I recently started working with a new client and we have been focused on establishing a more effective sales strategy and structure. The biggest challenge has been cleaning up their bloated sales pipeline.
They have some of the classic symptoms of a company with an inaccurate sales pipeline:
- Open opportunities in the pipeline for many months, with no clear next steps or timeline to close
- Inability to accurately predict how many deals will close each month and how much revenue to expect
- Their sales people have been chasing prospects that are not a good fit for the company
When I asked them how many deals in the pipeline were true opportunities that would be a good fit and close in the next one to two months, they told me they believed it was probably 25% or less. Ouch!
That’s a lot of time and effort spent chasing bad prospects and opportunities when they could have been focusing that energy on deals with a higher chance of closing. In the meantime, they’ve been worried about having the money they need to continue to reinvest in their employees and the business (and grow the business faster.) It’s a shame that these misguided efforts put them in that position.
You’ve probably never seen this scenario from your sales structure or people, right?
As I worked with the client to dig under the surface to examine what caused all of this, we started to find the causes were things that the client hadn’t even focused on. We discovered that the real causes were:
- Lack of clarity on what is an ideal prospect/client
- Lack of an effective sales process
- Lack of defined qualification stages in their CRM (that are tied to the sales process)
- Lack of regular evaluation of opportunities in their pipeline to ensure they are meeting the qualification criteria and are in the right stage of the sales process and CRM
- Lack of clarity on these items for the executive team, which means lack of clarity and accountability on these for their sales team
- Lack of knowledge on how to coach their sales team on deals to ensure they meet the proper qualification criteria
I have a question for you: As you look at this list, can you easily check off these items and truthfully say that you have all of them in place for your sales structure and people?
How do you really know if you do or don’t?