Top 5 Reasons your Sales Pipeline might be a Pipedream
Sales Pipeline or Pipedream
Managing a Sales Pipeline is an essential discipline for any Sales Professional hoping to hit their Sales Targets. The principles of pipeline management are very simple – the sales persons’ job is to move the opportunities forwards along the pipe, and any opportunities that are not moving forward need to be qualified out and closed off. Most sales people are usually pretty good at moving stuff forward along the sales pipeline, but the problem comes when an opportunity is either stalled, or worse, needs to be qualified out and here is why.
1) Sales people invariably hang on to opportunities too long. Let’s face it, you could never be in sales if you weren’t optimistic, and so deep down we often simply hold on to an opportunity too long before closing it down. Hope can be your worst enemy in sales if it blinds you from reality and fills your Sales Pipeline with false hope.
2) A full Sales Pipeline is a signal to ourselves and Management that we are doing our job properly. The truth is, as long as we accept quantity over quality, our sales pipeline is only a pipe dream. Prospects not only need to be qualified to get in to the start of the sales pipe, they need to be re-qualified at every stage in order for them to move forward in the sales pipe.
3) A less than full sales pipeline means we need to add more leads/opportunities to the top of the sales funnel. This could mean prospecting, which means picking up the telephone at some stage and some sales people are just uncomfortable or lack the skills to prospect effectively.
4) Circumstances surrounding your prospect and the Opportunity can change with time. If you are not constantly re-qualifying your Opportunities at every stage of your Sales Pipeline they quickly become Un-Qualified Opportunities.
5) There is often a misplaced shame when qualifying out an opportunity that is in the sales pipeline. Great Sales People are Winners by nature and qualifying out an opportunity is often misinterpreted by some as a defeat – a lost sale, and we don’t like losing. There can be many reasons an Opportunity is no longer Qualified to be in your Sales Pipeline that have nothing to do with the ability of the Sales People.
Effectively managing a Sales Pipeline requires a Pipeline “Scrub”, as a minimum every single month by an objective third party. Someone who can ask difficult questions and someone who can make decisions based on sales facts not sales emotions. Closing the file and qualifying out any Opportunity does not always mean we have lost the sale, or done a bad job, in fact sometimes the opposite is true. It is much better to have a sales person qualify out an opportunity they weren’t going to win early, so that you can divert resources on to your best opportunities and not waste further time and money on a lost cause. Qualifying out an Opportunity does not mean you have qualified out the Prospect. Work on your relationship with the prospect to both position yourself and gain mindshare for the future. If circumstances then change, you can raise another opportunity and start afresh.
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