Why Do Sales Organizations Accept Untrusted Funnels?

Why do today what I can put off until tomorrow? People procrastinate because they are not certain what to do, they do not have enough time, or the task is just not that important. Sales organizations have been procrastinating on addressing their funnel confidence for years.


The 2015 MHI Sales Best Practices Study revealed that only 78% of world-class organizations had confidence in their funnel confidence, while all other respondents had a dismal 30% confidence in their funnel data.  For world-class organizations, this is the same level of funnel confidence that was reported in the 2013 study, so we’re not seeing progress.


The study also indicated that gaining insights from analytic tools is a strategic focus for sales organizations in 2015. However, the output of analytics will be based on a foundation of data that is not considered trustworthy, so even the most optimistic sales leader has to be skeptical about the results.


What is preventing sales organizations from addressing their funnel confidence issues?


Uncertainty about what to do

The task of cleaning and maintaining CRM data appears over whelming, but broken down into parts it can be accomplished. The first step is to create and educate the sales professionals and frontline sales managers on a set of business rules that govern:

What data is required

When it is needed

How often the data is to be updated (e.g., daily)

Validation process

Who is accountable


The next step is to appoint a data czar who reports directly to the sales leader. Harnessing the power of the sales leader, the data czar persistently and aggressively enforces the data governance policies. The data czar’s sole mission is to create a high degree of data quality.


Last, funnel confidence needs to be routinely measured against a baseline and target goal in order to determine progress. For example, a funnel confidence metric could be expressed as “95% of all opportunities audited met data quality standards.”


Not enough time

No sales organization is sitting around with nothing to do. Any available time is quickly filled with the next emergency or critical meeting. One way to approach data quality on an ongoing basis is to make it a mindset of each member of the sales team. In deal or funnel reviews, never let bad data slide. Leaders and FSMs should always make a point of identifying the data issue and obtain a commitment for it to be fixed by a specific date. “Making time” for current, complete and accurate data should be made a baseline expectation of every member of the sales team.


Just not that important

Some sales leaders will determine that the cost of keeping their funnel data clean simply outweighs the benefits of the CRM data. This in fact may be the case in smaller sales organization with low sales volumes and not many clients. But instilling the data discipline in smaller organizations allow for these organizations to accelerate their growth in the future.


Procrastinators, by definition, are not leaders. The first step to solving the funnel confidence is for sales leaders to simply take the first step.



Tom Chamberlain, Research Director, MHI Research Institute, April 2015