The sales culture is ever-evolving, yet the aggressive approach has declined dramatically, creating issues central to accomplishing revenue plans. It is true, sales is more demanding with challenging complexity and reliance on technology, but many of the fundamentals have been lost along the way. It is now all too common to see the following chronic obstacles:
- Win Rates hovering around 20-25%
- Inaccurate forecasts
- Less than 50% of salespeople achieving their assigned plans
Funnel and pipeline management are keys to resolving these common ailments. There are only four activities to address when managing the funnel and the pipeline. We should be:
- Filling the funnel with new business opportunities.
- Moving opportunities in the funnel and positioning them for closure.
- Killing leads in the funnel that are not qualified.
- Closing opportunities that have progressed into the pipeline.
The biggest challenges for most sales organizations are filling and killing opportunities. To illustrate these points, let us examine the life of a shark.
Sharks and highly effective salespeople have several aggressive (but positive) characteristics in common.
Sharks have high levels of activity. They are in constant movement as they swim to move oxygen through their gills. High activity yields results. Effective salespeople have high levels of activity focused on creating new opportunities that they can place into the funnel. If the average funnel requires “3X” opportunities to their monthly/quarterly plan, a premium needs to be placed on generating new discussions, initial proposals, and new targets for access.
Sharks do not have a set time or hours. With technology, an effective salesperson can find opportunities to leave messages, engage in discussions, establish presentations, and multiply their ability to create attention. Do you have a hit list? Do you set aside time each week for new conversations with new people to share ideas which fill your funnel?
Sharks are very perceptive. They are the ultimate qualifiers. Ineffective salespeople hold onto opportunities that are not qualified. If a salesperson or organization is experiencing Win Rates below 60%, it is highly likely they are wasting time pursuing unqualified business. Salespeople, like sharks, need to make decisions based on established criteria to either pursue or avoid. Are you holding onto opportunities that have a low probability of closing and wasting your time?
Do you have an effective attack plan? Sharks certainly do. They determine the best strategy and execute it with precision. They are not deterred or distracted. Salespeople, like sharks, need laser focus on an opportunity. Be aggressive and do not allow fear, insecurity, or any other form of hesitation take you away from the goal.
It is imperative that anyone aspiring to become a sales shark needs to think and act in these ways. These fundamentals will lead you to the top of the sales food chain!
Make the commitment to become a sales shark. Create a list of 50-75 people or companies that you need to contact to initiate discussions. These discussions should involve sharing an idea that has the possibility of becoming an opportunity. The next step is to have a critical view of your existing pipeline and qualify each deal with a bias for killing opportunities that have a low probability of closing. The funnel should ultimately hold 3X your monthly/quarterly assigned plan.