Remember the old adage of the elevator sales rep?
The long and short of it is this: An elevator company hires a salesperson. He immediately identifies all of the new construction in his territory and goes after everything, relentlessly — only no opportunities move forward.
Naturally, he goes to his sales manager and asks, What gives? What am I doing wrong? After a little research, the sales manager sees that nearly 75% of those “qualified opportunities” are single-story buildings.
The moral of the story? Busy does not equal strategic — especially when it comes to prospecting, qualifying, and building a pipeline packed with winnable opportunities. While this advice may sound simple, it’s one of the hardest pills to swallow.
On the other hand, top performers figured this out a long time ago. They know that eliminating “no-decision” opportunities through continually qualifying prospects will lead to higher close rates. After all, of the three sales outcomes, the results are typically split evenly: roughly 1/3 of opportunities are won, 1/3 are lost and 1/3 result in a no-decision. Cut your no-decisions by 50%, and you could see a 7% increase in close rates.
The research confirms this. We partnered with Selling Power, surveying more than 150 B2B senior sales leaders to identify the mindsets, attributes and behaviors of top-performing salespeople — the results were striking.
When we asked sales leaders to identify how good their reps are at building a high-caliber pipeline, 66% rated their top performers at 7 or higher on a 10-point scale. By contrast, only 10% of sales leaders said their low and middle performers had the equivalent skills.
How can you avoid sinking countless hours into connecting, moving the relationship forward, and delivering demos only to encounter radio silence at the end of all that effort?
It comes down to separating the shoppers from the buyers. To do that, you’ll need to take an honest look at your pipeline and ask these questions:
- Should they buy from you?
Take a hard look at the prospect and consider where your organization has had success in the past. Is there a match in terms of industry, role or business challenges?
- Is it worth it?
Not every problem is worth solving. You must uncover and effectively communicate meaningful value throughout the sales process — that means giving them a compelling reason to change the status quo.
- Can they buy?
Are you targeting a prospect who has the authority to buy? If you’re not sure, ask your other contacts within the organization to help identify the actual decision-maker.
- When will they buy?
Moving prospects through the modern sales process is more about facilitating their buying process than anything else. Consider building a mutual plan to realize value that details exactly what will be required to bring about the impactful changes your solution can deliver.
Ultimately, the only constant is change. Economies fluctuate, business issues change, and decision-makers move on to new roles. By developing the discipline to treat qualification as an ongoing process instead of a discrete event, you will drive measurable results.
If you want to dive deeper into our research on the benefits of a rigorous qualification process, check out:
- “Your Sales Reps’ Top 3 Questions on Effective Qualification and Forecasting, Answered” in Training Industry
- Our upcoming webinar: "Creating a Prospecting Cadence to Drive Top-of-Funnel Revenue"
Until next time, happy selling,