Virtually every organization I know is struggling with making their numbers. Every sales person, manager, executive inevitably says: “We need to make our numbers, we need more wins, we need more in our pipelines!”
Inevitably programs du jour are launched. Sales people are told, “Get more into your pipeline.” They’re told to prospect, we start counting prospecting conversations, and counting pipeline deals.
Inevitably pipelines grow—every self respecting sales person can always get more in their pipeline. Tell me the number you want, I will make it 100% of the time–I’ll even overachieve that goal. But I may be filling my pipeline with crap!
And that’s where the problem is, we are asking the wrong thing. What do more opportunities in our pipelines mean if the quality of those opportunities have plummeted?
If I double the number of deals in my pipeline, but my win rate goes down by 50%–nothing’s changed–except for at least doubling workload. Even worse, because we’ve increased the pipeline volume, the unintended consequence of adding to the workloads is we spend less time on the high quality deals! So our results plummet.
It’s counter-intuitive, but less may actually be more.
What if instead of looking at pipeline volume we focus on pipeline quality? What if we refuse to let anything but the highest quality deals into our pipeline?
Our win rates would sky rocket! As our win rates sky rocket, the number of deals we have to chase to make our numbers decline.
Rather than focusing on getting more deals–relaxing our qualification standards, what if we got tougher. We should start viciously disqualifying deals that aren’t in our sweet spot. The deals that make it through are the deals that we have a higher ability to win. If I increase deal quality, double my win rate, I only have to chase half the number of deals I did in the past. I could focus my time on those very high quality deals, maximizing my win rates.
Too often, when I look at organizations that have very low win rates and are struggling to make their numbers, the answers are right there in the pipeline. They are chasing the wrong deals! The fix is easy, Just Say No! Some of them may be in your sweet spot, but not qualified–nurture those but don’t pollute your pipeline. Some are way outside your sweet spot and were qualified through desperation (my manager is beating me up for more opportunities) or wishful thinking. Get rid of them! They are wasting your time and the customers’ times.
Focusing on pipeline quality and vicious disqualification is the fastest way to improve your win rates. It may not get you all the way there–you have to develop and execute winning strategies, but you’d be amazed at how much simpler it gets to making your numbers.
Note to self: Be careful of Trumpism’s in future posts. Stop talking about Sky Rocketing, Plummeting and how Fantastic things are 😉