- Most sales teams miss their goals because they are creating too few opportunities to fill their pipeline.
- The world has constant disruptive change and you can expect your clients to have a tougher time committing to change. Sales conversations are now more nonlinear and require a greater sense of consensus from stakeholders.
- Time with no positive action kills deals. In sales, doing something tomorrow isn’t the same as doing something today.
One of the most difficult factors in creating growth is time constraints. Just looking at quarterly and annual goals generates pressure to create a result on or before a certain date. Even when you have the very best of intentions, times a factor in some challenges that prevent you from reaching your goal.
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Too Few Opportunities Created
For sales leaders and sales organizations, the first and most straightforward temporal challenge is creating enough opportunities within the time they need to be initiated. When too few opportunities are created, you get is a deficit of deals that can be effectively pursued and won. The focus most sales leaders place on winning opportunities almost invariably exceeds their focus and interest on opportunity creation, a poor approach that places these outcomes exactly backwards.
One reason sales leaders focus on deal strategy and opportunity reviews is because they have a strong interest in ensuring that their team pursues and wins their deals, giving them a way to create value and improve the pursuit. While it is important to coach deals, no matter how well you are able to help your sales force compete for those deals, you first have to create enough opportunities to be able to make your number.
Sales leaders often struggle with the time-based nature of sales results because they have too little interest in opportunity creation and offer little or no coaching and guidance around prospecting, the critical activity that needs to be done within the time allotted. Likewise, most sales teams miss their goals is because they create too few opportunities in time to reach them. Many are convinced that they have enough coverage in their pipeline, but the reality becomes clear as deals fall out or are pushed into future quarters.
This is the law of the farm: if you want to harvest in fall, you must plant in spring. Beating the clock means recognizing that the harvest is only possible because of the planting.
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The Non-Linear Nature of the Sales Conversation
The idea of predictable revenue makes sales leaders swoon: who wouldn’t want to perfectly predict the quarter’s outcome and accurately forecast their results? However, forecasting as well is made difficult by the nature of the sales conversation, something that is now non-linear and increasingly unpredictable.
As we have left the age of solutions selling and entered a new age marked by constant, accelerating, disruptive change, we can no longer count on moving efficiently from target to qualified, from qualified to discovery, from discovery to solution design, from solutions design to proposal, from proposal to negotiation, and from negotiation to won deal. In fact, this path is becoming increasingly rare, being supplanted by a non-linear conversation that requires greater agility from salespeople and their leaders.
A sales organization with a ninety-day sales cycle may well find the time it takes to win a deal stretching into additional days or weeks, in large part because their prospective clients have trouble managing the process of exploring and making a decision, a process that now comes in fits and starts.
A salesperson can now meet productively with an individual decision-maker or decision-shaper—doing a wonderful job compelling change, producing excellent discovery, and providing a preliminary idea as to the solution and the necessary investment—only to find that a number of stakeholders were left out of the conversation. Regardless of why they weren’t included in the first place, they now need to join the discussion, potentially taking weeks to reach a stage that the salesperson and their sales leader believed they had already completed.
In a world marked by constant, accelerating, disruptive change, you can expect your clients to have a tougher time committing to change and to require greater consensus around any important change initiative. When one is uncertain, doing nothing feels safer than undertaking change. Unfortunately, most salespeople lack the ability to manage that process, and even fewer have been given a framework for how to help their buyers build the consensus they need to move forward.
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Time Is Not on Your Side
Time relentlessly ticks away without any regard for you, your goals, your feelings, or any negative consequences you experience by being unable to produce a result within the allotted time. Time is either an ally or an unbeatable foe when it comes to sales results.
You will often hear people say that time kills deals. That’s not quite accurate: time doesn’t kill deals, but time with no positive action kills deals. Time is an ally to those who respect it, treat it as a gift, and put it to good use. It’s an enemy to those who disrespect it, not recognizing that time, once lost, can never be recovered. In sales, doing something tomorrow isn’t the same as doing it today. Creating opportunities two weeks from now is not the same as creating them this week, as the further you push that outcome into the future, the further you postpone capturing those opportunities.
Likewise, your prospective clients gain no benefit from delaying a necessary change, pushing their better results into the future and potentially facing more severe problems. Helping them make a good decision and move forward means creating a path for them to move from their current state to their better future state, recognizing the non-linear nature of the sales conversation, and taming it by controlling the process and helping them to build any and all necessary consensus.
Do Good Work
- How are you going to fill more of your pipeline with more opportunities?
- Who do you need to include in the sales conversation to provide more consensus and move the deal along?
- Dedicate time to doing something today you had reserved for tomorrow that will produce outcomes and achieve your goals.
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