On Dec 8, I attended Bowery Capital’s excellent Sales Summit 2016. Larry D’Angelo, SVP of Sales at LogMeIn, kicked things off by sharing his best practices for B2B sales forecasting.
The biggest takeaway: Ask prospects directly if you are winning. “If no one says you are winning, then you are losing”
Here are my detailed notes on his process:
- Train managers first then AEs on a standard, best-practice questioning methodology (QM) for pipeline management
- Qualify: BANT + process + competition + scope
- B: Do they have the budget? Is it approved?
- A: Who has to say yes to this purchase? Who can say no?
- N: Did the customer say we can meet their needs? Do they want to buy our product?
- T: Whey will they buy? Why? What compelling event did you create? What if they do nothing – what bad thing happens?
- Process: What are the approval, buying, and legal processes? (they are different)
- Competition: Is the customer looking at other solutions? If so, where do you stand?
- Analyze: Evaluation criteria/process; Decision-making process; reconfirm BANT+C (checkbox)
- Evaluate: Initial pricing sent; Prospect confirmed we are winning (checkbox; “Help me understand which way you are leaning?”); legal & purchasing process; evaluation outcomes
- Negotiation: negotiation & price; hurdles to close?
- Sale Pending: details & references; timelines for signature and payment; use cases
- Embed pipeline management into CRM opportunities (instead of having AEs select stages and/or probabilities)
- Most, if not all, fields should be textboxes for notes rather than checkboxes
- Base on client actions (not AE actions) and on information shared by prospect (not AE opinion)
- Keep as simple as possible; fields exist for the benefit of AEs to close deals, not solely for management inspection
- “The Science”: Algorithmically determine probabilities based on pipeline management field completion of previously won & lost deals
- “The Art”: Build the forecast deal by deal
- Do not just rely on the aggregate weighted pipeline
- Managers should start by asking: (a) Why should the prospect buy anything? (b) Why should they buy now? What bad thing will happen if they don’t take action? (c) Why should they buy our product? Which of our key differentiators has the prospect locked on to?
- Then ask, “Are we winning, losing, or are you unsure?”
- If the answer is anything other than winning, then the deal should not be included in the forecast for the quarter
One later speaker, Steve Hirschfeld of Medidata, added a good additional point on improving forecast outcomes: make introductions between your execs and the prospects execs.
Finally, (unrelated to forecasting), Kristen Habacht of Trello stressed the following:
- Specialize – SDRs –> hunters + solutions engineers –> account managers + CSMs
- Build your sales operations function early
- When hiring, audition candidates by having them pitch your product to you (give them a deck to prep with a couple days in advance; however, Kristen has found that the best hires do not “pitch” using a deck)
- Create a clear progression/promotion path for people with an expected timeframe