How Do You Prioritize Your Opportunities?
"There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." William Shakespeare
As you know, sales leads can quickly grow stale. Every lead and opportunity is like a milk carton with an expiration date. If marketing sends you a lead indicating that "Acme Corp." has received a $12 million round of financing, you want to call Acme within a few hours, not days. If you get a Web lead that looks promising, you want to call that lead within minutes, not hours. Research shows that the odds of calling to qualify an online lead decreases by more than 6 times in the first hour.
As you convert sales-ready leads in your sales funnel into opportunities, ask yourself:
- Is there a great fit for your product or solution?
- Is your prospect actively looking for a solution?
- What is the prospect's timetable for finding the best solution?
- What are the competing solutions?
- What does the company have to lose if it did nothing about the problem?
- What is the company's process for making a decision?
- What are the company's preferred steps involved in a purchase?
- Is there an established budget?
- What is the dollar potential of this opportunity?
- Do I have access to all decision makers, and how many of them can I convince?
- What is this potential customer's long-term value to my company?
- How long will it take until the sale is closed?
- What are the potential obstacles that stand in the way of the sale?
- What are the realistic chances of closing this sale? (25 percent, 50 percent, 75 percent)
These questions will help you prioritize the opportunities in your sales funnel, and they will help you develop a realistic sales forecast every month.
Action step: create a list of your most important and most urgent opportunities, and refresh this list daily.
How Much Time Do Your Prospects Spend in Your Sales Funnel?
Time is the ultimate scorekeeper in selling. Many salespeople fail to accelerate the movement of their opportunities in their funnel because
- they take too long to uncover and understand the true needs of their customer,
- they are unable to align the prospect's priorities with their priorities,
- they are too slow to respond to their prospect's needs,
- they are unable to time their calls with their prospect's available time windows,
- they don't immediately record their call notes and thus forget follow-up details.
The magic question: What’s the average time a qualified opportunity stays in your funnel?
Successful salespeople know that speed is their friend. They analyze their sales cycle and ask themselves:
- At what point will I cut off an opportunity because there is no chance of creating a customer?
- How much time do I invest in moving the average prospect from the opening to the close?
- How can I reduce the number of calls needed to close an opportunity?
- How can I add more value to each call to accelerate the decision?
If you can find new ways to reduce by 20 percent the time your prospects spend in the funnel, you will close 20 percent more sales!
Action step: think of new ways to accelerate the speed of your sales funnel by 20 percent, and you will be able to increase your sales by 20 percent.
The magic question: What percentage of your opportunities will turn into closed sales per month?
Successful salespeople know that reaching their goals at the end of the month depends on being keenly aware of what they need to accomplish every single day. They plan their work and execute on time. They know that to win in sales, they have to be first. To be first, they have to be faster than the competition. Second place in sales never gets a commission check.
Books: The Funnel Principle by Mark Sellers
Video: How to Flip the Funnel with Seth Godin
Blog: The Media Funnel