As a sales person, you live and die by your pipeline – always trying to fill it with deals that have a high percentage chance of closing so you can crush your quota. And, you tend to look at our pipelines year by year with the goal of making or exceeding quota. But this proverbial, annual rinse-and-repeat pipeline exercise is a bad habit that can lead to missed opportunities for future sales.
How you manage your time is directly correlated to your success: making sure you maximize your time (or your customers’), build a quality pipeline, meet with key stakeholders to best understand their goals and priorities, manage key sales activities and close dates – and so much more that’s tied to the clock and the calendar. Here are 5 tips to ensure you’re spending your precious time working and closing deals the right way, while also setting a solid foundation for future deals.
By asking the tough questions early on, you can find out if your products and services help solve the priority business outcome the customer is trying to achieve and who cares about it – I mean really cares. And you can understand the customer’s timeline and why that timeline is important to them.
How many times have you forecasted a deal based on your quarterly or annual timeline (not the customers’ or prospects’ timeline) where you were frantically trying to close it without any compelling event tied to it? You could probably give it away and they still wouldn’t buy now. Why? There could be many reasons, but it’s more likely that they have other priority or competing projects to work on, which is where their time, money and resources are going right now.
Try to figure out EARLY if you can actually win the deals in your pipeline. If you ask the tough questions and find the compelling event early on – versus rushing to a demo or providing a proposal too quickly – then it’s true that you may lose early. However, qualifying out of deals early is not a bad thing. It ensures that you maximize your time, and your precious internal resources’ time, on the deals you have a better chance of closing.
Proactively plan how you’re going to strategically spend your time on your accounts or territories by looking 3 years down the road. By adopting a strategic sales planning approach, you’ll be able to maximize your time and continue to build/validate your pipeline with quality deals based on where your customers/prospects are spending their time, money and resources.
The earlier your sales management gets involved with potential deals, the better chance you have to crush your quota. When sales managers are involved early on, they can be an additional resource to help you get out of the weeds. Get your management connected with your customer’s or prospect’s management team early, so that gaps in your knowledge about executive priorities, compelling events and critical timelines can be shored up and confirmed. This will also enables you and your sales team to garner additional support when dealing with any risks, barriers or limitations you’re experiencing, address them sooner rather than later, and maximize everyone’s time.
Top sales performers have all this down pat. They don’t look at their pipelines linearly by focusing only on a single year. They fill their pipelines based on their customer’s needs and priorities, and know where their customers are spending their time, money and resources. Their view of their pipeline is bigger than them or their quota. So, what do these top performers do exactly? They:
As a sales professional, your job is to stay focused, crush your quota and other MBOs, and manage your time wisely. But it’s just as important to understand that your customers are likely experiencing the exact same craziness. Remember to cut through the bull, think strategically and stay focused on the customer to build and protect your short-, medium- and long-term deals. How do you fuel your pipeline with quality deals and crush your quota?