When businesses need to understand their sales pipeline, they often rely on a weighted pipeline.
This term refers to the practice of assigning a value to each sales stage in the sales process, with each value representing a different degree of certainty that customers will eventually purchase.
What Is a Weighted Pipeline?
In sales forecasting, a weighted pipeline is a sales pipeline tracking metric that measures the average likelihood of a deal closing by assigning a weighted score to each opportunity.
The weights assigned to individual opportunities are based on factors such as stage in the buying process, decision-maker authority, competitive landscape, and historical close rates for deals similar to the one being tracked.
By assigning weightings to each opportunity in the pipeline, an organization can get a more accurate picture of its overall sales performance and forecast future results.
Weighted pipelines are most often used in business-to-business (B2B) sales organizations where the complexity and length of the sales cycle necessitates a more detailed level of tracking than what is typically seen in B2C sales.
- Weighted Sales Pipeline – In sales, this term is often used interchangeably with the term weighted pipeline.
- Sales Scorecard – A sales scorecard is a tool that allows sales teams to compare their performance against goals across multiple metrics. In this context, the term “weighted pipeline” is sometimes used to refer to a sales scorecard with weighted pipeline data included.
- Value Selling – Value selling is a customer-focused approach that places an emphasis on demonstrating tangible value for the customer in every sale.
The term “weighted pipeline” may be used to refer to the practice of assigning weighted values to customer opportunities to more accurately assess and forecast their likelihood of closing.
Benefits of a Weighted Pipeline
Using a weighted pipeline provides several key benefits to a sales organization. These include:
- Increased visibility into the progress of opportunities in the pipeline, including their likelihood of closing
- More accurate forecasting of future results
- Improved efficiency and effectiveness in sales operations
- Greater focus on high-value opportunities
- Higher close rates and revenue growth
By leveraging these benefits, sales teams can gain a competitive advantage in their market and maximize the success of their sales efforts.
Challenges of a Weighted Pipeline
Of course, implementing weighted pipelines into the sales process poses some challenges. These include:
- Collecting accurate data about customer opportunities and sales stages in a timely manner
- Identifying reliable metrics for assigning weights to individual opportunities
- Consistently updating values as deals progress through the pipeline
- Accurately forecasting results in the face of changes in the market or other external factors
These challenges can be addressed through careful planning, effective team collaboration, and the use of sales technology to automate data collection.
Developing a Weighted Sales Pipeline
Building a weighted sales pipeline involves several steps, including determining the desired pipeline metric, collecting relevant data, and assigning weights to various stages in the sales process.
Define Pipeline/Opportunity Stages
To begin, an organization must decide which metric it will use to measure its sales performance (e.g., close rate or average deal size).
Once this decision is made, the team can then collect and organize data about customer opportunities and assign weights to each stage in the process.
In order to define the stages, teams should identify the key steps or milestones that must be completed for a deal to close. This may include activities such as prospecting, lead qualification, proposal generation, negotiating terms, and closing the deal.
For each stage, an organization should assign a weight based on its importance relative to other stages and how often opportunities at that stage close. For example, a team may assign a higher weight to the closing stage of a sale than it would to the proposal creation stage.
Assign Weights to Pipeline Stages
For each stage, an organization should assign a weight based on its importance relative to other stages and how often opportunities at that stage close.
For example, a team may assign a higher weight to the closing stage of a sale than it would to the proposal creation stage.
The weights will also differ based on how well the team is performing at each stage. For instance, if a team is closing 80% of deals in the proposal creation stage but only 20% of those in the negotiation phase, it may assign higher weights to the latter stage.
Collect and Analyze Data
Once stages are identified and assigned weights, teams can begin collecting data about customer opportunities in each stage. This may include information such as account size, deal value, customer contact information, and other factors that can help teams identify trends and make better decisions about how to move deals through the pipeline.
By collecting data on each opportunity in the pipeline, teams can analyze performance metrics such as close rates and conversion ratios to assess the effectiveness of their sales process.
Analyzing this data can also help teams identify areas for improvement in the weighted pipeline model and adjust the weights as needed.
When To Use a Weighted Sales Pipeline
There are a few times businesses should use weighted sales pipelines, and a few times where businesses shouldn’t.
A weighted sales pipeline is best used when:
- There is a quantifiable need to track opportunities and measure deal stage probability with greater accuracy
- Some trends can be identified in customer data that can inform decision-making
- The sales team needs a better way of measuring progress toward goals
- Other organizations in the same industry are using weighted pipelines successfully
On the other hand, a weighted sales pipeline should not be used when:
- There is not reliable data available to assign weights
- A complex sales process convolutes the data
- The sales funnel changes frequently
- The team has other ways of measuring progress that are more effective for them
By understanding when to use a weighted sales pipeline and how to build one, businesses can gain valuable insights into their sales process and make smarter decisions about their deal cycle.
With the right data and weights, teams can be sure to focus on the most important and valuable activities to reach their expected quota.
Weighted Pipeline Metrics
Depending on whether a company needs to forecast expected sales or expected revenue, the metrics used to measure the weighted pipeline will vary.
How to Forecast Expected Sales
For forecasting expected sales, companies should use the following metrics:
- Percent of Opportunities Closed: This metric shows the percentage of Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) that close each stage. This helps teams identify trends in their sales process and focus on activities that are more likely to result in closed deals.
- Weighted Close Rate: Weighted close rate combines the percentage of opportunities closed with the weighted assigned to each stage. The higher the weighted close rate, the higher the probability of closing potential sales leads.
- Average Order Value: Average order value tells teams how much revenue they can expect to make from each customer. This helps them understand how much effort is necessary to close a sale and how many customers they need to acquire to reach their sales goals.
How to Measure Expected Revenue
Revenue forecasting is a bit different—teams should use the following metrics to measure expected revenue from customers:
- Average Deal Size: Average deal size measures how much money teams can expect to make from each customer. This is usually calculated by taking the total revenue generated by a set of customers and dividing it by the number of customers.
- Weighted Deal Value: Weighted deal value combines the average deal size with the weighted assigned to each stage. The higher the weighted deal value, the more likely it is that teams will reach their revenue goals.
- Price Per Unit: Price per unit tells teams how much money they can expect to make from each customer purchase. This metric helps them estimate their expected revenues and adjust pricing accordingly.
- Annual Contract Value: Similar to average order value, annual contract value shows teams the value of a customer over the course of a year and helps them plan accordingly.
Weighted Sales Pipeline Technology
Businesses have a few options for building and managing their weighted sales pipelines.
Opportunity Management Tools
Salesforce or HubSpot offer specialized software which provides detailed reports that teams can use to analyze their weighted sales pipeline and make more informed decisions.
These platforms also allow teams to automate processes such as customer segmentation, forecasting, and sales tracking.
Most modern CRM systems offer advanced analytics, which can be used to assign weights to customer opportunities and measure performance.
Another benefit to CRM systems is their ability to track customer data and generate reports that can be used to optimize sales processes over time.
Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) software simplifies the sales process by allowing teams to quickly and accurately generate quotes based on customer requirements. This helps teams identify opportunities faster and more accurately forecast expected revenue.
People Also Ask
What is weighted vs unweighted sales pipeline?
A weighted sales pipeline takes into account the value of each sales opportunity. This means assigning weights to different pipeline stages to better measure performance and forecast expected revenue.
An unweighted pipeline does not use this weighting system, making it less accurate when forecasting.
What is a weighted pipeline report?
A weighted pipeline report is a report that sales managers use to get a better picture of their sales process.
It combines the percentage of opportunities closed with the weight assigned to each stage, enabling managers to identify trends in their sales process and focus on activities that are more likely to result in closed deals.
What are pipeline stages in sales?
The pipeline stages in sales are defined steps that a salesperson has to go through in order to convert an opportunity into a sale.
These deal stages may include lead generation, contact qualification, needs assessment, proposal and negotiation, agreement, and follow-up.