This time of year it is easy to get distracted from your goals in sales of working to create new sales opportunities and then moving them forward to closure.
When I say “create” it is not as simple as it sounds – because buyers have a buyers’ journey and a seller typically may find ways to jump in and collaborate for a mutual win – but a seller cannot simply use his or her own agenda to bring business to closure.
That means a couple of things:
You need many more opportunities than you think in order for enough business to come to closure
That deal you are SURE will happen doesn’t, and the one that seemed remote actually does.
My biggest errors in sales come from not qualifying an opportunity sooner. It happens a lot with others too.
Jerry (not his real name) is an AE who was working to hit quota by the end of the year and was at 75% with 3 months to go. He had 3 potential deals – all of which, we realized as we went through each opportunity – were not qualified.
The easiest way to have better qualified deals is to qualify in the beginning as you go. If you are not talking to the decision maker, find out at least how their process works and see who can answer the more visionary questions you should have about why they are interested in buying.
By qualifying sooner, you can get a QUICK NO – meaning that this opportunity may not be a good fit for you or your company, so you can both part ways sooner and save your valuable time.
Time for sellers is like money – even more valuable – because you cannot ever get it back.
By qualifying sooner, you can get a QUICKER YES – it is an opportunity you know you can help the buyer with and it will be a good win for your company.
This is a long-standing strategy to accomplish what is important – called time-chunking.
Make time EVERYDAY to focus on moving existing opportunities forward. Who needs to be called? What questions have you not answered yet to ensure this is a qualified opportunity? How can you get back on one of your prospective buyers’ radar?
Create a block of time to do this. I use the morning – when I am the sharpest. It is a daily habit where your entire FOCUS is on moving what is in your sales pipeline forward.
Use a different block of time to develop NEW potential sales opportunities.
If you have these two blocks – or chunks – of time set aside, you will be doing the most important pieces of your job description. Your job, if you are in a sales role – is to identify and help move sales opportunities forward. It is also to rule out opportunities that do not qualify, so you can save precious hours that can be used for other, high-value sales activities.
Sales reps as it is spend about 2/3 of their time working on non-sales activities – be different – be focused – be valuable by working to identify and move sales opportunities forward throughout your day.
If you were wondering what happened to Jerry, the rep I was coaching - he had to go back and further qualify his three big deals and found that one of them was NOT qualified. He identified another potential deal and two of these three came to closure. Jerry hit not only his quota but his stretch goal due to analyzing where he was at and what he needed to do in better qualifying.
Do it for yourself.
Block it out.
Make it happen.
Lori Richardson helps mid-sized companies grow revenues by solving key issues in their sales department - like recruiting, retention, diversity hiring, process, pipeline and leadership. She speaks at CEO groups on topics of sales growth. Clients include companies in the technology, telecom, manufacturing, distribution, and professional services industries. Subscribe to the award-winning blog, follow her on Twitter
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