Avoid Pipeline Bloat

Pipeline bloat occurs when your pipeline is full of deals that will never close. Sure, there are deals that will close … but not a very high percentage. This happens when you fail to completely qualify the prospect. Your gut tells you that the deal is good, but you never asked them for a time-frame. Or you think they have enough money to complete the deal, but you never actually asked. They have told you that the deal is being reviewed by management, but you don’t know how long that will take or whether management is on board with the purchase. There are many other scenarios, but the essential point is that in each of these cases the prospect is not properly qualified. We don’t know if there is a compelling reason to buy. Or we don’t know if there is any urgency to buy now. When pipelines are bloated your forecasts are inaccurate and unreliable, your closing rates are low, and you waste too much time chasing the deals that will never close. Qualifying harder is like taking an antacid for the pipeline. The bloat disappears.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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Avoid Black Hole Syndrome

Are you waiting for a response for proposals you have sent? Does it feel like they are in a black hole? Most of the time the problem is that the salesperson does not know what will happen to the proposal after they submit it. This is especially true if the approval must come from someone you did not get a chance to meet and qualify. If you do not know the steps that your contact has to take to get approval, how long each step will take and what the concerns of the people involved in the final approval are, then your proposal has a great chance to end up in a “black hole” sometimes never to emerge into the light of day again. The solution to this problem is simple just ask you contact what steps she has to take and how long each step will take. Ask about the concerns (pain) of each of the decision makers you did not meet with. Get a commitment from your contact for when she thinks you should follow up. If you do these things you will accomplish two things. You will be able to give an accurate forecast when a decision will be made. And, more importantly, you will know when to follow up which will give you some peace of mind and keep you from being a pest to your prospect.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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Expect to get an Answer

Often, you get what you expect to get. Getting an answer to your questions involves more than just asking it correctly. Communication involves more than just the words you say or the order in which you say them. Tonality and body language convey much more meaning than the words themselves. Your mother always told you it is not what you said but it how you said it that mattered most. To increase your odds of getting an answer to tough questions you ask, you must expect to get an answer to the question. If you ask with the expectation that they will answer, your tonality and body language will reinforce your words and the prospect will most likely answer. But if you ask a question with the belief that they will not want to give you an answer, or, even worse, that they shouldn’t answer, they most likely will not answer. So, convince yourself first that the prospect should answer and then ask the question. Asking without that belief is most often a waste of breath.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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Be Authentic

There is no “perfect” personality to be an effective salesperson. Yet, many salespeople put on their “salesperson’s persona” when they enter a sales situation. They pretend to be outgoing or enthusiastic or knowledgeable or anyone of a dozen different “faces” that they think is what salespeople are supposed to look and sound like. If you catch them in a “real” moment or on their off-duty hours they appear completely different. The truth is that people can see through that. When they sense a difference between who you are and what you are presenting yourself as, they lose trust in you. Even if they don’t consciously know what is going on, subconsciously they feel it. They may not know why they don’t trust you, but they don’t. And trust is an essential element in the sales process. So, the solution is to be authentic at all times. Be yourself. If you are not a bubbly personality do not adopt that personality when you are on a sales call. If you are new in the industry, don’t try to pretend that you know everything. Rather confront the issue up front and deal with it. (how to do that is the subject for another time). The point here is be our self. Don’t try to be something that you are not. It never works out well.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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Linger in Pain

Pain is the essential element of the compelling reason to move forward in the sales process. However, pain exists blow the surface. Too many salespeople are satisfied with finding out what the prospect wants or needs and then moving on. Wants and needs are not pain. The pain exists in the answer to the question why they want it, or why they need it. The real answers to those questions take longer to uncover and if you move on after only discovering the wants or needs you will not have uncovered the actual compelling reason to buy. The result of that will become clear when the deal stalls and you can’t close it. Over time your pipeline becomes bloated with unqualified and uncloseable deals, your forecasts become unreliable and you waste a lot of time chasing dollars that never materialize. The solution is to linger in the pain step of the sales process until you are sure there is either a compelling reason to buy or are convinced there is not now a compelling reason and will never be one so you can close the file and move on.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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Have a Sales Process

Chef’s have a process to make delicious meals. They use it every time. Engineers have a design process. They use it every time. Airline pilots have a system for pre-flight checklist. They use every time or people may die. Salespeople, on the other hand, most often wing it on sales calls. A sales process does not have to be as rigid as a pre-flight check list, but it needs to be a flexible milestone centric staged set of steps you go thru on every sales call. I laugh when a salesperson tells me “I used the selling process on this call”. I have to wonder why she picked this call to use it on and why not others? It would be like combat fighter pilot saying, “I think I will take my parachute on this mission.” Top salespeople have a sales process and they use it on every call. At all times they know where they are in the sales process whether it is a one call close situation or a long cycle complex sale. If you don’t have a selling process call me and I will give you access to my online training class free for two weeks and you can learn one. If you have one. Use it … especially if I taught it to you.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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Collect Data

Most salespeople have an aversion to collecting data about their sales performance. Hence, analyzing progress they are making is difficult at best. Progress assessments become subjective. “Joe seems to be doing better as far as I can see” is a typical assessment a sales manager would make in the absence of any data on closing rates. Without data there is no way to see trends or document successes that don’t result in a signed contract. I am not suggesting that you collect reams of data. Only a few select indicators of performance. If you knew that you had talked to an average of 5 more people per week over the last quarter than you had in the previous two years, that would tell you something. If, on the other hand, your number of appointments booked decreased by 2 per week over that same period that would be a cause for concern and further investigation as to why. You don’t have to collect much data. Companies usually have ways to track deals once they hit the pipeline. So, there is plenty of data from that point on. But you should collect some data on how many calls you make, how many people you talk to, how many appointments you book and how many qualified opportunities you turn up. You should do this week by week, month by month and year by year. Plot the data and look for trends. Look for changes. You don’t need any fancy math to analyze the data. But you will find that data like this can be an invaluable diagnostic tool and as a bonus it can be an early warning of an impending slump in sales.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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You don’t have to quote

Salespeople waste a lot of time quoting to prospects who have not earned the right to have a quote. Just because they ask you to quote does not mean that you have to quote. The prospect must qualify to get one. They qualify by explaining to you in some detail the compelling reason they have for buying your product. They must have told you they have the money and you discussed the amount in some detail. Then they must play some part in the decision process, preferably in decision making capacity of some sort. And lastly they must have agreed to make a decision upon delivery of the quote or very soon thereafter. Sometimes the easiest way to get a salesperson out of their office and end the sales call is to ask for a quote. If that happens to you it is perfectly ok to say “no” (politely). Most of the time you will say something like “I would be more than happy to, but I just have a few more questions”. If you spend more time qualifying (and disqualifying) you will spend less time writing quotes leaving more time for more lucrative or leisure activities … your choice.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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Lead the Conversation

You know how to lead a conversation, but do you do it on a sales call? Most people don’t. They come to the meeting concentrating on what they want to say and how to say it. What they should be concentrating on is the prospect’s situation, their pain their budget and other steps in the sales process. So, for example, they should “lead” the conversation to a discussion of the prospect’s pain. If we know that pain is typically found in the shipping department, then they should lead the conversation there. You lead the conversation by asking questions. You can get the prospect moving in the right direction by answering their questions in a way that inserts another topic into the conversation. We have all done it. So we all have the skill. However, all too often, salespeople forget to use this skill. They focus instead on themselves and their product or service. So, use the skill you already have. When you do, the prospect will more easily accept what you eventually have to say, and they will never feel like they were sold to, because it felt to them like they were in control the whole time.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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Make the prospect think

Great sales questions make the prospect think. Good questions merely get you a lot of information. Getting information is important and must be done to make a sale. However, just understanding the situation and the pain the prospect is in, is many times not enough. You must differentiate yourself from the competition. Asking questions that make the prospect think is a great way to do that. Some examples might be “Why did you not go down this alternate path?” or “Why does that keep happening when clearly you have directed otherwise?”. The first question shows that you may have some knowledge of the situation. Maybe the prospect has an answer. But maybe the question stops him in his tracks as he stops to consider that alternative that maybe he hadn’t thought of. Having the prospect think can never hurt you. It starts the conversation down a different path than they may have had with a competitor. They see you differently and hopefully they see you as someone who can help them. The second question can have a similar effect, or it can shine a light on the real pain and really cause the prospect to get emotional. Good questions get you information and are important. Great questions make the prospect think and can be a game changer.

If you have a sales question you would like to discuss follow the link to schedule a call:
https://calendly.com/dancaramanico/callwithdan

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