In Sales, Lose Early to Win Faster!

Three weeks into Q4 and you are diligently executing on your sales plan(if not, go to this previous critical read).The pressure is on and perhaps you’re starting to feel compelled to keep every opportunity – good or bad – in your pipeline, trying the old “shotgun-approach” of pursuing everything and anything to make goal. The reality is that in sales, time is money and when you waste time chasing a bad deal, you can’t get that time back, nor can you get back the money you missed out on by not chasing the good deal.

Clean out your pipeline, now.

When run correctly, pipeline reviews continuously identify the good opportunities and the numbers of them you need to make quota, while exposing the bad opportunities that are dead weight and waste of time. Half of the battle is identifying the bad opportunities from the good, but the more challenging half is to take decisive action and remove the bad ones from the pipeline sooner rather than later.

So when do you really know “when” an opportunity is bad and needs to be canned?

To know when to remove a deal from the pipeline requires you to know what good looks like, to know what bad looks like and to possess an unbiased, objective qualification lens – all backed by a firm ”no bull$#it allowed in the pipeline” attitude.

If you lack any of these attributes, you will likely trick yourself into believing that you can turn the bad opportunities into good ones by just working them harder, thereby wasting more time and losing more money. It’s a vicious and self-perpetuating cycle and if you’re in it, you need to break it – now.

How do you identify the dead-weight, dead-end deals?

Some are easy to recognize such as the lead that turns out to be an MBA student doing research on your industry and products. However most are more difficult to identify, but here are some key tells for you to consider:

· Their budget is there, but the RFP was clearly prepared by a competitor

· Your product clearly solves their problem, but they drag their feet, stall, delay, waffle, etc

· You have connected with the prospect 10 times and each time the award date consistently moves out

· They want something for nothing and clearly undervalue your goods or services

Developing an unbiased qualification process that is aligned with your sales plan and your sales goals will provide you with an objective lens at a time when emotion and opinion should take a back seat. Leveraging your CRM to ask the objective questions and stack-rank the results will help you identify the best opportunities that are worthy of your time and effort, the mediocre ones that need to go back to marketing for nurturing and the bad ones that just need to be canned.

Remember, when it comes to wasting time on bad deals, it’s much better to find out quickly and lose early so you can focus all of your time and effort winning the good deals and making money.

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