During the last sales management training session I facilitated, one of the mangers in the room stated that based on analysis of their pipeline data, “We win in 61 days, and we lose in 186 days.” This reinforces the importance of establishing qualifying criteria early on for both marketing and sales to ensure that only “real” opportunities enter the pipeline. When I work with clients and help them put qualifying elements in place, it’s not uncommon for them to flush 50% of the opportunities out of their pipeline. Often there are engagements that were never going to close anyway or ones that had aged to over 12 months. That means that 50% of your pipeline may be creating a tremendous false expectation that will have a major impact on your forecasting and budgeting processes. Plus, pipelines full of erroneous expectations can be demoralizing to your sales force. So instead of managers spending time “closing” deals with their sales people, I suggest they spend time helping them better qualify opportunities early on. The reality is if someone is going to buy from you anyway (as in, they are “qualified” properly), they don’t have to be closed – they will “buy.”

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