This deal will close! I know it in my bones. I know it because they have asked for a demo. I know because they have asked for a presentation. I know it because they have asked for a proposal. This deal will close!
Does this train of thought mimic your pipeline or a pipe dream? Sounds more like a pipe dream to me.
We have all heard this. People buy
for their own reasons. They do not buy because you need a deal closed by the end of a quarter. (Albeit we have seen this happen!) They do not buy because you beg them to buy from you. (Even though that probably has worked with some as well!)
Pipeline or a pipe dream: how can you tell the difference? For those of you who have a formal sales process
, you probably have your customer’s buying process aligned with your sales process. And, if you are very fortunate, you have also identified the key verifiable outcomes or measures of success – those leading indicators that tell you where your client is in their
buying process. Such leading indicators can help you forecast more predictably, thereby alleviating any issue of pipeline or a pipe dream. Examples are many, but here are a few examples of leading indicators to guide you:
- The buyer shared clear business objectives
- The buyer shared how value is defined
- The buyer co-authors the RFP
- The buyer wants you to be part of the their internal selling process
- The buyer has validated detailed scope and requirements
- The buyer shared specifically how the decision is being made and on what basis
- The buyer co-authors the Sequence of Events document detailing how to get a deal done, by when and who is accountable; and is willing to review it on a regular basis
If you are forecasting based on what your sales person tells you or based on their gut, think about constructing a formal sales process that includes these leading indicators showing the customer’s level of buying engagement – and watch your forecasting go from a pipe dream to a true pipeline
Janice Mars, principal and founder of SalesLatitude, is a senior business and sales executive with more than 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales teams. She has parlayed that experience to help her clients to improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and attain consistent results.
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