Increasing sales sounds like an easily understandable – if not always easy to achieve – goal. More sales, more revenue, more profit, right? Sales is, after all, a numbers game. But those numbers must be built on healthy business relationships that flow from a healthy sales pipeline. They can only be built by spending quality time with quality prospects and turning those prospects into quality customers. The key word, of course, is “quality”.
Simply put, if you spend too much time and energy chasing deals that are unlikely to close, you’ll miss opportunities to maximize sales revenue. But as reasonable as this sounds, too many salespeople still spend too much time chasing questionable deals. Here’s why that’s true, and how to keep it from devastating your sales results:
The Problem with the Numbers Game
On the surface, the numbers game seems simple enough: Keep enough deals in play in the sales funnel and sooner or later enough of those deals will close. More is better, right? It would seem logical to believe that every deal should stay in the pipeline if it still has a chance of closing, wouldn’t it? Indeed, maybe this would be a reasonable approach if all sales prospects were equal. If the effort to close one deal were exactly the same as the effort required for every other deal. If the value of each deal were the same. Of course, this is not the case. Not all deals are equal. Not all prospects are the same. Not all bottom lines are equally lucrative. And yet, many salespeople approach the numbers as if each sales situation – and each desired outcome – were identical.
Of course, this is crazy! But it still seems to be a common attitude – for both salespeople and Sales Managers – especially near the end of a sales period.
Because all deals, and the efforts required to close them, are NOT equal, salespeople and Sales Managers should look for signs their effort is being misdirected. Here are some warning signs to heed in order to avoid spending too much time on deals going nowhere:
- The prospect keeps deferring a decision, even though they claim to be the decision maker
- The prospect focuses only on the cost to purchase your product or service versus the value your solution provides
- The prospect keeps asking for more and more information when the overall deal isn’t large enough to warrant such micro-analysis
- The prospect leaves you frustrated and exhausted every time you have a meeting or discussion
- The prospect commands a disproportionate amount of your time even though the value of the deal doesn’t match the effort you are putting in
All this adds up to a prospect who is high maintenance, and who will probably suck the life out of you even if (and it’s a BIG if) the deal ever closes.
For Increasing Sales, “No” is the Second Best Answer
As I note in my book, Beyond the Mountaintop: Observations on Selling, Living and Achieving, the second best answer a prospect can give you is “no.” While it’s true that in commission-driven sales, you need “yes” in order to earn additional income, it’s also true that the sooner a bad prospect says “no”, the sooner you can move on to spending your time nurturing a better deal.
The key is to avoid getting stuck in “maybeland.” While “yes” is the best answer and “no” is the second-best answer, “maybeland” is the worst place to be in the sales process. Getting stuck there typically happens because 1) the prospect may not truly understand how you can assist them, or 2) they are not really a qualified prospect, or 3) they are busy and have other priorities, or 4) they are just trying to be nice and don’t want to let you down by actually saying “no.”
At some point, to escape “maybeland”, the prospect will need to understand that it’s okay to say “no”. Indeed, saying “no” may be the only way to get the deal unstuck and shift the dialogue toward uncovering and overcoming the real objections. So, whether “no” helps you move on to a better sales prospect more quickly or empowers you to find and resolve the real concern, it ultimately saves time and leads to new opportunities.
A Better Way
Of course, much of a salesperson’s wasted time and effort could be avoided if the pipeline is of higher quality (there’s that word again). If better discovery and questioning are in place. If better qualification of good prospects are the norm. If a defined sales process is integrated into your CRM to deliver meaningful and actionable data. And if Sales Management looks beyond short-term quotas and focuses more on long-term results.
Counterintuitive as it may be, the best sales organizations – from salespeople to Sales Managers – know that increasing sales is possible if you are willing to walk away more frequently. The confidence to do this starts with knowing that not all prospects are created equal. With knowing that “no” is a better answer than an endless string of “maybes”. And knowing that stalled deals stand in the way of new opportunities. Our licensed Advisors at Sales Xceleration have this knowledge and know how to work with Sales Managers and small business owners to create sales environments where increasing sales are the norm. To learn more, contact us today at 844.874.7253.