Based on CEB’s research for “The Jolt Effect” 38% of the average salesperson’s deals are lost, not to the competition but to the customer making no decision at all. These are customers who often go through the entire purchase journey, only to end up doing nothing.
Why It Matters: You are making important strategic decision based on your sales pipeline and the information is inaccurate. It’s likely you have old, stale opportunities that need to be “washed” from your funnel.
In addition, your salespeople have a distorted sense of reality. They are comfortable with their weighted forecasted revenue, but the truth is a large percentage of their opportunities will never come to fruition.
Zoom In: Open your Opportunity Funnel and examine the opportunities that are closest to closing. First, see how long it’s been sitting in that stage. Next, ask your salesperson this one question: Do you have a Closed Loop? A closed loop is a calendar invite (day & time) accepted by the key stakeholder(s) within your prospect.
The Cold Hard Truth: If you don’t have a Closed Loop, don’t expect this opportunity to close. Your salesperson has lost control of your sales process and you are now at the mercy of your prospect re-engaging with you. Once your salesperson starts an email with “Following Up" or "Checking In” it's safe to assume this opportunity is headed to the wash.
What Can I Do: Establish rules to keep your Sales Pipeline current and examine your late-stage opportunities each week at your Sales Meeting. Move the prospect out of your Opportunity Funnel if your salespeople haven’t been able to secure a Closed Loop for 2 consecutive weeks (make sure to assign a task so it doesn't completely disappear).
The Truth Will Set You Free: While it might be gut-wrenching watching your opportunities and weighted forecasted revenue shrink, it will be liberating to see what is actually moving through your funnel. By keeping an honest pipeline you will be able to invest more time and resources with aligned opportunities that have the highest likelihood of closing.
In addition, it will reinforce the right behaviors of your salespeople (take and maintain control of your sales process) and provide some extra motivation to build their pipeline back up with current opportunities.
Carver Peterson helps growth-minded leaders of B2B professional & technical organizations achieve predictable and sustainable revenue growth through a refined strategy, defined process and aligned structure.