Jump on the internet and you will find multiple articles around the topic of filling the sales funnel. Managing the sales funnel and the associated sales numbers are important to create sustainable and predictable sales.
The question that must be asked and answered by sales professionals is: Are you filling the sales funnel or filling a need? Because a salesperson can have a sales funnel that is bursting full---of unqualified opportunities. It’s the age-old problem of confusing quantity of opportunities with quality of opportunities.
Why do we continue to experience this same mistake in sales and sales management? It’s a pretty simple answer.
Measuring the quality of the opportunities takes more work, thinking and discernment.
Measuring the quality of opportunities requires a different mindset. It’s a mindset that doesn’t suffer from scarcity.
It’s a mindset that firmly believes that not every prospect deserves to enter the sales funnel or stay in the sales funnel.
It’s a mindset that the company only works with prospects and customers that truly have a need AND a commitment to fill that need.
Ask the following questions to make sure your sales team isn’t confusing quantity of leads over quality of leads. These questions will help you discern if you are filling the sales funnel or filling a need.
1. Does your sales team know how to interview prospects to ensure they meet your ideal client profile? It’s one thing to discuss the criteria of an ideal client. It’s another thing to design questions by which to vet the opportunity against such criteria. For example, your company has determined through their win-loss analysis that your best clients are innovative, value relationships and buy on value.
Show me the interview questions in your sales playbook that vet prospects to see if they are really innovative, value relationships and buy on value. Without these qualifying questions, your sales team might be filling the sales funnel, not a true need.
For example, a truly innovative prospect is a company with a failure culture. Innovative companies have experience in winning and failing because they are always on the cutting edge of business. Innovative companies are comfortable with risks. They try out new ideas and test new services.
Some of their risk-taking produces wins. Some of their risk-taking produces failure. Innovative companies are comfortable with both scenarios.
Create interview questions with your sales team to ask at the early stages of the sales process. When they find a match on ideal client profile, there is a higher probability that there is also a match on solutions your company provides.
2. Does your sales team know how to vet potential opportunities for their commitment to change, grow and improve? Every prospect will tell you they are committed to change, however, when the proverbial sales rubber hits the road, your sales team might discover that the prospect is all talk and no walk. They’ve filled the funnel but they have missed filling a need due to lack of commitment on the prospect’s part.
Companies that are committed to change display the following behaviors during sales conversations:
- They agree to the necessary time to have a deeper conversation. Committed prospects recognize that the right solution will not be achieved in a 20-minute conversation.
- They are open to including other decision makers. Committed prospects know that input from other buying influences is important in order to gather all questions, criteria and concerns before making a decision or crafting a proposal.
- They aren’t cheap. If the problem is big enough to fix, committed prospects aren’t willing to settle for a less than average solution.
Are you filling the sales funnel or filling a need?