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It’s that time of year. Many of us have taken a vacation, are on vacation now, or have upcoming vacation plans. With September quickly approaching, have you taken the time to assess the quality of your pipeline to ensure you will meet or exceed quota this year?
I’ve written much about the importance of understanding your customer’s priorities to enable you to forecast opportunities that you have confirmed are a priority to your customer(s). But with December 31 (if you’re on a fiscal calendar) coming up very quickly, have you considered doing a Sequence of Events document with your customers?
Also known as a Joint Evaluation Plan or Closing Plan, this document ensures that (a) the problem you are helping to solve for your customer is still a top priority, and (b) the timing is understood and agreed by all the parties involved.
The best plans start with an end date in mind. When does your customer want your products and/or services to go into production? Work backwards from there, and then ask yourself: How long does it take to implement? How long does it take to get a contract signed? When is a proposal due? When should I do demos?
Whether in an Excel spreadsheet or a more formal document, delve into these details to see IF the dates make sense to you. This can be as simple as logging the activity, the responsible party and the date. For example, after planning the dates with the end date in mind, are you 100% sure you can close it on the date you forecasted?
Now add in the dates from your customer’s point of view. Are you guessing? If you are, then ask your sales manager to add their activities, dates and responsible parties into the document. Remember, your customer also has a process. It takes them X amount of time to get contracts done. It takes them Y amount of time to implement products and services. There may be activities that have nothing to do with your company, but are critical to the success of your implementation. Do you know what they are?
Then share the document with your customer and use it as a barometer to understand their level of engagement and any areas of potential slippage, since there will likely be slippage. Your job is to ensure both parties know this way in advance in order to plan accordingly.
So, I ask again: Have you taken the time to assess the quality of your pipeline to ensure you will meet or exceed quota this year? If the answer is “no,” then no problem. Take the time to create a joint plan with your customer. It will be eye opening.