June 17, 2013 1 Comment
I was watching a fascinating documentary the other day on the making of 24hrs in A&E, which is Channel 4 production. The documentary focuses on life in the accident and emergency department for King’s College Hospital.
One think that struck me about the language used by the staff when they are treating patients is the exacting nature of how they communicate. There are no statements that could be mis-understood to reflect a better state of health in the patient than actually exists. Blood pressure, pulse and responsive level stats all mean other staff members are completely aware of the health state of a patient.
Business could do well to pay attention to this level of clarity in their communication. I am sure bosses would be better informed and be able to make better business decisions with the truth, rather than with ‘fluffed up’ and carefully worded reports about the health of other departments.
One area that often ‘fluffs-up’ the vital statistics is the sales function. I don’t think that sales people are dis-honest, they just have a healthy dose of optimism, which can lead to prospect opportunities being flagged as healthy and ready for conversion when in reality they are dead and should be reconciled to the morgue.
With the end of the quarter only a few short weeks away, it’s worth examining your prospect list honestly and triaging what’s worth following up and what opportunities are no longer worth saving.
So, whether you have a dedicated sales function within your business or like most small businesses you have to don the sales hat yourself, here are some key questions you should be asking your prospects to ensure your pipeline is really healthy.
- Are we currently winning your business? As I said, sales people are optimists and we are all guilty of hearing a little of what we want to hear, not actually what is said. So if you want to know if you are at the head of the pack to win some business with a prospect, you need to ask them. Outright. Don’t dress it up and hide the question in a carefully veiled statement because you are afraid of the answer. If it’s a no, it’s time to remove the prospect from your pipeline and focus elsewhere.
- What will prevent us from closing the deal this month? This is a vital question if you want to understand the potential blockages you will need to manage to get the win into this quarter’s figures. Best to find out now than on the last day of the month when you are chasing the close.
- Are the key decision makers available? You may have got the new business agreed but the business is not closed until it’s closed. That may mean having your prospects boss sign the agreement or purchasing to agree the budget. If one of those key people are sunning themselves on the beach somewhere you are likely to end up with a good start to next quarter and missing this one.
Having a clear picture of your sales pipeline and the true health of your prospects gives you a much better chance of achieving that important end of quarter result. Ensure you are clear about what’s an opportunity and what’s not by asking these types of questions.
For details of how IntouchCRM can help you manage your sales pipeline and team interaction, check out the Leads and Sales section on our support site.