The Frustrations Caused By A Stagnant Sales Pipeline & Pokey Sales Cycle…

 

Do you ever sit at your desk and think to yourself “WHY won’t anyone call me back?” “WHY is it taking so long for them to make a decision?” “WHY am I going through a dry spell and can’t seem to close any new business?” WHY WHY WHY?

OK…maybe that’s a little dramatic. How about this?

Do you ever sit at your desk and get ticked off because those blankety blank clients just won’t get off their blankety blanks and make a decision already. I mean seriously, who do they think they are acting as if their time is so much more full than yours and they can just ignore your phone calls and never call you back. Haven’t they ever heard of multi-tasking? I mean really…PICK.UP.THE.PHONE! (Note I do not condone calling clients names nor would I ever use such profanity.  I am a good Midwestern girl with a sweet disposition.  I am merely giving a scenario of what I’ve overheard, of course).
Ah yes…there are a lot of emotions that come with being a sales professional. I could sit here and type different scripts that have skipped through my head (or I’ve overheard) on any given Tuesday, but that is beside the point. What I’m trying to get at is that there are a lot of things that play into the timing of a sales cycle. It’s not all within our control, but surprisingly you don’t have to sit at your desk feeling helpless and frustrated. There are more productive questions you can ask yourself that will help get to the bottom of it. Once you explore these areas, you may figure out that there are actions you can take to turn things around. Those blankety blanks are not purposely making your life miserable. Chances are a solution is within your control and you can turn things around. And the bonus is that by putting these questions into practice will help you change some habits and probably even shorten your sales cycle forever.

1. Is your sales pipeline strong enough? – By strong enough I mean be honest and look at those leads you are chasing with more scrutiny.
a. Are the businesses a good fit for each other, or are you trying to fit a square peg into a round hole?
b. Is the contact really the decision-maker, or are you working with a middle-man?
c. Have you asked all the right questions, or are you just taking them at their word or making assumptions? I learned from my husband to ask a lot of questions in business. We’ve been in business together in various start-ups for the past 8 years. I used to think he would ask the dumbest most obvious questions until I realized that when he asks those things people open up even more, and my assumptions may have only been partially right. It pains me to admit that he’s right, but he rarely reads my blog, so I think I’m safe.

2. Is your sales pipeline large enough? – Especially in the hotel business you cannot bank on a few pieces of business. The most successful sales managers have a lot of direct sales activity happening in ALL areas of the sales cycle. You cannot prospect just until you have a handful of leads that want a proposal and then focus on those proposals getting to contract. You must multi-task and continue the prospecting while giving sites, sending proposals, sending contracts and closing. Prospecting often gets put on the back-burner when business picks up. Big mistake.

3. How are you staying relevant to your pipeline? – Were things going great with the lead, and then suddenly it’s like your contact fell off the face of the earth? This is one of the most frustrating things, and yet so common! I recently read a great book, SNAP Selling by Jill Konrath. Truly it is one of the best sales books I have read in quite a while. It has excellent solutions for selling to the overwhelmed and incredibly busy buyer. It is so relevant to today’s business environment, and I highly recommend it. We are implementing suggestions from the book into our own business sales process at GitGo!

What have I missed? If you don’t identify with the top scenarios…how have you been successful at maintaining a consistent sales cycle? We’d love to hear your ideas and success stories, or even your challenges!