The quotas are coming. Q2 is approaching! And just look at that sales funnel – man, there are a ton of opportunities stuck in there.
Sound familiar? You are not alone. This is the number one complaint these days from sales reps. Here are a few recommendations to help you focus on managing your sales funnel:
The marketing bus breaks for no one — Remember how you begged for leads and new opps? Well, Marketing heard you loud and clear. They decided to rev up the lead-generation engine and have been regularly dumping new leads in your bucket each week. Now keeping up with them is the bigger issue. Follow up on these leads.
Refresh your lead sorting/prioritization criteria – You have old opps that have been sitting in your funnel for 18+ months. Are these the ones you want to toss first? Maybe not. Customer 2.0 has been known to come back after a long slumber and remind you that they still need a solution. They either respond immediately or come back after 6+ months. So don’t disregard leads just because they have been sitting dormant.
Don’t deep clean, deep qualify – When there are so many leads clogging up the funnel, reps tend to focus more on qualifying something out rather than qualifying them deeper. It is no longer about “You’ve been in my funnel so long, how can I pull you out?” but, “You’ve been in my funnel so long, let’s find you the best solution and confirm the reason why you expressed interest in the past.”
Toughen up on your questions – Remember to ask the tough questions early and often. Salespeople who do this find they have a stronger and more focused funnel. Try the following categories: Current Environment, Business Need, Decision-making process and Criteria, Competition, Timeframe, Budget, Next Steps. You don’t want that funnel clogged with prospects you don’t know enough about—get at what really qualifies them and what will move them through. Which brings us to…
Pain identified – There are two things that will move opportunities through the funnel: (1) Pain and (2) Power. You must move into the business need and ask them “What is driving the need for this quote?” or “What happens each day this isn’t implemented?” or “How many people will lose productivity without this solution in place?” The answers will help you qualify and very likely move them nearer to the close.
Listen and don’t assume – Just because the lead is old, you don’t have to assume they are no longer interested or that they decided to shelf the idea or work with another vendor. If you come in assuming, you will never get much out of the call.
Get your opportunity out of the No-Po zone – These No-Po’s are professional funnel-cloggers. They never commit, and they continue to make false promises. Ask lots of decision-making questions here to vet out who they are.
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Josiane Feigon is author of Smart Sales Manager and the best-selling Smart Selling on the Phone and Online. She is a pioneer, maverick, and visionary in the inside sales community. A 20-year veteran of the industry, she is the founder of TeleSmart Communications. Since 1994, this San Francisco-based solutions provider has been a leader in developing inside sales teams and managers. Josiane is recognized among the Top 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professionals and as a leading expert on inside sales team and management talent. Her thought leadership blog is ranked in the Top 50 Sales blogs by SalesCrunch. Connect with her on Twitter and YouTube!