Improving the opportunity-to-close (OTC) process will lift the performance of your sales team and put the team in position to hit their numbers.

First of all, what does the term, “opportunity to close” mean?

The opportunity-to-close (OTC) process starts when a sales rep qualifies a lead into pipeline and ends when the deal gets signed. Successfully navigating the OTC process (which is sandwiched between the lead-to-opportunity (LTO) and quote-to-cash (QTC) process) depends on sales reps, sales managers, sales execs, and supporting teams like sales ops coming together to do these three things really well:

  1. Opportunity Management
  2. Pipeline Inspection
  3. Forecast Management

To paint a picture of how this all flows, take a look at the image below:

opportunity to close


Now, that you know what OTC is, what challenges are sales teams facing today?

Somewhere between identifying a solid prospect and getting them to sign, the end-to-end sales motion is stalling out. Based on Clari’s 2017 Opportunity-To-Close Research Survey, here are the top challenges sales reps, sales managers and sales execs face when it comes to the opportunity-to-close process.

Sales Reps

For starters, sales reps are spending a lot of their time chasing opportunities that don’t close and are struggling to meet quotas. According to Clari’s OTC Research Survey, half of those surveyed reported less than 50 percent of reps in their organization achieved quota last year. With just so many hours in a day, more often than not, sales reps run out of time and they aren’t logging all necessary data about the opportunities they’re chasing, which makes it a lot harder for their managers to do their jobs effectively.

[Tweet “”Less than 50 percent of reps achieved quota last year.” @ClariHQ”]

Sales Managers

When it comes to sales managers, they struggle to get visibility into the health of the pipeline (what’s at risk of slipping, where is there upside opportunity), which means they end up spending a lot of time chasing reps to get deal status. According to Clari’s OTC Research Survey, four out of five respondents reported more than 10 percent of their committed deals slipped out of quarter — and some 40 percent reported slippage in excess of 25 percent. Suffice to say, without pipeline visibility, this also presents challenges when they’re asked to call their number.

[Tweet “”40% of sales managers report slippage of committed deals in excess of 25%” @clarihq”]

Sales Execs

Sales execs need to be able to deliver accurate forecasts to the C-suite and the board. And, they need to identify risk early if there’s a chance they’ll fall short of the company’s revenue targets. Based on our OTC Research Survey, 48 percent claim accurately calling their numbers is the biggest sales challenge and only 7 percent say their forecasting process is “very efficient.”

[Tweet “”48% of sales execs say accurately forecasting numbers is their biggest challenge.””]

How sales teams are fixing their OTC process today

The journey from opportunity-to-close is often slippery — but it doesn’t need to be — especially if your team is focused on the right opportunities and is fueled by the right technology. If you want to overcome these OTC challenges, there are three parts to the equation you need to revisit:

  • How you manage your deals from the moment they enter pipeline
  • How you inspect your pipeline
  • How you forecast

Overall, it’s important to be able to understand where your sales teams are having the most trouble in the sales process and where they are doing well. By improving the OTC process, sales reps can know where to focus, sales managers can immediately spot risk in the pipeline and execs can forecast with confidence.

“How can I learn more?”

Sales teams can get a deeper dive into the topic of opportunity to close by downloading this free eBook or joining this upcoming webinar on how to boost your sales operating rhythm!