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Some of the “opportunities” in your pipeline are dead. Or rather, they are undead. The undead, zombies if you will, look to be alive. They appear to be animated. They seem to always be moving.

But they’re not really alive. Neither are some of your opportunities.

It’s Dead.

It’s easy to hang on to dead opportunities. You know that your prospective client buys what you sell or may need to soon. You know many of the key stakeholders, many of whom are receptive to you. What’s more, you can’t help but believing that at some point and time, they are going to give you an opportunity to help them with something. Anything!

You continually make calls on these prospects. You visit with the really nice people that work there, and you have some very pleasant conversations. It feels like you are making progress and it feels like good work.

All of this can be true, and you can still not be looking at a live opportunity.

What’s Missing?

Most of the time, the opportunities in your pipeline that don’t really belong there are missing one or more of a few things. Without these missing ingredients, they are lifeless.

The biggest animator of an opportunity is a compelling reason to do something. It is dissatisfaction. Better still is dissatisfaction and impending doom.

Without enough dissatisfaction to compel your prospective client to move forward with whatever it is you sell, they aren’t likely to move forward. That means the opportunity sitting in your sales force automation is dead.

There are other reasons your opportunity may be a zombie. It may not even be qualified.

It may not be qualified because you may not be able to create enough value to be compelling. Your prospect may not value what it is that you sell. They may believe that you are a commodity. Their business may be unprofitable for you and your company. They may simply be some nice, receptive people that like to talk. Or, you may not be in a position to win; maybe you don’t have the relationships.

If your opportunity isn’t really alive, you have two choices. You can bury it, or you can bring it back to life.

They Need Your Brains

Zombie opportunities need your brains. You either kill the opportunity, or you find a way to breathe life into it.

It takes brains to know when to let go, when to kill the opportunity. If the opportunity should have been disqualified, then disqualify it and be done with it. Don’t waste your time on a non-opportunity; you don’t have enough time. Bury it.

But if the opportunity really is a potential opportunity but is missing something, like a compelling reason to move, then you need to do something about it. You need to use your brain to get in front of your prospective client contacts and gain agreement around some compelling reason to move forward. You must gain the commitments that will bring your non-opportunity to life and turn it into something more.

Don’t let your zombie opportunity stumble around from quarter to quarter with you suggesting that it’s really a live deal. Bring it to life, or bury it.


What is it that opportunities are missing that prevents them from being real opportunities?

Why is it so difficult to accept that an opportunity isn’t really an opportunity and that it should have been disqualified?

Are you really better off having zombie opportunities in your pipeline, even though they are not going to result in a won deal?

What would you have to do to abandon the non-opportunities in your pipeline with confidence? Would possessing and pursuing real opportunities make it easier?

If non-opportunities aren’t really opportunities, what could you do to breathe life into them and make them real?

Sales 2012
Post by Anthony Iannarino on February 25, 2012

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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