In our initial primer on Building Your Sales Engine, we’ve covered the hiring of your new sales team and offered some basic tools to help manage that sales talent to drive success. You’re now looking for real results from that amazing pipeline you’ve handed them. But nothing seems to close. Your pipeline is starting to crack. Sound familiar?

There are lots of micro techniques and devices to progress individual sales opportunities through a pipeline as efficiently as possible – they are for another day and, if you’ve hired correctly, your sales people will know many of them anyway. So, what’s the problem?

The problem is behaviours

Sales is about delivering a number by a date. To do this, the Entrepreneurial Sales Person must manage a range of opportunities of different values at various stages of evolution and with a wildly different likelihood of monetisation.

In a more mature business context, this is simply called a pipeline and there is, what we at Versari call, a precedent; a demonstrable history, model & metrics governing how long each opportunity should remain at each stage. This precedent drives sales behaviours.

In a Growth Technology context, however, the sales person has none of this precedent with which to work. There is no track record, no metrics and absolutely no consistency in deal timeline.

So what drives behaviours? Human Nature.

A pipeline in two halves

At a really simple level, your sales pipeline can be broken into 2 halves.

The top half is early stage meetings, coffees and nice vague, friendly, strategic language. This is really important as part of the qualification process – few deals can be done without it – but no business is getting done here. It’s ambiguous, light touch, takes very little time and, above all, is relatively easy.

The bottom half is where monetisation happens and deals are closed. This is where negotiation takes place, details about both solution and economics are ironed, language is precise and it takes time. Oh, and guess what? This bit is hard.

Establishing a pipeline without precedent

Without precedent or established metrics to drive behaviours, the natural tendency for any sales person is to focus on ‘Top Half’ activities. They’re relatively important, require less effort and are just easier.

So, before we get to all the clever techniques to move individual opportunities through the funnel, have a look at how and where your sales people (and you!) are spending their time:

  • Balanceis there the right balance between top & bottom of the funnel activities?
  • Time: are they allocating enough time to bottom of the funnel opportunities? To attend to the micro-details that are required to close a deal.
  • Language: how precise is the language they use with both the prospect & the business? Vague means a deal is some way off, no matter where in the CRM system it lies.

Yes, these indicators are high-level but they are the first step in identifying why that great pipeline never closes, or, perhaps, how great it really was in the first place.

Do you need help building a high-performance sales engine? Have any burning questions based on something you’ve read in this blog post? Please feel free to get in touch about our Entrepreneurial Sales Programme for Growth Technology businesses – including Sales Services, Talent Acquisition & Development. 



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