Do you have things that are stalled in your sales pipeline?
Do you have opportunities in that pipeline that’ve been there way too long?
Or they've stopped progress all together and you're trying to figure out how to get them started again?
It's a very common situation with pipelines. Most pipelines have some bloat in them, and most of pipelines have stuff that shouldn't be in there. I'm as guilty as anyone. Once you have an opportunity, it's really hard to close the file and let it go. The more critical an eye you can have on your pipeline, the better.
A couple of thoughts on this.
First, ask yourself ‘should it even have entered the pipeline in the first place?’
It’s really tempting when you have an opportunity, even if you haven't really qualified the opportunity well with pain, budget, and decision, to put them in the pipeline. Then that opportunity becomes stalled. But if you were really to look back at it, it never should have been in the pipeline.
Second, if it SHOULD have entered the pipeline, ask yourself ‘why is it stalled now?’
Be very critical of if it should be there? But if it entered the pipeline and it WAS qualified, there's most likely one of two reasons why it's stalled that I have found.
1.) Their pain has changed, they're not committed to it or they need to be reminded of the pain. They have forgotten about the impact or consequences that led it to even being an opportunity for you. The way to fix that is to go back to them and basically start with, “Hey, can we just review some of the things we talked about up until this point, just so we're on the same page as to where we are going forward?”
Then do a pain review. Go through the problem and the reasons they discussed at the start and the consequences/impact. Ask them some tough questions.
‘Is this still a problem for you?’
‘Are you still committed to fixing it?’
You’d even go negative and say, ‘I get the feeling that you've got other things on your plate and this isn't that big of a challenge anymore. So why don't we just put this on the back burner and look at it in a year.’
Find your own word track, but some form of challenging the pain or bringing them back to the issue.
2.) The decision-making processes has changed. Many times, the cast of characters has changed. Someone new has entered the organization; Someone from another department who is an influencer has now gotten into the process or within the decision step of the Sandler system. It could have been that their timetable has changed. It could be that their criteria for how they're going to make a decision has changed.
The way to fix this is to go back and do a full review of their decision-making process.
Who's in the process?
When is it going to happen?
What's the overall process?
How were they making a decision?
Use all the classic journalism questions, go back and revisit.
See, the thing with pipeline is that the ‘close’ is really in the qualification. The ‘close’ is in pain, budget, and decision. If it's stalled, and if you really want to get it moving, you’ve got to get them back to the key motivators and qualifiers to determine if it should be in the pipeline. View the submarine as an ongoing process, not just something you do in the beginning before something enters the pipeline.
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