The Pipeline, The Funnel and the Inaccurate Forecast - It gets a bit scary when people who are experts in one thing write about another. Today's example was sent to me by OMG partner Mike Shannon. He sent along a recent BtoBonline.com post by Jeff Perkins. Jeff suggests that the sales funnel is a thing of the past, but his examples, and therefore reasons, are way off base. He seems confused about what the sales pipeline or funnel is supposed to do for us.
His examples are that people change their minds about what they will buy and/or take varying amounts of time to become customers.
But pipeline isn't about the what or the how long; it's all about traction, movement, the if and the when. The funnel or pipeline shows prospects moving from stage to stage in the sales process whether they are buying one or ten, spending $10K or $100K, or buying in 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years.
Many sales leaders are confused about the pipeline. After all, the single biggest complaint I hear is the one about inaccurate forecasts followed closely by delayed closings. The pipeline should be the single most accurate predictor of future revenue. If your pipeline is not providing you with that information, something is wrong with either your process, your stages, your criteria, your CRM, or your people. And don't rule out yourself on this one. Many leaders have simply given up! You must fix it. The pipeline should also be a powerful coaching tool. Is yours?
The Termination, The Cake and the Celebration - I was called into a conference room last week where I found my team waiting for me with a cake. I asked if we were celebrating our big month, but was told that we were celebrating the one-year anniversary of a firing!
That particular firing was a huge milestone and it allowed us to build a better team, a better product and a better company. Sales leaders often fear, delay and sometimes refuse to put termination on the table. We hear things like, "You need to know that we aren't getting rid of anyone." in the same conversation as "Our numbers are unacceptable." More importantly, sales leaders often worry that terminations will be viewed as a negative or demotivate the team when, in reality, the opposite is usually true. Wouldn't a cake and celebration by the remaining and new team members be a good indication of that?