B2B organizations are facing challenging macroeconomic conditions, leaving senior sales executives worried about how they are going to meet (and hopefully exceed) sales targets in 2023. Internal processes have gotten more complex, frontline sellers often struggle to spot and prioritize opportunities, and many companies have siloed business functions – leading to long internal sales cycle times and unsatisfactory customer (and seller) experiences.
How can sales organizations address these challenges? By becoming more agile and willing to flex standard processes. Those that have done so are seeing top-line results. They succeed by using sales “win rooms” to target and accelerate customer acquisition activities. And win rooms work. McKinsey research shows they can generate increases in daily sales volume of over 30%, and improve conversion rates 5X.
Successful win rooms have two vital components:
Win rooms comprise small, cross-functional teams. It’s no longer just sales that concentrates on key deals. Colleagues from marketing, technology, finance, or whomever else is needed – as well as the relevant senior executives – are drawn into win rooms. These teams are fast and focused. Working together from day one, they target specific roadblocks on key deals and act with urgency in a customer-centric way to remove these obstacles and improve pipeline results.
Regular, carefully structured meetings are essential (in the post-COVID-19 sales world, hybrid is the norm), backed by dedicated resources. Typically, these meetings are in weekly sprints and involve daily steering and decisioning. Team members must have decision-making power and mandates to avoid getting stuck in slow internal processes. And there always needs to be an account owner who takes full responsibility for ensuring all activities are implemented and seamlessly orchestrated to meet the set deadlines.
However, successful win rooms do not rely on the team alone; they are always analytically informed. They’re not just places where colleagues come together to talk about opportunities or list problems. Win rooms are “machines” fueled by analytics, where every decision is supported by both data and the business judgment of the leaders in the room.
Analytics in B2B are a non-negotiable now. Win rooms need data to identify which are the most urgent deals on which to focus – depending on their size, complexity, competitiveness, and strategic relevance. In this way, 15 to 20 of the top deals can be brought to the cross-functional team to discuss, track, and accelerate. We’ve seen this have a huge impact when done on an ongoing basis.
By using data dashboards, win-room teams can constantly track sales reps’ performances and frontline feedback. The dashboards typically feature key performance indicators like pipeline velocity (the number of days to closure), pipeline value (projected sales and margin by stage of the pipeline), and pipeline volume (the number of deals at each stage), the win and loss rates, and the average selling price. This level of granular data empowers teams to make quick decisions, recalibrate when necessary, and ensure accountability.
Further, an organization’s transparency is increased with data – giving leaders confidence in the process. For example, a company created visibility of its large deals with key executives in the organization by having top conquest opportunities that were discussed in the win room automatically routed from the customer relationship management system to these executives. If there was a change (such as a big new deal added or a strategic deal lost), the executives were immediately alerted and could address the situation.
This is why win rooms succeed: By creating a process through which organizations can systematically flag roadblocks on deals in key accounts and work swiftly to remove them, win rooms enable opportunities to be pushed through the pipeline as efficiently as possible.
And these are not the only benefits. Win rooms are also a scalable way to build sales opportunities across more of the organization. By incorporating colleagues from different areas of the business, people other than those in sales develop a better sense of customer needs and an understanding of customer feedback. Organizations have found that these team members then develop customer-centric attitudes in their specific roles, which boost overall motivation and organizational performance. A win-win for everyone.
Times are uncertain, yes, but sales organizations can continue to build resilience by establishing win rooms to boost customer acquisition, increase revenue, and forge ahead of competitors.
Jennifer Stanley and Maria Valdivieso are partners in the Growth, Marketing, and Sales practice at McKinsey & Company.
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