Sales Tips: How to Start Your New Year Right
By Gary Walker, EVP of Channel Sales & Operations, CustomerCentric Selling®
I hope this was a good year. Sellers face a new year that likely includes higher quotas. Many take comfort in having large numbers of opportunities in their pipelines. Inadvertently their focus is on quantity rather than quality.
To avoid starting 2017 with unqualified pipelines, consider taking a hard look at quotes or proposals more than 60 days old. Proposals, like radioactive material, have half-lives. Probabilities of closing fade with every passing week. Rather than continue to hope stale proposals close, consider taking more decisive steps by withdrawing them. Buyers may be drifting toward ‘no decision’ or have already awarded the business to other vendors but haven’t told you. Shouldn’t you find out?
Consider sending return receipt requested withdrawal letters to prospects for proposals that have been out there too long. Each letter should merely state that you want to notify the buyer that you are withdrawing the proposal dated xx/xx/2016 and ask them to contact you if they have any questions. The two most likely outcomes:
- The prospect doesn’t contact you. You can assume another vendor was awarded the business or no decision was made. Remove that proposal from your pipeline.
- The prospect contacts you and explains where things stand with your proposal. During this conversation you may be able to rekindle interest in your offering with the possibility of issuing a revised quote or proposal.
One of the keys to getting off to a good start is to realistically grade your pipeline. Eliminating stale proposals in the next few weeks will allow you to realize if you have enough qualified opportunities. A Sales Benchmark Index study found 52% of sales cycles end in “no decision”. The most common reasons are:
- No business goals were uncovered
- No vision
- No value
- No access to power
- No plan for evaluating offerings was aligned with a prospect’s buying process
Be sure you have all bases covered if and when you issue proposals. I hope this can help you make 2017 a prosperous year.