Why Top Sales People Build And Maintain A Pipeline
Over the past month, I ran into a similar situation with two separate clients, one that quite frankly happens all too often with many companies and individual sales people.
What is the problem? An empty pipeline.
But rather than refer to this as a “problem,” I chose to go with “opportunity.” Both of these clients’ businesses are growing well above the norm, yet could be dramatically improved with zero increase in costs.
Whenever a business has sales people wearing multiple ‘hats,’ there is a danger to sales. That is, whenever hours are spent wearing the non-sales hat, that means the sales hat is set aside and opportunities are being squandered.
Let’s take the example of an industry I spent multiple decades in: the mortgage industry.
The typical compensation for sales people in the mortgage sector is 100% commission only, and the vast majority of loans close during the last week of the month. As such, many sales people—if not most—will spend the entire last week of the month, or more, babysitting their deals to the finish line so they can get paid on them the next pay period. Operations teams aren’t typically looking for such babysitting and often the sales people are more hindrance than help.
This may be bad enough, but the bigger issue is sales people being removed from the field where they can generate new business! By the end of the month, most of the pipeline has been closed or wiped out, and now each sales person needs to hustle in the next 2–3 weeks playing catch up to rebuild the pipe. Like clockwork, the end of month circus arrives once again and the insanity repeats itself.
Alternatively, if the sales team were to wear their primary hat, and stay in the field originating new business, both the company and the sales people would benefit financially in a big way. As added bonus, when competitors follow the same hectic babysitting and re-filling the pipe strategy, this leaves the doors wide open for access to prospects during that end-of-month period of time.
Industries infamous for taking such an approach are lawyers and accountants. Many are tasked with delivering the work for their clients and bringing in new business. Most would prefer focusing on the delivery of work and not selling. Often when ripe with a solid pipeline of business, many will actually hide behind the excuse of having to work on the product and steer their focus away from selling. Inevitably, the work dries up, and the panic selling approach appears again.
The key, then, is consistency. The pipeline of each sales person needs to be inspected at least once per month, and can be even better when inspected weekly. As well, keeping track of the hours planned and spent in the field procuring business on a sales person by sales person basis is essential. All of this should be detailed in the company Sales Playbook. Accountability is a must. Amongst my personal life, my business life, and my endurance sports life, I have a total of 14 “coaches” keeping me focused and holding me accountable.
Who is doing that in your organization? To you? To the sales team?
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