A simple little report that contains high quality data (if you know how to use it).
Not unlike the WIP (work in progress) report, the SIP (sales in progress) report is a measure of how a business is progressing the opportunities that are in front of it, and those that are on the horizon.
It’s an extremely important tool that helps a company see what it needs to see about how it’s performing – and then better direct its efforts to allow it to reach the sales targets it’s set, assuming this has been done.
As business development consultants, we’ve spent a lot of time sitting with clients to, firstly, ensure they have a SIP report and, secondly, to ensure the data in the report is accurate. The next step is to help them get into the habit of reviewing this data monthly and then use these insights to make smart decisions.
Rather than delve into SIP report data itself, it’s more powerful here to share the common patterns revealed by engaging with these reports.
A key benefit of a SIP report is that it can show if a business has sufficient opportunities in front of it to be able to close the number of sales required to be profitable (or to hit sales targets).
If it’s uncovered that there aren’t enough opportunities, organisations can take this insight and set about creating more openings to be out in the marketplace where it can have more of the right conversations with the right people about the right opportunities.
It’s a chance to ask questions, like:
- Do we need to have more conversations with existing clients?
- Do we need to explore new opportunities with existing clients?
- Do we need to get out and do more proactive networking?
- Are we talking to the right people? Do they need or want what we offer?
- Is it time to get out and source new business directly?
- What variables do we need to factor in to reach our target?
A SIP report may bring to light that a business has enough opportunities but isn’t closing as many as it should be. When this is an issue, often it’s because the lead isn’t as well qualified as it needs to be, which is a critical step in the sales process. Often, we’re pulling clients back from putting a proposal in front of a potential customer until they’ve qualified it’s a genuine opportunity. This is because sometimes people will use a proposal simply to see if the offering is something they should be doing or not.
A SIP report can also lay bare the cold hard facts that a company or its staff simply are not good enough at closing a sale. Or it may show there’s a lack of skill impacting its ability to build a solid pipeline of potential sales. There’s a chance it will reveal key sales staff don’t know how to network successfully or are too apprehensive about getting outside of their known networks or lack the confidence to do it. Or it may highlight they don’t know clearly enough what product they’re selling.
Sometimes, it illuminates that new sales team members are required or that current ones need skill development or extra training.
Insights for all
We’ve never been involved with a business that doesn’t need to get better at some of these things, because much of it doesn’t come naturally to most people.
The truth is that closing deals is stressful and involves a lot of hard work.
It’s also true that closing deals is critical work for a business and so it must ensure it has a well-functioning sales division that’s looking ahead at opportunities and positioning itself to close as many as it can.
While they’re incredibly powerful, even in 2023, we find many companies aren’t embracing SIP reports.
Others use them but aren’t adept at gleaning accurate insights, thus limiting their impact.
A SIP report is powerful only if a business has a manager with the ability to use the data to see what needs to be seen to make a tangible difference. When that piece of the puzzle is missing, the good news is that there are effective ways to build the muscle and overcome the challenge.
When a company can successfully do that, it can use all-important SIP report insights to develop competency in its team. We’ll talk about that in the next part of our series.