"I am satisfied with the QUALITY of opportunities in our sales pipeline": True or False (for your business)?
There are FOUR reasons why a company’s sales pipeline - a list of business opportunities waiting to be closed - does not have enough Quality of prospects in it. And there are four corresponding ways - PATHS - to fix this problem, once and for all.
FIRST PATH You are not clear about what makes an IDEAL prospect. How do we define an ideal prospect? Ask yourself the following questions: Whose problems am I solving? What kinds of business? What kinds of people? Business owners? Presidents? CFOs? CIO? VP’s of Sales? How important is it for these people to solve the particular problems my business addresses? Would they have the authority to spend the money to buy my products or services? Are they the final decision makers? Who else would get involved in making the final decision?
SECOND PATH Your MESSAGE does not address your ideal prospect and his or her problems, goals and aspirations. This is the issue that trips the smartest of the business owners. The MESSAGE ties everything in your business. This core message - call it a STORY if you like - communicates, in no uncertain terms, what’s in it for your target market to notice your products or services. I have written a lot on this subject. Follow the link “Want to Jump Start Your Sales? STOP Marketing!” to the right.
THIRD PATH You or your sales people are calling unqualified prospects qualified. The question is, if we are clear about what makes an ideal prospect, why would we still call a non-ideal prospect ideal or qualified? Many explanations for this strange phenomenon. But perhaps it all boils down to one term: emotional strength. In other words, we get someone interested in our products and services and it gets us excited - emotionally involved. So we tell ourselves that a prospects is a good prospect even if, in reality, he is not. How would you make sure that your sales people don’t fall for this? What kind of communication do you need to have with your salespeople to make sure that they are not painting a rosy picture to you and - more importantly - themselves?
FOURTH PATH You are turning QUALIFIED prospects into UNQUALIFIED ones by giving away your expertise, knowledge, energy and time. In the world of selling, where the prospect seemingly have all powers, there is only one power that a salesperson has - his expertise. When we give away this power prematurely at the beginning of a sales- cycle we lose the only leverage we have with a prospect. This results in those frustrating “We will Think It Overs” - reducing the salesperson to a “pest” who is endlessly chasing the prospect. In the meantime, the expertise you gave to your prospects gets used by him to get a better deal with you competitors. How can you make sure that you don’t give away your expertise to your prospects prematurely?