Sales professionals know the hard fact: in the end, it really IS a numbers game. But how those numbers actually run – whether in your favour or against you – has a lot to do with expanding your focus not only to the next deal, but investing deeply in more than one phase of your sales cycle at any given time.
Sales process can have a lot of analogies – consider gardening. Most sales activities can be divided into three phases: 1) scatter and sow, 2) water and weed and 3) reap and re-plant. It can be challenging to put a huge amount of effort into all three phases simultaneously, but maintaining a core focus in two of the three areas is crucial to filling your opportunity pipeline and achieving your revenue targets.
Scatter and sow: Many salespeople often love the acronym “ABC”, or “always be closing”. But in order to close, you need to do the work up front and make sure you’re prospecting enough to bring in a variety of opportunities. If you are in B2B sales, focus on new leads in existing accounts (farming): What cross-selling could you do in your existing accounts? Are there other divisions with whom you could potentially work? What current success could you leverage to gain more business? Similarly, focus on new business development (hunting): get outside your comfort zone and sell new products or solutions to new contacts.
Water and weed: every salesperson knows “you can’t win them all”. Yet, as you pull opportunities through your pipeline or funnel, expert salespeople can identify crucial steps that help “water” the best opportunities and “weed out” that ones that aren’t as good. As you learn more about the customer’s needs, consider what kind of “watering” would help. Do you have a subject matter expert (internal product or technical specialist) who could add value to the customer’s business? Act as a strategic orchestrator to align internal resources at the right time to move sales forward. Similarly, don’t be afraid to “weed out” your funnel: are you running after work that isn’t profitable or doesn’t fit your selling criteria? The time you spend on these less fruitful opportunities mean less time and attention for those with high-yield potential. Act early and make these decisions.
Reap and re-plant: Consider ways to accelerate closing the sale. Are there objections that need to be correctly identified and overcome? Forum’s research shows that an objection actually helps you do one of three things: educate your customer, involve your customer or verify your customer is interested. Consider how you can accelerate the close: do you have a contact in a similar account who is delighted with the work you’ve done or the value you’ve provided? Don’t hesitate to offer making connections so that your prospect can hear it for themselves. And once you’ve won the work, ask regularly for referrals: “Who else do you think would benefit in a partnership like this?” Referrals can accelerate and grow revenue exponentially.
If you only focus on closing the sale, once the paperwork is signed you may find you have nothing in the pipeline (volume)! Similarly, review your prospecting work and determine which opportunities could move faster (velocity). By applying these principles, you can ensure that your “patch” is thriving at all times.