Managing Enterprise Sales Opportunities: Quality vs. Quantity

Sales Management | Managing Performance | Managing the Pipeline

Previously, we discussed why “linearity” doesn’t work when managing enterprise sales opportunities. Selling to the enterprise involves fewer high dollar value opportunities as compared to SMB sales. So traditional daily or weekly SMB sales activity metrics such as “How many calls did you make today?” are less useful when managing an enterprise team.

The quality of each sales interaction your Account Executives have is much more important than the quantity at the enterprise level. But measuring and managing quality is challenging; it’s not something you can meaningfully track on a sales dashboard. Quality is something you have to observe and coach.

Here are three critical qualitative factors to help you provide high-impact sales coaching to your AE's and improve their win rates with enterprise accounts.

Factor 1: Understand the Problem

Foundational to any sales conversation is how well the AE understands the buyer’s business problem. Only then can the AE connect its solution to the buyer’s problem. A complicating factor with more complex enterprise opportunities is that AEs often need to understand the account’s business at three levels:

  • Operational level: This is the easiest for most AEs – connecting with technical users and discussing the features of their solution.

  • Business level: More challenging for an AE is to engage with more senior decision-makers and provide insights on the account’s business problems and how their solution can drive bottom-line results.

  • Executive level: Perhaps the most challenging for an AE is understanding how their solution impacts the account at the strategic level. There’s no question that the most challenging part of selling to the enterprise is connecting with C-Level executives and then explaining how their solution impacts the account’s business at the strategic level.

At your next pipeline review, ask your AEs:

  • Have they completed a detailed account plan for each significant sales opportunity? Does it demonstrate they understand the buyer’s problem at the operational, business, and executive levels?

  • Do they have a well thought-out solution to address the business problem(s) at each level of the account’s business, as well as senior executive support for their solution?

  • Can they quantity their value proposition?

  • Have they considered other business issues that affect value, such as implementation costs and risks, impact on other parts of the account’s business, and change management concerns?

Factor 2: Build Senior Relationships

Another factor that drives success at the enterprise level is how well the AE builds senior-level relationships. It’s easy enough for AEs to build relationships with the technical users at the operational level of an account. But it’s much more challenging to move up the ladder and connect with more senior decision-makers.

Managing the process of building relationships starts with developing a detailed relationship map for each account. Review the relationship map with the AE and ask:

  • Who does the AE have a relationship with now, and where are the gaps? Where can you help?

  • What is the depth/quality of each relationship? See here for a Relationship Strength Assessment.

  • What is the AEs plan to expand their relationship footprint within the account?

  • How many senior-level meetings has the AE had?

  • Have they identified and met with the economic buyer? If not, they may not have executive alignment.

Factor 3: Identify the Path to Closing

A successful AE understands the customer’s buying process and how to manage an enterprise opportunity to close. Early in the sales cycle, ask your AEs the following:

  • Do they have a “close plan” that starts with the expected close date and works backward with all of the tasks that need to happen to close the deal?

  • Has the buyer confirmed all of the steps of the close plan?

  • Has the AE aligned all of the internal resources needed to get the deal closed?

As a sales manager, you must manage both the quantity of sales activities as well as the quality of those activities. For enterprise opportunities, qualitative factors take on more relative importance than quantity. Ultimately, consistent quality selling by your AEs will correlate with great quantitative results.

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About David Jacoby

As a Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group, David helps large B2B sales organizations improve sales performance. Previously, David was a Principal at Linear Partners, a sales consulting firm providing sales strategy, sales operations, talent management, and interim management services to emerging growth companies. In the past, David has served as Vice President of Business Affairs of Xylo, Inc., where he was responsible for the Company's business development, sales operations, legal affairs, and financing activities.