Sales success might not always be easy, but it gets easier if your priorities empower you to work smarter and focus on a strategy that fits your current circumstances. Unfortunately, sales organizations and sales reps often have a singular focus on new business sales activity because it appears to offer the shortest route to drive sales revenue. The problem is, that approach isn’t always the best strategy. Let’s look at why new sales activity seems so alluring, but why this “shiny object syndrome” typically leads to far more dead ends than adjusting your strategy and putting your pipeline first:
Shiny Object Syndrome
In an age where the typical consumer is bombarded with thousands of marketing messages every day, short attention spans are the norm. So, it’s understandable that the Shiny Object Syndrome – or SOS – is also common. As it applies to our discussion of sales activity, the Shiny Object Syndrome relates to new prospects (high-quality or not) that always seem to be more attractive than qualified leads already in the pipeline. While this can be the appropriate strategy at times, to many reps an SOS prospect often seems like a boundless new opportunity ripe for the picking. In reality, however, not considering those prospects who might bear the best fruit (that is, to convert from prospect to customer) assumes that a new business sales activity is always the right approach. That approach, however, ignores the possibility that opportunities already identified and ranked within your CRM don’t compare to a new unidentified prospect. A better way is to consider the conversion potential that exists within your neglected pipeline first.
Is Your Sales Team Abandoning Your Strategy?
One underlying problem masked by chasing shiny objects could be a lack of confidence in your sales strategy. When your sales team members constantly abandon the strategy in favor of shiny object prospects, it may also indicate that your sales strategy is unclear or not well understood. The same could be true of your vision or mission. Whether it’s a lack of confidence, lack of communication, or lack of commitment, you’ve got a problem if your sales reps aren’t working a strategy that places value in first considering the potential of your pipeline.
All Sales Activity Is Good, Right?
While it could be argued that focusing on any sales activity is better than waiting for the phone to ring, the truth is that spending too much time on new sales activity (i.e., prospecting) can be one wild goose chase after another, with conversion rates far lower than might be expected from nurturing qualified leads already in the pipeline. Simply put, busywork for the sake of doing something can be unfocused, counterproductive and waste the energy and talents of your sales team.
New business activity is important, of course, in the right measure. In fact, it creates pipeline opportunities. But sales management narrowly focused on new business sales activity can also create many calls or meetings without truly advancing prospects in the pipeline toward conversion.
The better type of sales activity, of course, focuses on prospects most likely to buy – or at least buy more quickly. And again, if your pipeline is healthy, it probably already has those prospects in the system.
Are You Leading or Are You Lagging?
If your organization is lagging in sales conversions, chances are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in your CRM system are lagging indicators rather than leading indicators. Think of leading indicators as forward-looking markers that can give you a sense of the probably of closure along a future timeline. Lagging indicators, on the other hand, are backward-looking, after-the-fact measures that do little good when it comes to planning and forecasting sales activities. A well-designed and maintained CRM makes leading indicators easier to utilize.
Finding the Balance
In any organization, there should certainly be a balance between the effort expended to pursue new business prospects versus nurturing previously identified and qualified leads. If your pipeline is slim, your sales team will probably need to ramp up the focus on new sales activity, at least for a while, until the pipeline gets more robust.
Similarly, if you are behind quota pace, and your pipeline doesn’t show you will be able to catch up, you’ll need to augment the pipeline with more new business activity. A more attractive scenario arises when your team is ahead of quota pace and you have a robust pipeline. In that situation, your team can focus more on advancing or closing deals.
Finding the balance between new business activity and advancing/closing deals ultimately depends on what is currently in your pipeline, at what stage, and the probability-of-closure timeline.
The Bottom Line:
Focusing on new business sales activity while ignoring quality prospects in your current pipeline is shortsighted. If your company has a healthy pipeline, closing deals within the pipeline will likely be far easier than starting from scratch and hoping unqualified leads quickly become customers. Balance is important, of course, but sales success is usually easier if you first consider the value of your pipeline before committing to a long-term strategy that ignores your current status.
At Sales Xceleration, our roster of North American sales management consulting Advisors help clients create balance between nurturing a healthy pipeline and new sales activity. To connect with an Advisor in your area, click here, or contact us today at 844.874.7253.
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