Three Reasons Your Sales Pipeline Is A Petting Zoo

The power of analogies in business

Meet Eddie. Eddie is a prospect that has been in the sales pipeline and forecast WAY TOO long. You know this prospect. He is the prospect that always takes your call, is pleasant and assures you that the company is going to ‘do something’ next month.

Sales PipelineSalespeople like the Eddie’s of the world and often adopt them as pets. They go back to them to get strokes, receive strokes and create petting zoo pipelines, not a qualified sales pipeline.

What makes salespeople create petting zoos that are never going to give them money or business?  Here are three common reasons.

#1:  Comfort Zone.   It is comfortable calling on a prospect that always takes your call, is polite and encourages you to call back.  It is uncomfortable pursuing new opportunities.  You might have to talk to strangers.  There is work and energy involved in new prospect development:  cold calling, emailing, networking,  meeting with referral partners, asking for referrals, attending trade shows and speaking.  It’s no wonder petting zoos are rampant in the sales profession!

#2:  Reality Testing.   Reality testing is the ability to see things as they really are rather than what you’d like them to be.    This emotional intelligence skill is really important in pipeline management.  Here are a few reality testing questions  to qualify or disqualify your opportunities:

  • Is the problem shared by the prospect big enough to address?
  • Is the prospect committed to investing time money and resources to fixing the problem or achieving the goal?
  • Are you more committed to success than your prospect?
  • Is there urgency around implementation of a solution?

Here’s a reality check. Prospects that are committed,  take action. They find the money and resources to fix problems or achieve goals. They also reap the rewards of action rather than talk.

#3:  Decision making.  There is an old saying. Decision makers make decisions. If a salesperson struggles with being decisive, there is a high probability they will have difficulty asking prospects to make a decision. The result is two non-decisive people continuing to meet, having conversation and deciding to meet again. The salesperson has turned into an event planner, not a deal closer.

Look at your sales pipeline and apply some reality testing. Do you have a too many pets taking up valuable real estate?

Good Selling!

Category: Sales

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About the Author: Colleen Stanley

Colleen Stanley is President of SalesLeadership, a sales training and consulting firm. She is author of Growing Great Sales Teams, and writes a bi-monthly column for business journals across the country. For more information, co

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