Tag Archive for 'prospects'

Do you know how to load your Sales Pipelines?

Here’s an ancient marketplace maxim: Selling is a numbers game.

A maxim is a generally accepted truth and this is one because of two realities:

1.  There are hundreds – if not thousands – of things that can cause a fully qualified prospect to not complete a transaction, at least not on your time parameters.

2.  Regardless of how many bumps you encounter on the path to a signed contract, it’s still your job to produce enough gross profit from sales revenue to stay in business.

Enter the sales pipeline: a planning concept that helps managers and salespeople forecast sales for any given period – week, month, quarter or year. Think of your sales pipeline as overhead plumbing with faucets positioned at the time intervals your operation requires. And from these faucets you draw the mother’s milk of any business – sales revenue.

But there’s one pesky thing about sales pipeline faucets: they all come with screens that only allow sales from qualified prospects pass through, while poorly developed prospects are blocked. So if you’re counting on revenue pouring out of a faucet when you turn the handle on the day you need sales, you must load only qualified prospects into your pipeline to begin with.

A qualified prospect has answered enough questions – directly or through research – to allow you to determine that they will likely purchase what you sell from someone in the forecastable future. Before you place a qualified prospect in the pipeline, you must know at a minimum:

· What’s left to do for them – demonstration, trial, proposal, final close, etc.;

· Anything else that has to be done to move them to customer status.

Your appraisal of all of this information will help you forecast which faucet you should expect a particular sale to pour out of this Friday, next week, next month, next quarter. Once in the pipeline, a prospect is either on track to become a sale, a lost sale, or a forecasting mistake to be removed.

Alas, in the absence of professional sales management, poorly trained salespeople will try to forecast low-quality prospects. And any company that counts on such practices is headed for a cash flow crisis and ultimate business failure. Not because the product wasn’t good, or the price was too high, or because of Amazon. But because the sales team didn’t load the sales pipeline with enough qualified prospects.

At this point, let’s refer to The Bard. In Act I, Scene III, of Hamlet, arguably Shakespeare’s most important work, Polonius famously says to his son, Laertes, “This above all, to thine own self be true.” If your sales team is honest with each other and management about a prospect’s qualified progress to faucet-conformity, you’re setting yourself up for success. If not, well, you know.

Sales has been and always will be a numbers game. But in the Age of the Customer, it’s increasingly becoming more of a quality prospecting game. Consequently, how much revenue you draw from your sales pipeline depends on the two elements of the 21st century sales success calculus: quantity x QUALITY = your ultimate sales performance.

Here’s Blasingame’s Law of Sales Pipeline Success: Load the pipeline with enough (quantity) qualified prospects (quality) to flow through the faucets of your sales pipeline whenever you need them (success).

Write this on a rock … Load your sales pipeline with quantity and quality, and to thine own self be true.

POLL RESULTS: What are your prospects and customers indicating for the rest of the year?

The Question:
What are your prospects and customers indicating for the rest of the year?

25% - We’re getting good signals from our prospects and customers.

42% - We’re not seeing anything negative, but not great either.

25% - Customers are hanging in there, but prospects are thin.

8% - Indications so far are that the 4th quarter will not be good.

Jim’s Comments:
We’ve just received new GDP numbers which show such a poor economic performance for the third quarter that it has dragged the annual productivity of the first half of the year back down to about 2% growth year-to-date. So this week in our online poll, when we asked the question above about your experience with customers, your mostly tepid response - 75% said “not great” or worse - tracked pretty closely with the GDP trend.

President Obama inherited an economic can of worms that wasn’t of his making. But we’re now coming to the end of his seventh year in office, so there’s no question that his current ecomomic state, presiding over the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression, belongs to him. It’s not easy to hold back the energy, innovation and determination of America’s business sector, but the president’s anti-business agenda and policies have accomplished just that. My evidence is GDP languishing in the 2% range every year since 2009.

Consequently, just as I wrote prior to the 2012 election, that there wouldn’t be an economic expansion until we had a new president. I’m reprising that prediction again now. Unfortunately, don’t look for much in the way of economic expansion - meaning more than just marginal growth - until this president leaves office in 2017.

Thanks for playing along. Please participate in this week’s poll below.


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