Stop Focusing on the Top of the Pipeline!
By Dave Brock
Virtually every sales person and organization have pipeline/funnel problems. Almost all the time, they are anemic. Virtually every pipeline has quality and integrity issues. Likewise, there are too many velocity issues.
It seems the universal, go to, solution for bad pipelines is to find more qualified opportunities. That is, we need to focus at the top. We need to focus on prospecting, we need to develop and qualify new opportunities.
80% of the experts, the majority of blogs, say the same thing. Post after post, including many I’ve written, will pummel you with prospect, prospect, prospect! Google “prospecting” and you get over 39 million hits, Amazon has over 300 books on prospecting.
All of this focus is correct–to a point. Too many sales people have an aversion to prospecting. And that we do, tends to be done very badly. So there is huge room for improvement in prospecting and qualifying.
But I worry that filling the pipeline becomes almost the exclusive focus of too many sales initiatives. What good does filling the pipeline do if we squander opportunities by managing the qualified opportunities we have, poorly?
It’s interesting, so many managers and sales treat our pipeline metrics as a “given.” The win rates, average deal size, sales cycle are what they are. The way we improve results is to increase volumes, that means more prospecting.
But what if we analyzed the opportunities in the pipeline trying to achieve more with those we have?
For example, if we improve in any area, win rates, average deal size, sales cycle, pipeline integrity, it changes the prospecting requirements. We have to find and qualify fewer opportunities, and we make the best of those we find.
Rather than a knee jerk reaction to prospect more, let’s improve our execution on the deals we have already qualified. Let’s learn how to win more of those faster. Once we do that, we now have to find fewer new deals and we don’t squander those we find.
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