Have you ever come home late from work to search your fridge only to find out that the meat, vegetable or cheese you were looking for has gone bad? The whole journey home consisted of what sauce you were going to knock up to accompany this tasty dish, surely you would be disappointed, right? Like cooking, freshness is key when whipping up solid sales results. You can be sure that nothing goes bad with a process in place for planning and monitoring your time.
Opportunities can go bad for many reasons, prospects not responding to you as expected, sales professionals not taking those vital next steps fast enough, loss of focus or even everyday work load. In your day to day activities, some opportunities in your pipeline may have gone stale or even started to mould. Most prospective opportunities, like food, all have a shelf life.
How can we avoid opportunity mould?
Opportunity mould is a common problem among busy sales professionals but you need not worry. If you look closely at the average time it takes for to close opportunities, or move to the next stage, here you can assess if your deal is fresh or starting to mould.
SET’s expected close date feature lets you identify which deals are lingering in a certain stage of your sales pipeline for too long.
Just as no one would buy food with the idea of it not getting cooked, sales professionals don’t carry out their sales activities thinking that potential opportunities will mould. If this starts to happen, these opportunities require maintenance. You can achieve this by giving each deal an expected close date so you can measure the relative freshness of the opportunity. If there is a good relationship with the prospect you might just be able to save that opportunity and after the missed deadline. Other opportunities may need to be re-evaluated. When opportunities begin to mould, you will be able see where you are taking more time than usual and need to move forward.
SET’s expected close date feature is designed to act as a visual reminder that your opportunities have not been touched for a while and could use some attention. This tactic gives you clear visibility into your sales flow, leading to much shorter average closing times and increased productivity to push through more sales.
A top chef is pretty similar to a top sales professional. This applies to cooking the food well and then serving the customer within a reasonable amount of time. With sales professionals, it’s also important to set expectations and deadlines which are feasible. You wouldn’t set an expected close date too soon as rushing a sale could chase your prospects away. On the other hand, if you wait too long the prospect’s interest and your opportunity to close could then be lost. You may be sitting on ‘pipe dreams’ only to find out your potential opportunity is wilting and starting to mould. Setting an accurate expected close date based on your sales cycle will allow you to see what you have to work with and what takes priority. Every week take the time out to review all open opportunities in your pipeline at the same time as reviewing the lost deals from the previous week to gain a better understanding of the next actions you need to take.
Although the time it takes to complete the sales cycle varies, it’s vital to understand if an opportunity is still fresh. Being able to have visibility into an opportunity will help you allocate resources and time. With food, when it starts to spoil we can see the consequences of letting food go mouldy as it looks unattractive as its time begins to pass. Likewise, with opportunities in your sales pipeline, to have a healthy sales pipeline you need to know the state of the opportunities in progress.
It’s important that you don’t waste time on opportunities that are unlikely to close or any opportunity that could spoil it for the rest of the team. If too much of your pipeline is moulding away, you need to focus on the fresh leads you have more chance of closing.
Our top tips for improving your sales performance would be;
- Set clear and realistic time expectations
- Track the opportunities that are at risk of moulding
- Clear out the mouldy opportunities
- Fill up your pipeline with fresh leads consistently
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