How do I move along a slow sales pipeline?

We sell creative design services and have 50/50 serious buyer/shopper that we've been doing proposals for. A lot of people are "waiting for team input", "checking with CEO" , "in a holding pattern" , "gathering info from competitors" , or decided they want our service but are not ready until the product is finished or brand strategy is defined... which could be 2-3 months out. Half have just gone silent. We're regularly following up, trying to find the objections/blockers. Some don't respond at all, half do and say they need a couple weeks. I think the big thing I notice is most of them don't have an actual problem & deadline defined. They just know they need it and want it. Typical sales process is 2 months and involves 1-2 calls. Though lately, that's extending to 2-4 months.


Hi there,

I think there may be an issue with qualification in your process and these prospects you are targeting may not actually be hot leads but people in a research phase. Any qualification process, even simple ones like BANT could give you a better understanding on which leads are closer to making a decision vs. just looking around.

Have these been inbound or outbound leads? How many customers have you closed with the previous 2 month process, and were they inbound or outbound?

I may be wrong, but I believe you are trying to close leads that have not been properly qualified. I would need a bit more background to give you a better answer.

Answered 6 years ago

I'll assume you've already asked the questions and qualified this prospect using tactics like BANT (budget, authority, need, timing) so I'm not going to bore you with that stuff.
This kind of stalling is rooted much deeper. Very often, a prospect does need your service, and needs it now, and even knows that, but still won't move. Why is this?

It's emotional, it's political, and it's human nature to "prefer to defer."

Here's some stuff no one else will tell you.

There are 3 moments of truth in a sales process:

1. Is a champion identified? Is there someone there who has confirmed that they will recommend your solution to their colleagues, that they would work for your company if they could, that they would put their reputation on the line for you, etc.? This person is usually ambitious and has something to prove in their company. You are a bullet point on their resume, or perhaps a promotion or even an award. You need to find this person and tap into their ambition or you'll wind up in a decision-by-committee scenario where no one cares enough to take a stand for your solution (or likely cares enough about anything in their company). They just sit around and point fingers at each other. You need to find the ambitious one with something to gain or lose.
2. Is there a time-based incentive to close? Most people think this means "is there a discount you gave them if they close by a certain date," and that very well may be enough to get a close, but I mean something else. You need to ask if there is a specific initiative in the business and who has determined that it must be advanced and when do they want it done by? As a CEO, I usually tell my team what I want and when I want it and they go find vendors and negotiate prices as fast as possible. Those who do this for me with efficiency are noticed and promoted (see #1 above). Perhaps your customer has an announcement they want to make at an annual conference or board meeting and this needs to be done by then. Perhaps they have budgetary requirements that you're willing to work within as long as they sign by a certain date. Or perhaps they have revenue targets they need to hit by a certain date that you know they can achieve with your service. Whatever it is, find it and get them to put a date range on it, then use it over and over again to remind them of the timeliness of this project. They sometimes forget this timeliness, get lazy and hide behind the rest of their team and nothing gets done. The CEO could get mad that nothing gets done but the blame has been equally diluted across the organization because no champion has taken ownership (see #1 above). This is office politics at its worst and the reason for mediocre companies and a million dead sales. Find the time-based incentive, or create one, then squeeze it and hold them to it.
3. Is there a next meeting scheduled? This is so simple and so many people skip it. Live by this rule: if there is no next meeting scheduled, the deal is dead. If you hold yourself to that standard, you'll find yourself closing out opportunities much faster. If they refuse to meet you again, they're quietly breaking up with you. Don't let them slunk out like that. Call them out. Get that next meeting on the books to talk about pricing, implementation, references, or to at least part ways as friends like adults. Yes is good and No is good. It's the gray area that creates this time gap, and time kills all deals.

It sounds like you have a lot of contacts at this organization. I use something called the Gervais Principle to find out who really has the power (it's often not who you think). Feel free to contact me to discuss that. I give it to you straight and won't sugar coat it.

Answered 6 years ago

Hi, you are knee deep in the real world startups encounter constantly. As a sales pro, my advice is to set your current prospects list aside. Step 1: Discovery - Whose businesses are the best for your services? Be specific in answering this query. Are your services high-end? Are they bare bones and template-driven. The level of service your company delivers determines who is your customer. There are numerous new customer channels I could help you identify, develop and execute (it's my jam). Schedule a call and tap into solutions.

Answered 6 years ago

There are a lot of good answers here. But, the issue is with qualifying. What you have is a complex sale and in a complex sale, where you deal with many buying influences who have different opinions as to what the optimal solution is as well as the urgency of the problem needing fixing.

There is one quick tip I will give you. And, that is, in your initial discussions ask them bluntly a question like this (use your own phrasing and style): "I know this process might take a while because there are a lot of people involved on your side. Can I count on you to keep me informed as to what's going on?"

Nine out of ten will say yes. Then, when you call, you can leave a message that says "Hey Joe, you agreed to keep me informed as to what's going in. Please return the call to let me know." Their guilt will probably prevail.

Is it foolproof? No, but it will increase your odds of getting a call back.

I also ask a question like this: "I find that when people call me they fall into one or two camps. The first are people who are just shopping and looking for information but aren't really looking to do something. The other is people who really want to solve a problem and want to do something relatively soon. I'm happy to spend some time with you either way, but can you tell me which camp are you in?"

One last thing, you might need a sales methodology for complex sales such as Miller Heiman's Strategic Selling. It's geared towards your type of selling situation. If you want info on this, let me know.


Answered 6 years ago

One thing I would add, make sure your proposal also shows a personal value for the buyer. Meaning what do the individuals personally gain from using your service, as in more time for other work, etc.

Answered 6 years ago

Hello I am Priyanka.
In this question I would like to share my experience with you.
An efficiently managed pipeline is transparent, meaning that you’re always aware of the number of leads and prospects you have and how far along they are in the sales pipeline. It saves you time and lessens your administrative burdens, while moving along the process at a swift pace.

A good sales pipeline lets you treat each prospect differently, creating a much needed personalized approach that helps you close deals. In all, a smoothly operating sales pipeline is crucial for the success of your small business.

Transparency and Communication
If your business is really small (which means that no more than two people handle sales), you may not need specific software for managing your sales pipeline. In fact, it may be sufficient if your salespeople share a simple spreadsheet (like Google Sheets) and enter all their data there, updating it as frequently as necessary.

However, with larger operations, transparency may become an issue. Information can get lost, leads are not followed up on. That’s when sales start to slow down and the pipeline gets clogged.

Information can get lost, leads are not followed up on. That’s when sales start to slow down and the pipeline gets clogged

If communication among salespeople is not enough (or not possible for whatever reason), you may need to install software to help your pipeline run smoothly. There are many sales platforms designed for small businesses, many of them inexpensive or even free.

Here’s a list of the most popular sales software small businesses prefer to use.

Sales Platforms
Although it’s popular among many larger companies, Salesforce has an edition specifically designed for small businesses. This cloud-based software allows you to generate leads, manage contacts and opportunities, forecast your sales, automate your workflow, and much more.

You can access and manage your account from any device, which means that you’ll never miss out on a sales opportunity, even if you’re not in the office.

Salesforce offers many plans for its small business subscribers. The lowest starts at $25 per month per user. This chart compares all the available plans.

Zoho is free for up to ten users from your business. Despite the lack of costs, Zoho offers all core features of a sales management platform, including contact management, lead gathering, data analytics, and converting opportunities into sales. If your business’ size allows it, Zoho is a great cost-effective choice for you.

However, if your business expands, you may need to invest in the pro version of the software, as the free version is not suitable for the needs of a growing company. Pro packages start at $12 per user a month. This comparison chart helps you decide which package is best for your small business.

Insightly may be the best choice if your business is really small. This cloud-based software is free for up to two users. Access for every additional person costs $12 per month. The platform is easy to use and gives you access to all core sales features, including project management, controlling contacts, reporting, and opportunity administration.

Insightly offers pro plans starting at $29 a month per user. Check out this comparison chart highlighting the differences between each package.

Although not strictly a part of your sales pipeline, payments influence the whole operation of your business. If a payment is late or held up by unexpected delays, your business will suffer.

This is especially true in the case of international transfers where uncertainties surround every step of the process. How much money will you get after all the conversions and bank fees? When will your payments arrive?

This is where Veem comes in. Due to a unique multi-rail technology, Veem creates a direct link between you and your international business partners. This means no intermediaries, no unexpected delays, and no hidden fees. In addition, Veem offers competitive foreign exchange rates and charges no wire fees.

Send payments quickly, safely, and as easily as sending an email.

For further queries you can consult me.

Answered 6 years ago

A sales pipeline is a visual snapshot of where prospects are in the sales process. Sales pipelines show you how many deals salespeople are expected to close in a given week, month, or year and how close a rep is to reaching their sales quota. If your sales target is $20,000, then you will need to convert twice as many leads. The best salespeople will make sure they keep following up with leads to land the sale. But most sales professionals give up after 2 calls – so make sure you always follow up. In fact, it is currently ranked as the third biggest challenge for sales teams. Learn to identify these dead leads quickly, so you can move on to the next sales opportunity to close a big deal – without wasting any more time trying to breathe life into leads that simply will not buy from you. If you are finding that most of your leads are going cold and you are not closing enough sales to reach your sales targets, then you may have a problem with the length of your sales process. Reducing the sales process length does not mean you should bombard your leads with all 8-12 follow-ups in a single day, but it does mean you should consider ways to shorten it where possible. Try experimenting with a new, shorter, sales process and keep an eye on how it improves your sales results.
You can read more here:
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 3 years ago

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