One sure way to not achieve your goals is to have a poor pipeline. The lack of integrity is not intentional. Nobody really lies about their pipeline. Above all, there is just a lack of rigor around the opportunities. Here are some of the root causes that you must remove if you want a pipeline in which you can believe.
- Bad dates: No customer will ever tell you that they must close a deal on the last day of the month, the last day of the quarter, or the last day of the year. These are "sell dates" used as a placeholder for the date on which they think they can close a deal. However, a customer may wish to enter service on the first day of a quarter or year. In this case, his contract will probably have to be signed some time before, the time to complete the process.
- Too old: Problems do not age well any more than offers. The age of an agreement can tell you if you are looking at something that you have a chance of winning. If the agreement has been long enough to mark its third birthday or if it covers two presidential elections, you will not want to bet on that in most cases.
- Bad businessIf an agreement were to be disqualified, it does not belong to your pipeline. A quick "no" to bad business is much better – and a lot healthier – than a slow "no" to those same offers.
- Bad step: Some of the aging offerings of your pipeline could become your customer someday. You may have offers that seem to have progressed to the point where your prospect will make a decision even when this decision is still far away. The optimism that makes them believe they will win a deal may be well founded. That said, just because you've given a proposal to a client does not mean they're ready to sign a contract. If you have ignored some of the commitments in this book, you may have to go back and forth.
A pipeline that lacks integrity can give you a false sense of trust and make you believe that you are approaching your goals. A bad number that is true is less damaging than a good number that is wrong. It can also prevent you from recognizing what you need to do to achieve the desired results.
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