Pipeline Disasters? Here Is How to Fix It

Have you come to a stage where you face the truth: your pipeline and pipeline management sucks? You keep adding new opportunities in your pipeline to meet some company pipeline KPIs or make your manager happy.

On the other hand, you cannot pile opportunities up forever, so on a regular basis, you move the “unsuccessful” ones out to the “maybe in the future basket”. On top of that, and it is actually the result of not having a great pipeline, your closing ratio is way below average. Does that sound familiar? What to do?

Stop managing pipelines and start selling!

The first thing is to throw out all junk opportunities. Don’t fool yourself. Keep the real ones – these are the opportunities you have started any kind of engagement with the prospective customer in an initiative to change. If not, move them out of your working pipeline.

True, you may not have many real opportunities left over.

Next is to focus on the prospective customer. Have you been able to understand their objectives for the next years? What do they want to achieve? And how can you possibly help? Wait to discuss the price until the prospective customer wants to change because they see the additional value they currently lack.

Managing your pipeline is not a race.

Many salespeople move their opportunities too soon to the next pipeline stage. As if it is a race to the proposal stage. Only move to the proposal stage if there is a desire from the prospective customer to change their business from your competitor to you. They truly see the value of this change; all now need to know at what cost. I call this: “Sell before Proposal”.

Check all your outstanding proposals now with one solid but truth unearthing question: Why did the prospective customer request a proposal? Because they see they need to change from their current supplier and want to know to what cost they can gain such service or product from you? Or because they are after a better price than what they have now and do not see the real difference between you and your competitor? If you have not been able to differentiate well enough from your competitor, the customer may change over to you, but only at a better price.

So, fixing a weak pipeline is a matter of facing the truth. But if you do, your closing ratios will go up, and so does your commission.

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