hope and a prayerDo you know what I mean by 450 days of hoping and praying? Think about it. Do you have deals in your pipeline that have been there forever? 450 days makes perfect sense if the average length of your sales cycle is multiple years. And, there are plenty of sales people who sell very large complex global solutions where the sales cycle is a few years. However, most of us do not have sales cycles that long.

Since I am a “glass half full” type of person, I know that sometimes you optimistically put deals in the pipeline too early. For sales management, that can be either a blessing or a curse. It’s a blessing since you did not sandbag and drop it in the pipeline the day before or the day you closed the deal! It’s a curse since you have it in your pipeline and it is inflating your pipeline-to-close ratio. Your ratio of what’s in your pipeline versus your quota is on track; however, it’s a false sense of security since the deal may be or not be real. And, it may be neither a blessing nor a curse. You may just have entered it into the pipeline too early. You knew it was a potential deal but it was not qualified and the buyer was not ready to start their buying process.

450 days of hoping and praying. I am talking about those sales people who are convinced it will close. Week after week, month after month, quarter after quarter – they tell their management it will close. The date keeps moving but it will close. The buyer is not as engaged as the sales rep and his or her team, but it will close. (Note to sales management: Wake up!)

Sound familiar? 450 days of hoping and praying. 450 days, 500 days, 600 days – when will it end?

Look in the mirror and be honest with yourself. Are you one of those people who has deals in your pipeline that will never close? If yes, get them out of there and fill your pipeline with real deals – ones where the buyer is actually engaged and sees your products and services as a way to get them to their desired goals. No one wins deals based on a hope and a prayer.

Janice MarsJanice Mars, principal and founder of SalesLatitude, is a senior business and sales executive with more than 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales teams. She has parlayed that experience to help her clients to improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and attain consistent results. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter