Sales Management Blog

Sales management tips and advice on how to improve your sales team.

Reduce the Fluffy Pipeline Syndrome

Posted by Gretchen Gordon on Thu, Jun 06, 2013 @09:10 PM

Okay, so if you are monitoring your salespeople’s pipelines then that is a start. Many managers focus on getting opportunities into the pipeline. This is also a start. If you want to be ultimately effective predicting closings and therefore revenue growth then you need to stop focusing on the pipeline value and focus on the pipeline velocity. What I mean is that salespeople will typically behave in a manner that provides them reward and/or recognition.  Many salespeople seek the approval and recognition of their managers. If you are focusing on patting people on the back for putting deals into the pipeline then that is what they will do.  Their pipelines will become bloated and closings will not necessarily follow.

could_your_sales_pipeline_be_a_bit_fluffy

Certainly getting deals into the pipeline is a first step. But, you’ve got to have a process to help them manage the deal once it gets into the pipeline. I would suggest three simple rules:

  1. Get your folks to do the math associated with how many appointments, conversations and/or meetings they need to have each week to get the requisite number of deals into the pipeline to ensure sales success.  This obviously requires that you and they understand the closing ratios associated with your business and each individual salesperson.
  2. Have them focus on moving a certain number of deals each day.  Question them regarding what deals they are going to focus on to move each week.  The number that needs to move to the next stage each week or day will depend on your individual business.  If the pipeline is getting thick, then declare a “Move It or Blow It Up Day”.  Require every salesperson to focus on each deal in the pipeline and move it or blow it up.  Remove dead wood from the pipeline.  Fluffy pipelines make salespeople complacent, as they believe they have plenty of deals in the pipeline.   Deals that hang around and hang around with no movement are sales killers.  They give the salesperson a false sense of security so they are less inclined to go and get new deals.
  3. Be a stickler about, every deal must have an agreed to next step.  The key is that it must be agreed to buy the customer or prospect, not just a plan by the salesperson.  What I mean is that for every single deal there needs to be a date and time for a follow-up appointment or some agreed to activity, with specifics, for each deal.  Just simply ask each salesperson each week what the agreed to next step is for each deal in their pipeline.  If you can get them in the habit of having this agreed to next step, your pipeline will show good velocity, more deals will close more quickly and everybody will make more money.

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Tags: Sales Management, Sales Growth, Sales Force Effectiveness, For Sales Managers, By Gretchen Gordon

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