You’ve heard the saying: “a CRM is only as good as the data that’s entered into it”. While sales professionals are trained early on to always capture close dates, expected ACV, involved decision makers, stage in the sales process, next steps, and so on, the data tends to be black and white with little substance. That’s why many sales leaders have a hard time deciphering what deals are sandbagged and which are actually legitimate. Even more, it’s impossible for sales managers to understand what’s really going on behind the scenes. What problem is the prospect attempting to solve? Why is it important to them? Do they have a dedicated budget?
Without a deeper level of insight into each sales cycle, sales leaders might predict a strong quarter close, but end up significantly short with no data point to explain “why”.
“Blue Sheet” or “Deal Mechanics” Approaches Don’t Cut It
In order to combat the dilemma and to predict the future with a certain level of confidence, some sales organization have adopted a sales tool referred to as a “Blue Sheet”, originally developed by Miller Heiman. This often paper-based or Word doc tool is typically used as a strategic resource to help sales professionals identify red flags in the sales process and also identify gaps that haven’t been addressed. While resources like Blue Sheets can certainly be helpful, there’s a big problem: the insights are hidden in hundreds of individual documents, saved somewhere on sales professionals’ computers. They simply aren’t actionable outside of 1:1 coaching.
Effectively coaching sales professionals, predicting a quarter (and future quarters), and having an adequate understanding of what’s happening in each sales cycle is dependent upon a single factor: insight. The traditional deal mechanics method of capturing the obvious data points doesn’t provide enough detail, while the Blue Sheet process may provide the right type of data, but in an unscalable format. Fortunately, the practice of capturing a business case picks up where the other two methods trail off.
Let’s first take a look at how we define deal mechanics versus a business case:
Deal Mechanics Defined
Sales leaders and sales professionals alike are intimately familiar with the concept of deal mechanics. This is the “black and white” aspect of the sales process, and the data points are typically recorded in Salesforce via a drop down menu or a single type-in field:
- Expected ACV
- Anticipated close date
- Stakeholders involved
- Salesforce stage
- Next steps
While these data points are incredibly important, they don’t tell the full story. They are beneficial in the sense that sales leaders can quickly pull up what’s expected to close and what the current weighted pipeline looks like for quarter end, there’s little that can be used beyond that. Without the full story, sales managers can hardly make changes to the sales process or adopt an agile sales process that constantly iterates on what can be improved.
Business Case Defined
On the other hand, a business case builds on the bare bone basics of deal mechanics. A business case gets to the heart of what’s really taking place during the discovery process, the value conversations, and the progression through the sales funnel. A business case provides a deep level of insight into:
- What problem is the sales professional solving for the prospect?
- What is the actual root cause of that problem?
- Why is that problem (or solution) important to them?
- How does the sales professional know that a budget has been dedicated to solving the problem?
- Is the sales professional talking to the right stakeholders in the department or the organization?
- Is the sales professional aware of the security audits that may need to be conducted? Or other “gotchas” that might slow the deal?
- What is the business driver or compelling event that will get the deal across the line in a timely fashion?
Understanding the business case for each deal enables sales leaders to get to the root of the issue or to identify what’s working really well faster than ever before. By using a business case to coach and iterate, managers can determine if the sales professional was able to get to the root of the prospect’s problem during discovery, or if they based their sales cycle on surface level issues like, “I want to ramp up my sales reps faster”. With a deep level of detail into specific conversations, a sales manager can urge the sales professional to dig deeper to determine the “Why”. For instance, perhaps it takes the prospect 8 months to ramp up new reps and their forecast requires a 6-month ramp up period. Now that’s a root issue that savvy sales professionals can use to their advantage.
Deal Mechanics Versus Business Case - Why Both Matter
Deal mechanics are of course important to record into Salesforce and are beneficial when sales managers need a quick snapshot of current state. However, those simple facts provide zero help for when a sales leader is looking to improve team performance, re-structure the sales methodology, or create an iterative learning process.
Armed with actual qualitative data (and not just the black and white facts), sales leaders can use a business case approach to quickly identify issues in the sales process and continually make iterations and therefore, improvements. Best of all? They can use an agile sales platform to replace those tired blue sheets and create a real-time process for making changes—while simultaneously creating a culture of visibility and real-time learning and improving.
Ready to Learn More?
For more information on best practices of great sales leaders, check out the Costello resources below. If you’d like to see Costello in action, request a personalized demo of our agile deal management platform.