“Be sure that you understand that each stage is clearly defined. Number two, have someone test your assumptions. And number three, validate your progress with the customer.” – Steve Gielda in today’s Tip 993
How do you avoid opportunities from stalling in your pipeline process?
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Scott Ingram: You’re listening to the Daily Sales Tips podcast and I’m your host, Scott Ingram. Today’s tip comes from Steve Gielda. Steve is a global Sales Enablement expert that has helped over 15,000 sales and marketing professionals improve their field effectiveness. Working with clients in the IT, Finance, Medical Device, and Pharmaceutical markets, he and his team have helped their clients identify and exceed their key business metrics. Here he is:
Steve Gielda: So here are three tips on how to avoid opportunities from stalling in your pipeline process. The first tip is to ensure that each stage of your pipeline process is clearly defined. Too often we work with customers that have some very generic headings for each of their stages, but they’re not defined much beyond that. It’s okay to have a stage called prospecting or inquiry or demonstration or negotiation, but those terms are too vague, and they mean different things to different people. So we would encourage you to be sure that each stage is clearly defined by a set of strategic actions or milestones. We call a critical milestone, a strategic action that if not accomplished, puts the opportunity at risk. That risk could mean it stalls, or it could mean even worse that it’s lost. So think about what are the critical actions or critical milestones that define each stage? What are the things that you must accomplish in stage one or stage two or stage three? That if those things are not done, puts the opportunity at risk? So that’s kind of my first tip here for you guys.
My second tip is to have someone test your assumptions, whether it be a manager, whether it be a peer. Have somebody test your understanding that those critical milestones have, in fact, been done. So, for example, if one of your critical milestones is to in fact develop a proactive strategy to neutralize in the adversaries, how do you know that’s really been done? Talk it over with someone because we can, If we’re really close to the account, we can actually make assumptions that people are, in fact, been neutralized or removed from the influence or have less influence or maybe have been conditioned to come more on our side and or maybe moving more towards that side of the advocacy because we’re so close to it. Have someone test your assumptions. Have them ask questions that you may not be thinking about to validate that the milestones that you have put forth in each stage have, in fact, been completed. One of the worst things that we can do is assume that certain things have been done to its fullest capability, only to find out later on that they haven’t been done. For example, if we find out that it’s important for us to one of our critical milestones is to identify the decision criteria our customers using to compare us against the competition. One of the things we often find out is that those things are not fully vetted, and therefore when we come to a decision and we lose. We often will blame price, but really, in reality, we come to find out we never really understood the different decision criteria of the top two key influencers. So have somebody validate or test your assumptions.
And the last tip that I have is to validate your progress in the process with an advocate inside the account. So check with them. If there are critical milestones that need to be done, such as, you need to understand what the critical business metrics are of your client. Well, test those. Test those with your advocate. Test with your advocate whether or not certain other adversaries are neutralized. Test your understanding around the decision criteria. Test your understanding around any potential objections that might be, that might have come up. So validate things with your customer. What you’ll gain from is we got a lot more clear insights, many additional clear insights as to really where you are.
So those are just three tips. Be sure that you understand that each stage is clearly defined. Number two, have someone test your assumptions. And number three, validate your progress with the customer. I hope these help and I look forward talking to you soon.
Scott Ingram: For links to connect with Steve and Ignite Selling, just click over to DailySales.Tips/993 and we’ll have everything for you there. Once you’ve clicked over there, be sure to click back here tomorrow for another great sales tip. Thanks for listening!