By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®
Many sellers struggle to keep enough active opportunities in their pipelines. Immediately after completing workshops we suggest the first step is re-grading each seller’s funnel. Given that new qualification criteria must be applied, sellers have many opportunities that have stalled and there are quotes/proposals more than 60 days old where we usually see pipelines shrink by 50% or more. From there the effort lies in seeing if they can be qualified. If not, they have to be removed.
Sellers that struggle to make their numbers want to have as much as possible in their pipelines. The challenge is that qualifying opportunities should be an ongoing process. There are several events that have to take place to ensure a reasonable probability of winning the business. Unlike the PGA, no money is earned for coming in second place.
Within CustomerCentric Selling® some of the milestones are:
- Has a buyer shared a goal or problem they’re willing to spend money to achieve/address?
- Can a buyer articulate the barriers to achieving a goal and the capabilities to address them?
- Is there sufficient value to justify the expenditure?
- Can the buyer provide access to committee members that will be involved in the decision?
- After calling on the committee members, can the seller gain consensus that further evaluation of the offering is warranted?
- Can a written Sequence of Events define a timeframe for issuing a proposal as well as the steps needed to do so?
- Are the steps in the Sequence of Events being completed?
A CEO was attending a workshop I taught. At a break he came up and said his sellers had the bad habit of losing slowly. We discussed the fact that there is no worse outcome for a sales organization than to go the distance and lose. When that happens there were usually several red flags that were overlooked. In my mind, the most important aspects of qualification are that it be done on an ongoing basis and that milestones should be based upon buyer actions rather than seller opinions.
One of the core concepts of CustomerCentric Selling® is that: Bad news early is good news. When red flags present themselves sellers and managers should realize an option for them is to withdraw from the opportunity if they feel the chances of winning don’t merit spending any more time or effort.