WHY PUSHING QUARTERLY SALES DOESN’T ALWAYS YIELD REVENUE INCREASES
By Bill Harrison
Some sales organizations are organized, goal-oriented, and process-driven – most, however, are fairly disorganized and unfocused. An easy way to tell great sales organizations from average sales organizations is to measure where managers spend the majority of their time. Is it at the front end of the sales pipeline, helping reps generate and qualify new deals? Or is it at the back end of the pipeline, trying to get deals to close as quickly as possible?
In great sales organizations, managers spend more time at the front end, focusing on new opportunity creation.
That’s not to say that effort isn’t needed to push deals across the goal line. But well-trained sales reps will close deals predictably and reliably, if they know how to fill their pipelines with qualified deals.
When managers spend too much time trying to accelerate the sales pipeline, two things happen: The sales process becomes inefficient because an inordinate amount of time is spent trying to get customers to buy earlier than they want to. The company becomes less profitable because the desperation to close deals causes it to resort to big discounts and other “tricks” to close customers early, many of whom would purchase at a higher price later on.
In a quarterly results-driven business culture, it’s no surprise that so many companies focus on accelerating the pipeline rather than filling the pipeline. Sales managers are behaving consistently with their compensation plans and often the comp plans are ultimately to blame for the poor results.
If the current quarter sales forecast is coming up short, ask this question, “Am I missing my number because my team doesn’t know how to close deals? Or, am I missing my number because my team didn’t have enough qualified deals in its pipeline in the first two months of the quarter?”
It’s likely most answered “yes” to the latter question. If so, why not build the pipeline for next quarter starting today? The die is cast for Q3. Will a herculean effort to move Q4 deals into Q3 have any positive effect on the annual sales results at the end of the year? Probably not.
Instead, get a head start on Q4 and invest the final weeks of the quarter helping the sales team develop lead generation, networking, and qualification skills. With a solid pipeline going into next quarter, selling will be more efficient and at a higher margin because of operating from a position of strength rather than a position of desperation.
Bill Harrison is the president of Epicom Corporation, an Austin-based company that builds, supports and hosts web-based Customer Relationship Management systems. www.epicom.com
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