You say things like:“How was that call/meeting?”
And they respond with:
- “I had a really good meeting.”
- “They’re definitely interested.”
- “This one should close by the end of the month.”
But the business never comes. Or, when it finally does, it took so long to close, or was closed at such a low margin, it wasn’t worth the effort. By the time this opportunity exited the pipeline, you’ve gained little and wasted much.
And here’s what should trouble you the most: your sales guy actually believed it. In his heart of hearts, he thought he had it. By now you’ve realized that this was never an opportunity in the first place, or that it’s been dead for a while. He was just the last one to know. Your sales guy was just this particular prospect’s latest victim. Bested again by the chase, the game. The buyer-seller dance.
It’s not that your prospects are bad people. They’re just playing (and winning!) the game. And can we blame them? After all, it works. All they have to do is mislead a little. And make your people chase them. Then they get to take your ideas and implement a solution on their own. Or get your competitor to do similar work for less money.
Remember, you CAN lie to salespeople and still get in to heaven.
Why does this happen?
The prospect who convinces your sales person that “they’re definitely interested” faces no resistance. They also maintain control. And the prospect who is in control gets exactly what they want.
- “Sure Mr. Prospect, I’ll send you information.”
- “Sure Ms. Prospect, I’ll take as much time as you’d like to run 32 different proposals.”
- “Sure Mr. Prospect, let’s take a look at cutting the price.”
- “Sure Ms. Prospect, give me a call once your cousin’s college roommate’s dog walker’s Rabi gets out of the hospital.”
Most sales people believe that they’re system of selling works for them because it works some of the time.
And they actually believe they invented it.
But the truth is, the prospect is the puppet master. The sales person is just the party who is falling in line. It takes two to dance, but only one person leads. And if your people are chasing, posing no resistance, and remaining on unequal business footing with their prospects, they aren’t good dancers.
And the best dancer leads.
But what if things were different?
What if you could actually use your new opportunity pipeline to accurately forecast revenue? How much more revenue would there be to forecast if your people spent less time following up on dead opportunities and more time stuffing qualified opportunities into the top of the funnel? How much pressure would this alleviate?
What if your salespeople only proposed to opportunities they were going to close? What if they spent no time chasing? What if every single opportunity that moved into the late stages of your pipeline actually turned into money?
It’s probably not as hard as you think it is. Your people just need to become better dancers. They need a dance they actually did invent. A dance where the outcomes are predictable. A dance where there are no surprises. A dance where an order follows every proposal. A dance where there is no chasing. A dance where urgency exists.
A dance where they lead, and the prospect follows.
A seller-buyer dance.