Most CEOs are well aware of the costs associated with generating new customers. Few, however, are able to accurately predict exactly when those potential customers will become actual customers. That’s a real problem for CEOs who want to significantly grow revenue and are faced with inaccurate, stagnant, and bloated pipelines that are less reliable than the local weather report.
There is a famous quote by John Wanamaker about half the money spent on advertising being wasted and not knowing which half. The same philosophy can be attributed to your sales pipeline. It’s probably at least half wrong; the problem is most CEOs don’t know which half is wrong. And to add insult to injury, the entire organizational structure they have created is inadvertently conspiring against them in their quest to harness the power of good data to make informed decisions that move them closer to their goals and objectives.
One of our clients compared it to playing a game of football with an invisible ball. I thought that was a good analogy and would add that the yard lines have also disappeared because the players and coaches are playing the game blindfolded. Imagine for a moment not being able to see exactly where you need to go to reach the next down. What about not being able to find the football? Are you even facing in the right direction? How do you feel even thinking about having to play like this?
Anxious? Frustrated? Discouraged? Stalled? Defeated? You wouldn’t last ten minutes playing the game like that, much less win it. It would be chaos and soon the rules would change to accommodate your lack of information – just like in your sales departments. We call that The Tail Wagging the Dog School of Management.
When the data is unreliable, salespeople start throwing things against the wall to see if they’ll stick. Unfortunately for you, sometimes they do and now the real problems ensue.
Problems like salespeople:
sandbagging in an effort to make their numbers look better
skipping steps to push less than ideal sales through
providing quotes and proposals before a prospect has been fully qualified
spending too much time with people who aren’t prospects
cutting your price unnecessarily
following your prospect’s buying process because you don’t have a formal selling process
entering unqualified opportunities in the pipeline
Then management problems ensue, like:
CEOs and managers arbitrarily discounting the value of the pipeline data to compensate for its inaccuracy
Sales departments coming to erroneous conclusions about why you won certain deals
Sales departments coming to erroneous conclusions about why you lost certain deals
Operations not being able to maintain proper inventory levels
Great football players and teams always know where they are; in relation to their objectives, in relation to their next play, in relation to their opponent. Great sales teams and salespeople do too. You’d never consider driving from Denver to Atlanta without a map. In fact, you’d probably use a GPS system to get there. Well, that’s precisely what you need for your business: a sales GPS system. This is found in your sales process. The acronym GPS works well if the process is good enough and if it is well executed: Guaranteed to Produce Sales
GPS Rule: Always know where you are so you can plan where to go from there.
You can measure the effectiveness of your sales process here.
If you don’t know where you are, how can you possibly know how to get to where you want to go? If your sales managers are blindfolded, how can they effectively coach the sales team through the correct plays to move the proverbial sales ball down the field and into the end zone? Yet, day after day, week after week, quarter after dismal quarter, CEOs allow their organizations to play the game of sales with blindfolds on their eyes. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Take the blinders off and evaluate your people, systems, processes and strategies. Are they in alignment? What impact is sales leadership having on the sales team? Which of your salespeople can and will sell for you? Should you change your recruitment selection criteria? Where is the low-hanging fruit that, if you had the ability to pick it today, could yield 30-60% growth in the next 12-18 months, instead of the 5-9% you’re likely experiencing now?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share your comments below or send me an email at [email protected]
© Copyright Cheryl Powers All Rights Reserved
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