From quite early on, in our sales careers, we are encouraged to explore every sales opportunity that presents itself – in fact, in some companies, they are brainwashed into believing that “all business is good business.”
And of course, if we do not challenge this fallacy, simply because we don’t know any better – we are on the first rung of the ladder.
We are anxious to make our mark, get “runs on the board” and impress our manager – even our colleagues. At this point in our careers, our naivety sustains us and, in some perverse way, insulates us from the harsh realities of the sales environment – but only momentarily…
Maybe all new sales professionals should memorize this statement: “Selling is the most exciting, the most invigorating and the most rewarding career in the world – if you are selling well“
Gradually, as we ascend that sales success ladder, we experience a life-changing epiphany – well, those of us that become successful do – and it dawns on us that actually, it takes just as long to progress an opportunity that has no chance of closing, through the various funnels and pipelines, as it does a profitable and closable one. We even manage to work out that, whilst we are spending so much time on unwinnable business, we are letting winnable business slip through our fingers due to a lack of time and attention.
It isn’t rocket science, but our ability to determine which is which early in the sales/buying cycle, could ultimately decide just how far we progress up that aforementioned sales ladder, because, be assured, the very best frontline sales professionals – the top 5% – always position themselves with the real decision-makers and avoid those without “approval power.” They are able to first identify, and then access, the formal decision making unit.
They are also able to readily identify and know how to deal with the four different buying influences present in every sale. They understand how to prevent sales from being sabotaged by an internal enemy. They insulate themselves by developing strong allies within.
Finally, they are able to recognize fail-safe signals that indicate when a sale is in jeopardy. This comes from experience, but also information supplied by their allies.
But, most important of all, they are rigorous in tracking account progress and are able to accurately forecast future sales, because they use proven methodology which allows them to realistically weight every opportunity in the pipeline.
So, do you think that if you re-examined your pipeline today, and you had to wager your house on those opportunities that will really happen, you could do so? Or are you happy to continue playing the numbers game?
Do try to spot the “golden eggs” in your basket – and encourage them to hatch – it will be worth it, I promise you!
Jonathan Farrington's blog