When The Ship Misses The Harbour, It Is Seldom the Harbour’s Fault

Recently I had a discussion with a service provider in the life insurance space about 2 (of many) key results areas for companies –

  • Developing revenue from new customers, and
  • Growing revenue from existing customers.

Opportunities are constantly under evaluation in both categories, but there is frustration around the lack of progress in ‘getting the sale’.  After asking a few questions it became apparent that their sales cycle had not been articulated, and there were quantitative and qualitative shortcoming in how they assessed opportunities .  Their results are unpredictable and inconsistent – with negative impacts on operations (“we have to hire based on our sales successes”) and finance (“budgeting and forecasting is a nightmare”).

I am sure that at one point in time we have all been with an organization facing this type of dilemma!

In my experience there is a strong correlation between consistent sales success and following a defined process around the pursuit and acquisition of new customers, and developing incremental business from existing customers.

I am a big proponent of sales pipeline “funnel” management.   At a high level it speaks to the discipline of getting organized around opportunities and the sales process.  On a more granular level it is about the detailed opportunity assessment process based on best available quantitative and qualitative information.  To strengthen their sales pipeline, I help companies understand and implement key assessment criteria:

  • The fit – do opportunities meet the criteria of what we are prepared to do (knowing when to say ‘no’ can save you a lot of time and aggravation)
  • Do we have a Champion in the prospect’s organization (and are they at a decision making or strong influencer level)
  • Summarizing opportunities by undertaking an opportunity triage process. By this I mean:
    • Revenue forecast
    • Industry vertical,
    • Probability of close,
    • Lead source, and
    • Risk level (high/medium/low).  Let’s face it, not every customer solution is the same.  Have you effectively evaluated the solution being proposed, and the delivery and operational risks that may exist (to you and your customer)?

Developing sustainable top-line revenue is an outcome of filling your sales pipeline “funnel” with opportunities and regularly managing them through your opportunity assessment process – this requires leadership, commitment and discipline.

I would love to hear about your experiences!

Posted in SALES & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Tagged with: ,
3 comments on “When The Ship Misses The Harbour, It Is Seldom the Harbour’s Fault
  1. Dawn Comber says:

    Hi Mike,

    Insightful and thanks for your thoughts … I have 2 questions rather than a thought: Is this sales funnel/pipeline adaptable to small business (solopreneurs – in my case). If so, how do I adapt it?

    • mikenurse says:

      Great question – the answer is yes! As a solopreneur responsible for getting everything in your business planned and accomplished, you have limited resources. The sales pipeline/funnel bring focus to all of your marketing, business development and sales efforts – the key is to keep it simple. Call me (416 709 0585) and I will help you work through the steps and share some resources. ~ Mike

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