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Best Practices for Managing a Sales Team

By December 5, 2022August 1st, 2023No Comments

Managing a sales team is hard. There, we said it. It’s not easy to stay on top of all leads, accounts and opportunities, while making sure your team is enabled to consistently meet quota targets. In fact, in a recent survey, the majority of respondents said that Sales is the hardest team to manage.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to manage your sales team like a pro with the help of Discern. From pipeline and forecasting reviews to opportunity management and coaching, we’ve got you covered.

So, sit back and let us walk you through how to leverage Discern to most effectively meet your goals.

Schedule Weekly or Bi-Weekly Forecast Meetings with Your Team

It is incredibly important to hold weekly or bi-weekly meetings with your Account Executives to not only ensure forecasts are as accurate as possible, but also deploy sales enablement and deal assistance as needed. Doing so will help improve your win rates, while also emphasizing the importance of CRM hygiene.

Most Discern customers are running their Forecast Meetings directly from the Discern Platform. Start by navigating to your Sales Dashboard, set the delta preferences based on your meeting cadence. For example, set Change over to the last 7 days if you hold your forecast meeting weekly. Now, you’ll be able to see exactly how your pipeline, forecast and opportunities changed since your last meeting. From the dashboard, you can see which deals advanced, got pushed to future quarters, got pulled into this quarter, had changes to ARR or forecast category, or closed.

Click through directly to your commit opportunities and see how Discern’s machine-learning probability score stacks up against the opportunities your reps marked as “Commit”. If you see any low scoring opportunities, you’ll probably want to ask the reps a bit more about the deal and confirm whether it should really be marked as Commit.

Coach Your Reps to Actively Work Their Pipeline

Depending on your sales cycle length, creating new pipeline may not be sufficient when ensuring you’ll have enough pipeline to hit current quarter targets. That’s why it is critical to ensure your reps are actively nurturing their existing pipeline as well. Actively nurturing opportunities will help move opportunities down the funnel, increasing early-to-late stage pipeline conversion rates. Doing so can also help compress your sales cycle and can pull in deals set to close in future quarters to the current quarter!

From Discern, you can navigate to the opportunity management tab and filter by opportunities with low or high activity levels or opportunities that have been stagnant. You can also find opportunities with a high probability to close in the current quarter, despite having a future quarter close date. These opportunities are the ones you’ll want to push your reps to work and try to pull in for the current quarter. 

Ask Your Reps and Managers to Forecast Each Week

If you ask your reps or managers to forecast each week for the current quarter’s bookings, the team will become extremely good at inspecting their opportunities and creating opportunities that will help them meet their quota.

Click on the “AE & Mgr Forecast” tab within the Sales Funnel module and ask either reps or managers to forecast for the quarter. Discern will help by displaying each opportunity, its stage, forecast category, and probability score, allowing the AE or the manager to override the amounts and predict create-and-close amounts. You will be able to view the weekly forecast history by rep and understand how accurate each rep tends to be. Then, you can roll up the values across teams and gain reliable predictability. Impress your executive team and board by “knowing the future,” and preventing surprises from popping up in the last few weeks of the quarter.

Encourage Your Reps to Accurately Set Opportunity Fields

Do you have reps who always overestimate their deal size, and then right before closing they drastically lower the ARR amount? Or do you have reps who constantly punt open opportunities to future dates? If so, you have probably seen the negative impact this has on sales forecasts.

By meeting with reps and looking at their push out rates or the number of times a deal’s size has changed, you can encourage your team to input more realistic ARR numbers and close dates. Plus, Discern gives you historical averages for deal sizes and sales cycles by granular segments, so your reps can base their inputs on data-backed assumptions.

To do so, you can go to Opportunity Management and filter by a particular rep. Then, when you have a 1:1, you can walk through the number of deal pushes or opportunity field changes for each opportunity. By bringing light to the fact that these habits are monitored and discouraged, your rep will think twice the next time they want to commit every opportunity to the current quarter.

Ensure Pipeline Coverage for Next Quarter and Monitor Pipeline Creation

You’ll want to look ahead to see if you have enough pipeline expected to close in future quarters. Discern enables you to compare how your future quarters’ pipeline changed between any two dates. If forward-looking pipeline is looking low, you’ll want to encourage your reps to do some more prospecting or perhaps you can even launch a pipeline creation content. These tactics should help improve your pipeline coverage for future quarters. To access this functionality, navigate to the Pipeline Modeling tab in Discern and scroll down to your “Forward-Looking Pipeline.”

Without pipeline you won’t book new business. That’s why it’s important to meticulously track pipeline creation and coverage trends over time, since pipeline creation tends to be lumpy from week to week. From the Sales Dashboard, Discern reveals weekly pipeline creation and compares your activity against a target based on your historical pipeline conversion rates.

Want to dive a little deeper? Schedule a meeting with Discern’s Customer Success team to discuss additional best practices for sales management.