For those sales people who are midway through your fiscal year – or for any sales person at any time, for that matter – are you asking yourself, “how real is my sales pipeline?” I know many of you look at your pipeline to see if you have met that infamous 2x quota or 3x quota. But why is that the significant barometer? Who cares if your pipeline is 2x or 3x quota, if it is not even real? And, how do you know that your pipeline will get you to your quota goal or, better yet, exceed it?
There are a few simple ways to determine the quality or reality of your sales pipeline. Take a look and see if you would remove or adjust a deal in the pipeline if:
- the deal is hundreds of days old
- you’ve changed the close date multiple times
- your management has told you to close earlier than humanly possible (aka, the buyer cannot and will not buy in your management’s time-frame)
- you’ve never been able to get to the true decision maker(s)
- your management has not been able to get to the true decision maker(s)
- the buyer will talk to you to get information (via a demo or a proposal you prepare and present), but they will not give you any information, even when you ask them to
- the buyer rarely returns your calls
- the buyer rarely meets the deadlines they establish and agree to
You have all seen this before. You put deals in your pipeline that are a hope and a prayer, based solely on the fact that someone at some level of the organization wants to talk to you or takes your call/meeting, so it goes right into the pipeline. There is little to no qualification, little to no understanding of executive goals and priorities, little to no reason the deal should even be in your pipeline.
I know it’s scary to have a pipeline that is less than your quota, but it would be much better to have a pipeline that is real. The alternative is to have a robust-looking pipeline, lulling you into a false sense of security, where little to none of the deals close and you spend way too much time trying to make it happen. Dare to ask the question, “how real is my sales pipeline?” It’s better to spend your time, and others’ time, where it counts!
Janice 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