness and efficiency of marketing and sales efforts.
- Developing, implementing, and optimizing opportunity nurturing programs by sales and marketing teams.
- Sales can work out their company’s competitive strengths.
- Identifying buyers’ key-players in decision making.
- Determining when an opportunity is sales-ready.
- Gives sales teams time to become more familiar with the buyer’s business, needs, and buying obstacles.
- Sales methods can be tailored to buyer’s business needs.
In today’s highly competitive B2B market, the sales process has become more challenging. A sell is no longer just about what you sell, but the concept of “how you sell” has gained more dominance in the sales cycle.
Nurturing leads is an important part of any sales opportunity management process. During this period, your sales team needs to identify the qualified buyer, their stakeholders and decision makers, their buying process, their needs and objectives, their time frame, and the competitive landscapes. If at any time during the nurturing process a lead becomes cold, the entire organization needs to have a framework to see where things went wrong. If it’s not working or not producing the ultimate outcome, what can be done to improve the lead nurturing procedure of their company?
The most common method of measuring a program’s efficiency and effectiveness is the use of a program evaluation.
A sales opportunity management evaluation is necessary for any organization that has a sales team or sells through a network of distributors and resellers.
What Is a Program Evaluation:
Program evaluation is a very structured method of collecting, analyzing, and using data to help set realistic program goals and design effective program strategies.
The information below is merely a sales opportunity management evaluation guideline:
The primary users of an evaluation are the specific individuals or teams who are in a position to decide and intend to do something with the results. In addition, people or teams involved in the sales operations and those affected by your sales opportunity management are stakeholders that need to be engaged in your evaluation.
- Individuals and/or teams affected by the program
- Individuals and/or teams involved in program operations
- Individuals and/or teams who will use evaluation results
Benefits of Identifying Stakeholders:
- Investigating each team player’s priorities gives you the chance to develop plans for solving potential roadblocks.
- By documenting each key-players role, you reduce errors and speed-up the process.
- Depending on their role, they can help before an evaluation is conducted, while it is being conducted, and after the results are collected and ready for use.
- Depending on their role, they can ensure the right evaluation questions are identified.
- Understanding who are the final decision makers and how the final approval groups contribute to the final result can help improves your efficiency.
- Identifying and including those who participate in the program and are affected by the program or its evaluation, helps the evaluation results to be more proper and accurate.
Example of stakeholders assessment plan:
|Who are the evaluation stakeholders?||What are the stakeholders’ roles in the evaluation?||What are they looking to learn from evaluation?||What actions need to be taken to keep stakeholders involved in the evaluation process?|
|Sales management||Review the plan||How to improve the sales program||Include them in writing the program’s description|
|Sales department||Assist in collecting data||Determine what the effects of the sales program||Have them suggest or choose questions for the evaluation|
|CEO, CFO, CMO||Assist in interpreting the evaluation results||Assess needs and wants of those involved in the sales process||Have them involved in publishing the results|
Create a Logic Model
This stage is basically a comprehensive description of your sales program. Logic models make a visual and clear outline for all involved in the evaluation process to move in the same direction with common points of reference that ultimately brings about favorable results. Having a logic model during your sales opportunity management evaluation adds discipline and accountability to your sales team. Although logic models differ for each situation, they all share the same groundwork: how changes happen.
A logic model is valuable in supporting:
- Program planning
- Program implementation
- Program monitoring
- Program evaluation
Benefits of Creating a Logic Model:
- Creates a clear and manageable path for all who contribute to sales
- Improves communication between team members from different branches of your company
- Provides insight into your sales team performance
- Helps in determining if you have the tools and capabilities for carrying out the sales program
- Problematic areas of the program are identified
- Helps in prioritizing and allocating resource
- Assist in setting competitive yet realistic goals
Example of a logic plan/program description:
|What is contributed to the program?||What will the program and its staff actually do?||What are the program’s intended outcomes?|
|What resources are available to support the program?||What specific activities are planned to reach the program’s outcomes?||Who are we trying to reach? Who will participate in,
influenced by, the program?
|What changes do you expect once short-term outcomes have been achieved?||What significant benefit will result from having this program in the long-term?|
|Money||Meetings||Sales team||Motivation||Decision making||Financial|
Developing an Evaluation Plan
An evaluation plan is an agreed upon document between all parties stating the essential milestones that all need to reach in order to achieve an agreement.
The best type of evaluation for when you want to determine the effectiveness of your sales opportunity procedure is a process evaluation. This type of evaluation helps distinguish whether the causes of poor results were due to program performance or due to the inability of the program to reach the pre-set standard for implementation.
Steps for Developing an Evaluation Plan:
- Provide information about stakeholders needs
- Your evaluation questions
- Design your evaluation
An evaluation plan provides a framework for all parties on the necessary actions, scopes of responsibilities for each member involved, and the time frame for reaching an agreeable outcome.
An evaluation plan of your sales opportunity management process should consist of the following elements:
A valuable evaluation is tailored to your sales program and adds to your existing evaluation knowledge and resources.
Benefits of Evaluation Plan:
- Ensures that all parties involved are clear on all events and milestones
- Provides all parties a mutual progress plan
- Helps in monitoring everyone’s progress toward objectives more effectively and efficiently
- Helps in designing objectives that are more attainable and measurable
- Assists in identifying the differences between the sales program used and the “ideal program”
A critical evaluation of your sales program should be a never-ending task. As you collect and analyze data about the activities, attributes, and outcomes of your sales program, you are in essence contributing to the improvement of the program.
Items to Include in an Evaluation Plan:
- An agreement on the scope of the problem
- An agreement to use the milestones documented in the evaluation plan rough draft
- An agreement on the objectives your solution will achieve
- An agreement on the key players and decision makers
- A rough draft of value proposition
- A rough draft of the implementation plan
- A rough draft of terms and condition
All items listed above should have a start and end date in addition to the party(s) responsible for each action.
Once you have pinpointed the stakeholders and prepared your evaluation questions you can decide on the most logical methods for collecting data. Discretion must be used in choosing the methods for collecting your data in order to assure accurate, credible and useful information.
Your data collection process should be closely tied to your sales logic model. Pay attention to the elements of your logic model such as available resources, activities that have taken place, the number of your outputs, and the accomplished outcomes.
To measure the effectiveness of your opportunity management program steps must be taken to collect data during and after your program’s implementation.
Data Gathering Consideration:
- Indicators: measurable or observable elements that can serve as markers of your sales opportunity performance
- Methods of data collection: qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods
- Quality: producing data that are reliable, valid, and informative
- Quantity: the amount of data to collect during the evaluation
- Logistics: methods, timing, and framework for gathering and handling data
Benefits of Collecting Evaluation Data:
- Can help to proactively identify, verify, and address issues
- Measure your progress and success
- Helps with securing the support of key decision-makers
- Discover unexpected influences
- Shed light on correlations between different variables that may alter the results of your evaluation
- Helps in developing better future programs
Example of evaluation questions and related data collection methods:
|Evaluation Questions||Data Collection Method||Source of Data|
|Questions that focus on hard numbers
Questions that help identify statistical relationships
| Questions that focus on opinions, attitudes, and beliefs
Questions that help identify patterns, themes, and features
It’s important to note that the method you use is based on the evaluation questions you want to be answered. Mixed methods, where a combination of both qualitative and quantitative methods within a single research framework are used, are commonly practiced in situations where you are relying on more than one method of data gathering to provide an adequate program assessment.
Analyze and Clarify Data
What is your data telling you about your sales opportunity management process?
The next step is to categorize, analyze the data, making claims about the program based on analyzing your data, and justifying your claims by comparing your findings against stakeholder goals.
To add credibility to your evaluation results as well as the recommendations that follow consider using multiple sources for gathering, analyzing, and interpreting your data.
Benefits of Analyzing Evaluation Data:
- Offers information on where everyone stands in regards to the final objective
- Can help to point out the positive or negative actions in your sales process
- The results assist in making business recommendations to improve your program
- When compared to other available data you are able to identify patterns and trends in your sales process
- Helps to determine the limitations of your sales process
- Assists stakeholders in making a final decision
It’s important to note that interpretations of your data are based on the information and perspectives that stakeholders bring to the evaluation.
Example of collecting data for your evaluation:
|Evaluation Questions||Indicators||Data Source||Data Collection Method and Source||People/Team Responsible||Timeline|
|A few questions that you intend to answer through this evaluation||Measurable or observable elements that can serve as markers of your program’s performance||Individuals, teams, or basis that will you collect data from||Methods that you plan to use to collect or acquire the data||Roles and responsibilities of the evaluation team members||The time period and regularity in which you need to collect the data to provide information about trends for reporting and review.|
Use and Share Findings
Your recommendations should be presented as an actionable item accompanied by evidence you have discovered in analyzing your data. The most prominent way to make sure your findings are effective is to share the information from analyzing your data with the appropriate people in the most logical format. Customize the information for stakeholders and decision-makers in terms of detail, technical complexity, and their area of expertise.
Items to Think About:
- The recommendations
- The necessary actions based on recommendations
- People/teams to share evaluation findings with
- Categorizing your findings for different stakeholder groups
- Timely recommendations sharing for maximum effect
Benefits of Sharing your Findings:
- Stakeholders tend to get involved when formulating recommendations
- Identifying the factors or processes – negative and positive – that resulted in changes in your sales process
- Diagnosing actions or events that slow down the pace of sale
- Understanding how the actions or events above slow down sale and how to address them
- Discovering methods to accelerate results
- Helps in evaluating and prioritizing various analytics initiatives
Example of a communication plan for sharing the results of your evaluation:
|List of Stakeholders||Information to Share||Purpose for Sharing||Methods of Sharing||When to Share|
|CEO, CFO, CMO||Progress towards improving sales opportunity management||To layout a strategic plan||Reports, PowerPoint presentation||Before and during your meeting with stakeholders|
Whether your evaluation was conducted to show the effectiveness of your opportunity management program, help improve the program or establish accountability, the stakeholders must agree that the conclusion of your evaluation is justified.
Sales program and opportunity evaluation should be an integral part of your planning and management. Afterall, who doesn’t want to strengthen the quality of their sales opportunity management programs and improve outcomes?
The diagram below is an outline summary to guide you through your evaluation: