In a recent sales manager training, several managers were voicing their frustrations about the number of sales which seem to get ‘stuck’ or even ‘disappear’ in their salespeople’s pipelines. I would have to say that for most sales motivated organizations this is one of the more common complaints or concerns that sales managers express.
And, given the pressure that everyone feels to consistently produce and improve sales I can certainly understand why.
What should be recognized is that even though concerns over sales funnel velocity and sales pipeline optimization are very common topics of distress, sales coaching managers would be best served to look more deeply at the critical selling missteps which actually cause deal life-cycle and sales disruption.
Through our experience at Learning Outsource Group we have determined that in order to improve sales funnel velocity we should first consider the common earlier warning signs of stalling sale velocity which are too frequently overlooked or misdiagnosed.
These common deal life-cycle selling warning signs may include:
• Not identifying where the customer is in their decision process and partnering with them at their decision speed
• Not questioning deeply enough and soon enough to uncover early customer perceived decision value or compelling reasons for customer purchase decision motivation
• Not identifying behind the scene Decision Influence Group members and uncovering their leveraged role or level of influence on the purchase decision
• Not creating the differentiation and competitive advantage needed to overcome competitive influences
The good news is that these issues can be improved with effective customer centric selling when combined with powerful sales management technique and sales coaching.
We recommend that if sales managers want to relieve or eliminate these selling issues they should begin by focusing on the following selling improvement opportunities:
1. Salespeople should focus on the customer and their decision process rather than traditional selling steps. Executive decision makers today want partners not vendors.
2. Understand that the customer perception of value and decision motivation is created when we diagnostically question to uncover the possible risk or cost of buyer inaction.
3. Ask questions to uncover Decision Influence Group members and better understand what their role and expectations are in the company decision process. More decision makers are leveraging internal and external decision resources in order to help them make fewer purchase decision mistakes.
4. Understand that competitive differentiation is the byproduct of:
• Differentiated selling behavior – Replacing traditional selling behaviors with true buyer improvement focused, customer centric selling behaviors
• Differentiated selling process – Base selling procedures and process on the customer and their decision process rather than on advancing the sale or traditional selling steps.
• Unique solution application to decision criteria alignment – Learn to ask customer stimulating questions which help them to quickly gain more confidence in purchase decision direction and unique solution applications.
• Motivated customer engagement – Partner with customers more quickly by helping them to uncover decision and purchase value earlier in their decision process and then work with them in their decision process in a cooperative rather than adversarial engagement.
By applying effective sales methodology and process coaching to common deal lifecycle management issues, sales managers can help salespeople dramatically improve their sales funnel velocity. But in order to do so, sales managers must address many of the traditional selling habits and sales coaching mistakes which create and perpetuate the problems.
As we have learned through working with more than 70,000 successful selling professionals and their leadership, even the most difficult selling issues can be resolved with the right sales manager operating system, sales coaching methodology, and sales management strategy toolkit.