Sales Best Practices

The link between deal management and improved sales

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Serena Miller

Editor, Sales Best Practices

Deal management is by no means a new concept for sales teams, yet many still struggle to get it right. Sales managers and reps must keep track of all the moving parts of multiple simultaneous sales cycles, which can be time-consuming and complex. It’s a significant challenge for many sales teams, especially those that lack the proper visibility and deep understanding required to accurately assess deal health.

The stakes are high, though, since the ability to diagnose and act upon deal risk in a data-driven, proactive manner can make or break reps’ success. Manual, outdated sales tools won’t cut it; nor will acting on gut instinct alone. Sellers need robust processes and tools that help them gain true pipeline visibility, eliminate the time-consuming, tedious tasks that hinder their productivity, and quickly course-correct when a deal starts to go south.

Enter deal management, which — when effectively applied to the sales process — can help sales teams better access the health of the deals in their pipeline and act swiftly to achieve better outcomes. Here, we’ll discuss all things deal management, including benefits, useful implementation strategies, and some powerful tools for support.

What is deal management?

Deal management refers to the processes and tools a sales team uses to organize, track, manage, prioritize, analyze, and execute on the deals within their pipeline. It’s a purposeful approach to understanding the health of each deal and taking actionable steps to get them across the finish line.

Proper deal management is crucial because it ensures a consistent, reliable framework for sales success. When leaders and sellers have a bird’s-eye view into every aspect of every deal — and a clear understanding of how to resolve inevitable problems — they can stop operating on impulse and start making meaningful, repeatable progress that’s grounded in data. 

Effective deal management also contributes to long-term, positive customer relationships. Clients always know what to expect every time they engage with your organization, and they’re always attuned to the priorities and timelines involved in the buying process. This makes for happier, more confident customers who keep coming back for more.

Benefits of Deal Management

When implemented correctly, deal management can become your team’s competitive advantage. By pairing a strong process with sophisticated tools, sales leaders and reps can gain:

  • Faster sales cycles - A strong deal management process is backed by powerful tools for support; and that includes tools for automation, data-backed insights, and buyer alignment. By eliminating time-consuming, manual tasks and ensuring everyone is always on the same page, teams can reduce inefficiencies for shorter sales cycles.
  • Greater sales experience for customers - Modern buyers expect excellent customer experiences at every turn. Effective deal management means more consistent, engaging customer interactions that give your team a leg up against the competition.
  • Improved visibility and oversight - A well-established deal management process relies on clean, centralized data — which in turn improves visibility across all of your key sales functions. Managers and reps have real-time access to what’s happening in every deal, so they can intervene and resolve issues before it’s too late.
  • More accurate sales forecasts - By implementing successful deal management (and powerful tools to back up your process), your team can better analyze the pipeline in real time. This means revenue leaders can accurately and proactively fix deal risks to push the forecast higher.
  • Greater sales team collaboration - Instead of manually entering, updating, and accessing data in stagnant spreadsheets, reps need a more time-effective, accurate way to work together. A strong deal management tool helps sellers capture and access everything they need in real time in a single, user-friendly place, making it easier to tag-team and collaborate on deals.
  • Improved analysis and prioritization of deals - Rather than wondering which deal deserves your attention, deal management helps your team collect and analyze signals across the entire pipeline, then act on those signals accordingly. Unlike the traditional sales approach, an effective deal management process can empower sellers to prioritize the right deals based on real-time data and insights.

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Useful deal management strategies

While your deal management process might vary depending on your organization’s size, industry, and objectives, there are some tried-and-true best practices that any team can leverage for success:

Utilize your data

Sales teams are often too reliant on their gut instinct when it comes to managing deals and assessing what’s working, what’s not, and whether or not they’re on track. This isn’t a result of poor selling skills, but rather a lack of a consistent, reliable way to make data-driven assessments.

To ensure an effective deal management process, teams need to act on data rather than intuition. This can be challenging, though, especially if your reps track everything manually. Pulling all of that data together from disparate sources (e.g. spreadsheets, emails, your CRM, etc.) is time-consuming and error-prone; and once you’re finally done, that data likely no longer accurately reflects what’s happening at that very second. It’s a reactive approach, and there’s a good chance it’s costing you lost deals and revenue.

The only way to truly overcome this obstacle is to utilize tools that pull all of your real-time data together in a single, centralized place. Instead of wasting time gathering and analyzing the facts, the right technology can put your data to work for you; freeing up more time for coaching and selling. By capturing and assessing buyer signals across the entire buying cycle, for example, sales teams can effectively tweak their workflows to drive their pipeline.

It all comes down to capturing enough of the right signals and having full visibility into what’s happening across the whole pipeline, so make sure the tools your team uses are sophisticated enough to generate those data-backed insights. The result will be a more proactive, insights-driven sales team that’s ready to quickly prioritize and address deals based on what’s actually happening at that given moment.

Maintain diverse relationships

For any one sale, there are generally a handful of decision makers involved in the purchase. This is especially true in the complex world of B2B sales, where the typical buying group for a single solution includes 6–10 decision makers.

Failing to connect with several types of buyer personas within a prospect’s organization can mean excessively long sales cycles, or deals that are lost altogether. If, for instance, you only connect with a single C-level executive, you’re forced to rely on that individual to relay the value of your solution to other key stakeholders within their company. But priorities change, your message gets watered down, and that one person grows tired of receiving your followup emails.

That’s why It’s absolutely vital to connect with more than one person at a company in order to circumvent dead ends and reach the right decision makers. By identifying the right decision makers and building genuine relationships with each, you can avoid being at the mercy of a single person.

Strategize clear timelines for sales cycles

Regardless of the industry in which your organization operates, it’s crucial to establish a well-defined sales cycle. Without this detailed framework and a predetermined timeline, deal lifecycles can become extensively long.

Make sure you outline clear expectations for each stage in the sales cycle, too, so reps can better evaluate the health of each deal in the pipeline and move them forward, as needed. This will also help them to determine which activities to execute to ensure each deal is closed within the optimal time frame.

One way to guarantee sales cycle efficiency and timeline adherence is to utilize mutual action plans (MAPs) alongside your prospects and customers. MAPs help sellers outline key stakeholders, decision deadlines, and deliverables to improve visibility throughout the buying process—which makes deal management a more streamlined, measurable process.

Be confident through the process

For many sales professionals, it can be difficult to walk the fine line between confidence and cockiness; and buyers can certainly sniff out the difference. Today’s savvy buyers want to purchase their solutions from well-informed, knowledgeable sellers who don’t come off as pushy or arrogant, so it’s essential to find the right balance.

The best way to instill confidence in your reps is to arm them with everything they need to succeed. Newbie sellers and veteran salespeople alike should be self-assured that they’re executing the right actions at the right time. This requires in-depth insights into buyer signals across the entire buying journey and deal health across the complete pipeline. 

Some sales tech uses buyer sentiment analysis to help reps manage their deals with confidence, as it offers real-time visibility into every engagement. It takes into account context, so sellers better understand the appropriate next steps, are guided to identify prospects’ future objectives, and can assess how their deals will move and close. They take the guesswork out of the equation so sales teams always know they’re progressing with the best deal management strategy possible.

Tools for successful deal management

In today’s rapidly evolving sales market, remaining productive and effective hinges upon a team’s ability to assess, address, and resolve issues as they arise. Larger decision-making bodies, tighter budgets, and a more distributed workforce are among the most significant obstacles sellers face; and consistently overcoming those hurdles throughout deal cycles is a must.

Various sales tech solutions have been born out of this need, and advancements in deal management software, in particular, have helped teams become more productive. Deal management solutions use automation and insights to help sellers execute stronger deal cycles. They enable seamless deal tracking, including the myriad details (like key deal signals across emails, calls, and meetings) that might otherwise fall through the cracks, and automatically sync that data with the team’s CRM

Some deal management software even offers conversation intelligence, which supports better coaching in real time. They help managers and reps identify key signals and trends using comprehensive voice and video search, actionable meeting summaries, and relevant notifications. Plus, these tools allow sellers to build MAPs alongside their customers — keeping internal stakeholders and buyers engaged and aligned all the way through to the finish line.

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Intelligent solutions for stronger deal management

It’s no secret that effective deal management is a foundation factor of sales success. But without the right processes and tools, your team will likely struggle to overcome the complexities and inefficiencies traditionally associated with managing deals in their pipeline.

Outreach Guide automates selling plans, assists reps in sales meetings with AI-generated insights, and offers complete visibility into their deals. With real-time conversation intelligence and best practice action plans, sales teams can improve their deal management and execution in each sales cycle stage.

Learn more about how the right tool can help your team win more deals with less effort, or request a demo today.