Who knew that Sean Combs (aka P Diddy) would send a message that stands the test of time? Five years later, and it is still “all about the Benjamins, what?” In a 2022 Gartner report, it ranked pipeline generation and sales development as the number one sales priority. Yet, we do not intentionally focus on that topic.
I want you to think about your weekly cadences with your sellers. What are you talking about? Dramatic pause… answer: What is in the pipe or what executive / solution / price you will put in front of the customer to win the deal. It might be the probability of winning, your competition, or what you NEED to win in the pipe to hit your numbers for the year.
If you happen to dedicate a few minutes to pipeline generation in your weekly check-ins, your rep feels obliged to prep for those five minutes on the backend. This may show up as a rapid share of how many LinkedIn messages, calls, and emails they proactively made to the customer that week. All hoping to avoid you asking questions before you hang up and jump on your next call. But is that relationship dynamics / habit really working? Are the pipes fuller and are the dollars really coming in?
If so, good for you. If not… it is time to reset for the rest of the year.
When we hit mid-year, the pressure subconsciously shifts to closing for year-end. We are often left with empty pipes for the turn of the calendar year. The harsh reality is that very little time is focused on how we are proactively driving opportunities into the pipe outside of the annual territory planning discussion when we say “go for it” with underwhelming results for the year.
What if you did something differently this year? What if you stood up to break the realistic but vicious autopilot cycle? What if you hit pause?
As a leader, it is critical you shift what the conversation is about. What you prioritize will get done. Reset with your team. Try these approaches:
- The more candid you are about not having been focused in this area, the more open and honest your team will be that they have not either.
- The conversation must be broached with complete honesty and no judgment.
- A great way to shift the tone might be to say, “I realize I have not intentionally driven our conversations around pipeline generation with the attention / creativity it deserves.”
- You must own the accountability as much as they do. If you did not set the expectation, you cannot expect it to be met.
It is tough to manage the business. You must rapidly respond to what is in front of you. Think about the questions from above, winning a key deal, or HR issues. So, if you have not been looking to the future growth and pipe development, then neither are your people… and that puts both of you at risk to not hit your numbers.
Your leadership behaviors are by far the greatest change agent in your organization. It takes a conscious effort to disrupt your own personal behavior change, but if you do, so will those you lead. Get out in front of next year’s pipeline. There is no time like the present! You are a force multiplier within your organization. You have been hand-selected to lead and drive a different sales outcome… and you can do it!
Change it up for this week’s cadence! Drop a note to your reps saying, “This week, I don’t want to talk about anything that is already in the pipe – let’s talk pre-pipe… and you don’t have to have all the answers!” Remember: no judgment on what they have been doing for pre-pipe generation.