HARDISON’S TIPS – OCTOBER 8, 2021 – Is It Time to Put Your Pipeline on a Diet? (PT.2)
Be More Discerning When Assessing Prospects in the Pipeline
If you are a Sales Manager or Business Owner, have you ever asked yourself why your salespeople add so many opportunities to their pipeline that have very little chance of closing? Have you considered it might be because this is what you ask them about at every meeting?
When you only ask about the new opportunities they have added, along with the size of their overall pipeline, you are telling them that only pipeline size matters and that pipeline quality is not important. It’s no surprise, then, that in the typical sales mindset, adding more prospects to the top of the sales funnel means more opportunities for an eventual sale. But because your salespeople are tasked with nurturing these prospects throughout the sales cycle, more prospects also means more work.
And if your conversion rates are low, most of this work will turn out to be wasted effort. Wouldn’t it be better if you could quickly determine which prospects are worth the trouble? And wouldn’t it be better if you could determine this earlier in the sales cycle? You can. The CRM will help, through critical analysis of past results and real-time data. But your salespeople can almost certainly do a better job upfront – and throughout the process – of asking better questions to determine if the prospect should be moved forward in the funnel, backward, or out of the funnel altogether.
Asking the right questions and actively listening to what the prospect says about present and future challenges can help the salesperson quickly discern the effort necessary to convert the prospect into a customer. What this new sales mindset probably requires, however, is a shift from the “always be closing” approach to one where you ditch the pitch and have real conversations to build real relationships. We cover this topic in greater depth here.
Improve Your Sales Process
Businesses get stuck doing things the same way because that’s how they’ve always been done. But when the competition is more adept at reacting and responding to the needs of the marketplace, it’s easy to get left behind. Make no mistake: sales is complicated. There are so many moving parts it can be overwhelming to manage. A well-crafted and utilized CRM can help. And changing the sales mindset from sell-first-listen-later to the opposite can help you continually qualify the prospects in your funnel. In the end, it is likely that your sales process, top to bottom, will need reviewed and revised to fit the marketplace and sales environment in which you operate.
To make necessary changes to the process, Sales Managers need to ride along with salespeople from time to time. They need to ask questions and engage directly with prospects and customers at various stages in the sales cycle. They need to meet one-on-one with sales team members vs. always meeting with the group as a whole. By doing these things, and by using CRM data along with professional intuition, necessary changes can be implemented to make the sales process more relevant and efficient.