I hate sales funnels!!! They really make me crazy. I’ve been in too many sales meetings where each rep recaps the most recent activity on the opportunities they have in their sales funnel. These recaps sound like this:
- Called my contact and there is no word on the proposal
- Money still seems to be an issue
- They’ve scaled back the project
- The main decision maker wants to bring in the marketing department
- After being hot to trot there seems to be less interest in the equipment
- My contact said, “Look, we really want to do this but my partner is stalling.”
Let’s get this straight. I don’t think that funnels are stupid or should be eliminated from sales meetings. They “can” be a realistic predictor for future business. They are not a predictor when every opportunity is included or when existing opportunities overstay their welcome.
Let’s cover the right opportunities first:
- Does this opportunity fit into our marketing plan?
- Does this company have the right technical people to support our product?
- Does this company “really” have the need for our product?
- Can we support the sale of this product to a given customer?
- Is this really the right product for this customer?
If you have decided that the prospect you’re chasing satisfies these and other specific criteria then here is the next group of qualifiers. And these are bottom-liners:
- How badly does this prospect need our product? (If their PAIN is less than 7 on a scale of 1-10 you might want to question their need.)
- Have you met “every decision maker” that will or “should” be involved?
- Do you have “clear” next steps in the sales process? (The more indefinite the next steps are the longer the sales process.)
- Have you been involved in where their current product is used that does not work?
- Do you know the time line for making the decision?
- Is the money that this company is losing by using the current product more than the cost of the solution?
- Do you have all the support you need to make this sale happen?
- Have you created all the questions you need to ask to address all the possible ways that this sale can go south?
Here are my suggestions:
- Create a checklist for the criteria for a valid prospect.
- Create another checklist for what the salesperson needs to do at specific times during the sales process.
- To absolutely ensure that this opportunity moves down the funnel create the sales questions that the rep has to ask at specific times.
DON’T LEAVE ANYTHING TO CHANCE!