Why you shouldn’t annoy the pig

Thursday, May 2, 2019

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Sellers need to focus less on increasing the number of opportunities in their pipeline and become hyper-focused on increasing the percentage of opportunities in their pipeline that they can win.

A big sales pipeline is not always a positive.

Unless you take action, a large pipeline will be the biggest drag on your personal sales productivity.

You have to marshal your focus on your highest value prospects. You can’t spread your limited sales time equally across well-qualified sales opportunities and poorly qualified time-wasters that will never cross the finish line.

That’s not to say that sellers don’t try that.

I had one sales manager tell me recently that a big pipeline was okay because his sellers only spent their time selling to the “good prospects” and ignored the rest.

Then why haven’t you disqualified the “bad” prospects off your list?

“They’re our Plan B in case the good ones don’t close.”

Which meant his sellers were still investing time talking to the Plan Bs who were marginal prospects at best.

To give yourself the time to win more, you have to ruthlessly declutter your pipeline.

Two quick tips to help you.

First, quickly disqualify the obvious losers; those misfits that suck up your time and will never buy. The faster the better. You know who they are. Just because they’ll talk to you doesn’t mean you should be talking to them.

Second, ask yourself this simple question about each qualified opportunity in your pipeline: “Why am I going to win this deal?”

If you can’t identify two unambiguously rock-solid differentiators that have quantifiable value to that specific buyer (in terms of the outcomes they want to achieve), then the prospect isn’t a winning opportunity. (Yet.)

You might be a skilled salesperson. But, if you are trying to apply your skills to a prospect that’s a marginal fit for your product, then they aren’t going to work. What’s the point of that?

It’s like what Robert Heinlein, the famous science fiction writer once said about trying to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

Be smart. Focus on winning. Let someone else annoy the pig.

-Andy