Pipeline Management – Flash It or Flush It

In his book Jolt, Matt Dixon wrote that 40-60% of opportunities salespeople pursue go dark, meaning they are waiting endlessly for a buyer’s decision. It’s not that these buyers cannot decide on the details or price of your proposal or offer. No, the real reason for not getting back to the salesperson with an answer is that, after serious consideration, they prefer their status quo over a change.

Obviously, from the buyer’s perspective, there is not enough value created in these sales conversations, so they don’t see the reason for changing. From their perspective, they think: What I got is good enough. You’re not better. It’s not worth the squeeze.

If you recognize this situation, you are wasting 2/3 of your pipeline management time. You are waiting for nothing; I am sure you can spend that time better.

A proper pipeline review will help. Focusing on opportunities that will never become revenue outcomes is hoping for nothing. You become a prisoner of hope. It’s time for your pipeline management to Flash It or Flush It. But where and how to start? What pipeline criteria make sense in modern selling?

Pipeline management criteria

Here are -Flash It or Flush It- questions to ask yourself per opportunity:

Have you uncovered insightful information the customer may not know and can change their perspective of their situation and challenges?Y/N
Can you describe your idea on how to help the customer with growing their business?Y/N
Have you identified who is in the Buying Room and where they are on the Buying Clock? Y/N
Is there a Hidden Competitor, and if yes, have you overcome this? Y/N
Have you helped your Change Champion build a business case for change?Y/N
Is there consensus in the Buying Room that a change is needed? Y/N

You are ready to proceed if you can answer a solid “Yes” to all these questions. Keep the opportunity in your pipeline and prepare for a “Why Us?” conversation. If not, you may be moving too fast in your sales process while your stakeholders are still not convinced that a change should be made or what the change should look like. You may have lost them, and your opportunity goes dark. Flush these and revisit them at another time.

Challenge yourself and make real tough decisions. You may have to flush 2/3 of your pipeline, but by doing so, you will gain three things:

  1. You have more time to focus on the remaining opportunities
  2. You have time to figure out per opportunity what is needed to help the customer move forward in their buying process. Eg.
    • What is the quantifiable value of change that you propose?
    • What ROI is your idea suggesting?
    • What unique solution criteria are needed to make your idea work?
    • What success stories can you share to support your case for change?
  3. You free up space in your pipeline for new opportunities to enter.

Flash it or Flush it is a worthwhile pipeline management exercise. Do it before you go down the rabbit hole of hoping to close opportunities not ready for such a conversation. Yet.

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