You are driving down the highway and see an enormous truck in your side mirror. The truck is moving very fast - twice your speed - and closing in quickly. You continue to look in the mirror and because of the way your side mirror is shaped, it appears that the closer the truck gets, the more likely it seems that the truck will simply run right over you. You accelerate a little, keeping watch on that mirror and then it happens. You miss the sharp bend in the road and drive off the cliff.
This short story is the real-world equivalent to something which often occurs with your salespeople. There are new opportunities to be targeted, as well as opportunities which already populate the pipeline. The most promising of the existing opportunities seem to get most of the salesperson's attention. One particular call causes the salesperson to become so excited that she devotes the rest of the week to developing an appropriate solution, value proposition, ROI, proposal and presentation. She is so focused on this opportunity that she forgets all about what is up ahead. Post-presentation and proposal, she begins making follow-up calls and over the course of the next month goes into full-chase mode. When it finally sinks in that this prospect is not returning calls, has gone missing, and won't be buying anything from her soon, it's too late. She neglected to continue filling her pipeline, has neglected to line up new opportunities, not stayed in touch with other opportunities in her pipeline and drove off the cliff.
It happens all the time.
It's not the salesperson's fault.
That's what sales managers are supposed to be doing. Sales Managers must not only help, but hold their salespeople accountable to being focused on the right activities and behaviors, at the right time, on the right opportunities, and for the right reasons. They must also provide coaching on each opportunity so the salesperson can see what is in front of them and avoid falling off the cliff.
Last call for my Sales Leadership Intensive in Boston, October 3-4, when we will spend 2 days working on things like this together. If you want to attend, skip the online registration and email me directly.