One surefire way to miss your goals is to have a pipeline that lacks integrity. The lack of integrity isn’t intentional. No one is really lying about their pipeline. Mostly, there is just a lack of rigor around opportunities. Here are a few of the root causes that you need to remove if you want a pipeline you can believe.
- Bad Dates: No client will ever tell you that they need to close a deal on the last day of the month, the last day of a quarter, or the last day of the year. Those as “salespeople dates” used as a placeholder for the date by which they believe they can wrap up a deal. A client may, however, want to go live on the first day of a quarter or a year, in which case, their contract will likely need to be signed some time before, allowing time to get through the process.
- Too Old: Problems don’t age well, and neither do deals. The age of a deal can tell you whether you are looking at something you have a shot of winning. If the deal has been in the pipeline long enough to have its third birthday or has covered two Presidential elections, it’s not something you want to bet on in most cases.
- Bad Deals: If a deal should have been disqualified, it doesn’t belong in your pipeline. A fast “no” to bad deals is much better—and much healthier—than a slow “no” to those same deals.
- Wrong Stage: Some of the aging deals in your pipeline may become your client someday. You may have deals that look they have progressed to the point where your prospect will make a decision even when that decision is still far away. The optimism that causes one to believe they are going to win a deal might be well-founded. That said, just because you gave a prospect a proposal don’t mean they are prepared to sign a contract. If you skipped some of the commitments in this book, you may need to go backwards to go forward.
A pipeline that lacks integrity can give you a false sense of confidence, causing you to believe that you are closing to your goals than you are. A bad number that is true is less damaging that a good number that is false. It can also prevent you from recognizing what you need to do to produce the results you want.