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Confusing Activity with Progress

Sales Training Article: Confusing Activity with Progress

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company

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sales training companyOne of the major differences of sellers that will deliver their quota and those that can’t is having an understanding of the difference between activity and progress in opportunities. Much of this has to do with qualifying (or disqualifying buyers) whether applying organizational milestones or allowing each seller to decide how to grade opportunities.

At their core, sellers want to have pipelines that appear capable of yielding quota or better. Those that perform at high levels realize they shouldn’t waste time with opportunities and buyers that have low probabilities of resulting in orders within a reasonable time frame (an average buying cycle). Early in my career, I spent time with buyers that were willing to meet on an ongoing basis, but had no intention of buying. The earlier in the pipeline sellers can disqualify such buyers, the better.

Organizations face the same challenge. While not nearly as pervasive as they were, many companies relied upon trade shows as a way to identify new opportunities. Large sums of money were spent on trade show booths where the vast majority of the audience consisted of mid to low-level staff incapable of allocating unbudgeted funds to new initiatives. “Bingo cards” meant sellers spent a great deal of time following up. In doing so, those that gained traction were starting sales cycles at very low levels. The net result of these trade shows was general awareness of the company and its offerings but little positive impact on each seller’s pipeline.

History has a way of repeating itself and while trade shows have faded, many vendors rely very heavily upon web site activities to build pipeline. Painting with a broad brush, my belief is that a high percentage of visitors to websites are a similar demographic to attendees to trade shows. Their interest is likely to be more in your offerings rather than business outcomes that can be achieved through their usage. Unlike trade shows, the cost of nurturing and grading buyers is minimal, but once sellers are involved that changes dramatically. If sellers start at relatively low levels, it is important to try to identify potential business issues and value and gain access to higher levels early in the process.


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