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    Entries in pipeline (1)

    Friday
    Nov022012

    Forecast, Upside, Pipeline and Staying on Offense

    I ended last week with a piece titled Playing Offense on Social Media, a story about how sometimes being aggressive, even snarky, but essentially leaning forward and playing offense in social media can be a good strategy for organizations, (and even individuals), that are active in social media and social networks.

    To continue the 'offense' theme, I want to share another similar take, this one from the world of sales, (and even if you are not 'in' sales, let's face it, we are all selling something), titled 'Play Offense When Predicting Revenue', from the Feld Thoughts sales blog.  

    In the piece, Brad Feld shares a simple way to change the way sales managers think about their sales pipeline, essentially instead of assigning a generic 'probable close rate' to every deal in the pipeline, e.g., 'We have 10 active deals, we think 75% will close this quarter', Feld recommends sales teams divide the pipeline into three buckets as follows:

    Forecast - These are the deals we BELIEVE (in CAPS), will close this quarter. We are committed to them, and any deal in this group that does not close, will be subject to a detailed review and post-mortem

    Upside - These are deals that MIGHT close this quarter. We are working them, but can't commit to a close this quarter.

    Pipeline - These are deals that WILL NOT close this quarter, but are being worked. These should move into the Upside or Forecast buckets soon, or will fall out as lost opportunities.

    According to Feld, the positioning of deals into these discrete categories, most particularly the 'committed' portion of the forecast bucket, creates more accountability in the organization, and provides a better mechanism for inderstanding the sales process, the customer decision cycle, and the skill and capability of the sales team.

    Then the sales team and managers revisit this list each week. Sometimes deals  fall out of Forecast into Upside based on new information. Last week you thought there was a 100% it was going to close (forecast), now you no longer have certainty but there's still a chance. And, if there's no way it'll close this quarter, it should go in Pipeline.

    This discrete planning helps allocation your efforts - most of your short term energy should be on Forecast deals, some of your short and some of your long term energy on Upside deals, and the balance of your long term energy on the Pipeline.

    I kind of dig it, simple, keeps the team focused, and as we like to say around here, keeps you playing offense, not just sitting back and wiating for (hopefully) good things to happen.

    Forecast, Upside, Pipeline - what other parts of your business could benefit from this simple breakdown?

    Have a Great Weekend!