The War Room is a vital concept in sales management.
A physical war room, in the military, is a space in which generals, officers, and battle coordinators visually plan out battle tactics and strategies for specific operations. In business, the term has come to mean a meeting space built for the specific purpose of providing a dedicated location for stakeholders and project teams to share a location and visually communicate tasks and activities associated with the execution of critical projects.
I first ran across the war room concept in an IBM demonstration many years ago, and a short time back wrote my own book on the subject entitled Leading from the War Room: Building a Battle-Ready Sales Force. I also recently read a very interesting book on the subject called Sales Growth: Five Proven Strategies from the World’s Sales Leaders.
War Room Importance
Why is a war room important? Think about being in a war room, with a battle operation occurring. If the operation is complex, how can a general or officer make immediate and effective decisions? A war room must be very actively dynamic and very visual—otherwise one could make wrong decisions, which of course has been done many times (remember the total disaster that was the Vietnam War?).
Luckily General Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his war room for the invasion of Normandy at the end of World War II, made the right decisions. Can you imagine what it must have been like, just logistically, to organize the coordinated beach landing of 156,000 troops? Today technology makes it possible, and Eisenhower didn’t have anything like that.
The Sales War Room
Moving over to sales, the idea is to control and manage all of your sales resources in one location, in a way that they are all visually available and all data is present.
The book I recently read mentioned above, Sales Growth, provided an example of a modern sales war room, in which large printed forms were posted as a board on the wall. The board was labeled “Sales Team Performance Board,” and had headings such as “must-win deals” under which someone (presumably the sales manager) could write them.
The problem with such a board, however, is that with it there cannot possibly be dynamic visualization, as all data has to be entered (or removed) by hand.
The War Room Meeting
The only truly efficient way a war room concept can be operated in sales is with a product such as Pipeliner CRM. Let’s take a look at how a war room meeting could be run utilizing Pipeliner’s totally unique features.
A war room meeting should be conducted regularly (weekly is best) and should focus on what needs to be accomplished to make quota by the end of the month, quarter, half-year or year, depending on the sales period the company uses. The war room meeting does not take the place of meetings a sales manager might have with individual sales reps about particular deals, and would not attempt to take up individual deals as such a meeting would be far too long.
The war room meeting is centered around the overall target for that sales period. There are five target types available in Pipeliner CRM:
Unweighted Sales Target: The value of all opportunities in a pipeline without any closing probability percentages. This can be useful if you have some historical data that says, for example, that a rep closes 10% of all opportunities. You would look for the Unweighted Sales Target to be at least 10x the goal.
Weighted Sales Target: The Weighted Target is equal to the sum of the total opportunity values in each sales stage, multiplied by the probability of closure for that sales process stage.
Ranked Target: Each rep has the ability to apply a personal ranking to each of their opportunities, from one to five stars. The Ranked Target shows their level of confidence in their opportunities.
Balanced Target: The Balanced Target can be looked at as a worst-case scenario because it balances the weighted pipeline and the ranked pipeline.
Real Target: The Real Target represents the actual closed or won opportunities.
Power Panel Filter
Now, let us say that we’ve got a target for the month, but there are only 10 days left in the month.
When you’ve only got that much time left in the sales period, you might find that deals in the first sales stage—in our example, the Proposal stage—couldn’t possibly close in the time left in the sales period. You can see in our example that the overall target including Stage 1 deals comes to just over $200,000.
So using Pipeliner’s Power Panel filter, we can exclude the deals in Stage 1 from the overall target. We can immediately see, visually, what the pipeline looks like without those deals.
You might also find that the deals in the second stage—in our case Negotiation—won’t very likely close by the end of the sales period, either. So we can exclude those as well, and now we visually see what the pipeline looks like without Stage 1 and Stage 2. That just leaves us the deals in the last three stages.
Looking at the target after excluding deals from Stage 1 and Stage 2, we find that we have potential deals worth $192,000 in the pipeline. Unfortunately, those deals are only worth 72% of our quota. If we managed to close every single one of those deals—which of course would only happen in dreams—we still wouldn’t have the quota. If we had 300% of the quota in potential deals, we could afford to lose some and still make it.
A sales manager in conducting a war room meeting can filter down even further—a specific deal can be excluded from the overall target, and the target can be seen without particular deals included. In this example, we might exclude a particular deal because a proposal has been sent and the buyer hasn’t even responded. That deal is not likely to close in the next 10 days.
Particularly useful in a war room meeting is the capability to filter deals by ranking. As noted above under target types, sales reps can apply a personal ranking to each of their deals, from 1 to 5 stars. Ranking shows the level of confidence a rep has in a deal. In the meeting, it might be seen that a rep has ranked a deal 80%, and the sales manager could question this: Do you really think there’s that much chance that deal will come in?
Now we can filter by Fitness, and see how to fit each of these deals are: green (fit, on target), red (immediate action required) or yellow (attention needed).
Or you can filter by rep, and only see the deals for a particular salesperson. Questions can be asked about individual deals.
So after some figuring, let us say that we now have a possibility of bringing in $100,000 worth of business in the last 10 days of the month. Again, we know we won’t bring in all of that, but at least now we have a clearer picture.
At this time, if you felt the need, you could now run an instant report, with one click, on the filter view you’re now looking at.
Throughout the illustrations in the above example, we’ve been looking at the Pipeline View. But there are other views in Pipeliner that are highly useful to the war room meeting. One is the Map View, which geographically shows where each of your opportunities is located.
Another is the List View, which works like a spreadsheet. It allows you to sort by clicking on column headers, and with it, you can immediately see how deals fit into your overall target or analysis. You can access the List View in Leads, Opportunities, Accounts, Contacts, Activities, and the Archive.
The Archive is a vital feature totally unique to Pipeliner. It allows you to view, with the same views as live deals, all of the opportunities which have been lost. You can see precisely when they were lost, and in which sales process stages. All of the relevant information about each deal is still available.
Especially useful in the war room meeting is the Archive’s Win/Lose rate functionality. You can immediately see the team’s (or a particular rep’s) success rate. For example, if the team has closed $46,000, but lost $200,000 within a given sales period, the success rate is 23 percent. You can also see the average time a deal takes to close.
Lastly, a tool highly useful in war room meetings is the forecasting tool, found in Pipeliner’s reporting functionality. With it, you can instantly see how much you currently have in the pipeline against the forecasted amount, how much individual reps are forecasting, and what they have reached so far.
With this tool, you can easily figure out how much you’ll have to make to reach your target. In a simple example, if your team’s closing ratio is 10 percent, and your sales target is $1 million, you’ll need $10 million in the pipeline. You can break this down per rep and see how much each rep will have to make.
The War Room is Security
What is the outcome of such a meeting? Probably that you have to create more deals, or engage in some marketing activity, or perhaps pull together a team to bring in a particular deal.
In a war room, you’re visually demonstrating the strategy and tactics you’re using to win the game. It can greatly enliven a team and cause them to stand up and say, “We can do this!” The war room serves to fully line up what it will take to make that quota.
War room visualization immediately shows you how secure you are. It helps companies and individuals to reduce risk and fully leverage opportunities. All of that accumulates into action.
Just as a note, no CRM can perform this kind of instant visualization except Pipeliner. While others are writing on paper forms on the wall, we’re making an entire current pipeline visible within seconds.