Don’t let hopeful salespeople fill your pipeline with junk
For years I have heard sales people tell me they want to learn how to qualify better and land big deals. It is every salesperson’s dream. Even though it is a common aim, as odd as this may sound, there is a danger of wanting to qualify better.
You might be surprised at this thought but it sets you up to have the wrong mindset and starts a tug of war between you and the prospect. You see there is little or no relationship and prospects are mistrusting of salespeople from the start. Such a scenario may not be much help.
As sales professionals, we must establish good relationships with prospects. So you start asking qualifying questions and what happens…they give you the “short answer”. You can feel the tension and resistance but we don’t want to push too hard because this has some potential and we can keep “hope” alive. From my perspective hope is no good!
Hope lets you fill your pipeline or sales forecast with junk (sometimes called deals) that are never going to close. Hope lets you lie to yourself that you have a lot going on and helps you procrastinate from making real sales calls. It keeps you in a fantasy world which is far from reality. You loose your concentration and start believing in what is favorable to you although it might be far away from reality. This is definitely not a healthy environment.
Here is one example of how hope could be misleading.
I once worked with a Fortune-500 company who didn’t want to get real.
They preferred to live in the land of hope even after I warned them that they were setting themselves up for a shortfall. Sadly as I predicted the last week in the quarter $10 million in deals evaporated… not moved into next quarter but actually evaporated into thin air never to be seen again.
Painfully they were $10 million short of what they told Wall Street and the street punished their stock severely for it. Hoping that everything will turn out to be fine may be a positive way of thinking. But, building a sales forecast on hope never works in the commercial world. Your sales team must take action at the ideal time. The right act at the right moment will help you build a good relationship with your prospect.
So I am going to be a contrarian. I am going to suggest that instead of qualifying, you strive to disqualify.
Do not be surprised. This is a very different perspective on sales. By trying to disqualify, you will ask tougher questions and the prospect has to sell you instead of you selling them. You reverse the process with this approach. Your quality will automatically improve.
Your mindset should be positive but slightly skeptical. So it sounds something like, “That sounds great but I am little skeptical because…” Either the prospects get real and honest or they quickly disqualify themselves. This will take a little practice because it feels unnatural but once you master it, it will serve you well. This will give you a clear picture of where you stand in a deal. It will avoid unnecessary hope and help you believe in facts which are more realistic in helping you to achieve your goals.