To put it simply, if your sales pipeline velocity is so slow that it takes more than a couple weeks to convert prospects into new customers, then your pipeline is too slow.
Contrary to popular belief, it SHOULDN’T take months or even more than a few weeks to take a lead through the entire pipeline.
Not only that, but the truth is that the slower your pipeline velocity is, the less likely you are to close any new deals at all!
That said, I’m sharing how to accelerate your pipeline so that you can convert more leads into paying customers in less time than ever before. Additionally, I’m also why you can’t survive unless you accelerate your pipeline now.
Bottom line: Your sales pipeline is supposed to be anything but slow. If you’re currently dragging your feet, then you’re actually setting yourself up for sales failure.
The SLOWER Your Pipeline, the LESS Likely You Are to Close Deals
The slower your sales pipeline velocity, the less likely you are to close deals.
In other words, the longer it takes you to try and convert a prospect into a paying customer, the less likely you are to actually convert them.
Slow sales pipelines are BAD sales pipelines! The faster you can siphon a lead down the entire length of the pipeline, the better.
But, what exactly qualifies as a slow pipeline?
There’s no benchmark number for how fast your pipeline should be, and factors like target company size and scope of a prospect’s pain point can impact how long it takes to close a deal.
HOWEVER, if it takes an average of more than a few weeks to close a deal with a potential customer, then your pipeline is too slow, regardless of company size or pain point scope.
If you can cut your pipeline down to a few weeks, then your odds of closing deals goes up.
But Brian! It takes the average sales team more than 100 days to close on a lead! Isn’t a few weeks an unreasonably low amount of time to ask?
Well, if you copy an average sales team’s sales approach, then you should expect average results. However, if you take an un-average, no-nonsense approach, then there isn’t any reason why you can’t speed-up your pipeline.
Furthermore, here’s exactly WHY your odds of closing deals decreases the longer your pipeline gets.
You Have Less Control Over the Sales Process
First and most importantly, the slower your pipeline the less control you have over the selling process.
Because, it’s easier to control a situation when you have to control it for less time. If a situation drags on forever, you start to fatigue and loosen your grip.
With less control of the selling process, your prospect gains control, and NOTHING good ever happens when a prospect is in control…
Because, contrary to popular belief, your sales prospects literally have no idea what their pain points are or how to solve them. If they did, then they would have already solved them.
Therefore, unless you’re in control of the selling process, the prospect will take over. It’s as if you’re asking a child who has no idea how to drive to get into the driver’s seat.
Prospects Will Start to Think That THEY Know What’s Best
Once the prospect has control, they’ll start to think that they know what’s best for them. And, why wouldn’t they? You basically handed them control on a silver platter, so why wouldn’t they assume that they know what’s best?
When the prospect believes that they know what’s best for them, they’ll treat you like a subordinate. By a subordinate, they’ll start telling you what they need and how they need it as if you aren’t an expert at what you do.
Meanwhile, you’ll be thinking to yourself, ‘Actually, no, that’s not what you need, but okay’. Despite the fact that you know the prospect is incorrect, you’ll go along with it because you don’t want to risk losing them.
Suddenly, you’re bowing to the prospect’s every command...
Potential Customers Will Start Looking to Your Competitors
At this point, the prospect believes they know what they need to fix their pain point. Meanwhile, you’re on the sidelines watching them make bad decisions despite the fact that you’re the expert who actually knows what to do.
Before you know it, the prospect will start treating you as an option. More specifically, they’ll start to treat you like a replaceable vendor who they can easily substitute with somebody else.
And, again, why wouldn’t they treat you as an option? You gave them control, you let them dominate! That said, why wouldn’t they shop around a little bit to see who is the best person to help solve their problems?
Suddenly, the prospect is hitting up your competitors because they could give the prospect a better deal.
Your Conversion Rate Drops to Zero
In the end, you lose.
Your sales velocity was too slow, so it became difficult for you to control the process. Because it was difficult for you to control, the prospect took control, assumed the role of the expert, and kicked you to the curb once they found a ‘better’ option.
Bottom line: Accelerating the stages of your pipeline isn’t just a plus, rather, it’s a must if you want any hope of consistently closing sales deals!
It’s NOT the Prospect’s Fault That Your Sales Pipeline Is Slow
Most B2B sales reps like to blame potential customers for the fact that their pipeline is so slow and makes it hard for them to close deals.
They say things like, ‘If only my prospect wasn’t so distracted, then I could have gotten them to the next stage’ or ‘My prospects just didn’t know what they wanted so the pipeline went extremely slow’.
It’s funny because these same salespeople who like to blame prospects for their problems also like to give themselves the credit when they do actually close a deal with a new customer.
That said, you can’t blame prospects for your losses while also taking credit for your wins!
At the end of the day, if you want to become the best sales leader version of yourself, then you need to be accountable for your losses just as much as your wins.
Once you become accountable for your losses, you have the ability to turn those losses into wins. Moreover, once you accept responsibility for your slow pipeline, then you empower yourself to actually improve the pipeline and close more deals in less time.
You’re the One Who Gave-Up Control of the Sales Process
Remember, the reason why your pipeline is slow is because YOU gave up control of the sales process in the first place. You had control, but then you gave it up.
That didn’t need to happen, it was a choice.
You can’t accelerate your pipeline unless you stay in control of your sales pipeline stages, so make that an absolute priority from the moment you start lead generation.
If You Blame Prospects, You’ll Never Improve
Like I said above, you can’t blame other people for your losses while also taking credit for your wins. Why should you get to take credit for the good things while pushing off the bad things onto others?
Not only is that hypocritical, but saying that you’re not the one responsible for your losses means that you’re a victim of the situation. When you’re a victim, there’s nothing you can do other than just, well, be a victim.
Therefore, you’ll never change your situation for the better unless you become accountable for your losses, including the fact that you can’t close deals because your sales pipeline is so slow.
Being Accountable for Your Losses Is True Empowerment
The moment you choose to be accountable for your losses is the moment you empower yourself.
Rather than choosing to be the victim of a situation that you caused in the first place, you’re saying, ‘Yes, it is my fault that I couldn’t convert that new lead into a customer, and because it’s my fault, I have the power to change the situation’.
When you’re at fault for your losses, you have the power to change the situation - not your prospects or your team members - YOU!
That said, get okay being at fault for your losses, including the difficulty you have closing deals because of your slow pipeline velocity. The moment you take accountability is the moment you put power back into your hands to change the situation for the better.
Here’s How to Accelerate Your Sales Pipeline to Close Deals in Weeks
You have every reason to accelerate your pipeline and no reason not to.
Actually, achieving your sales goals is nearly impossible if it takes weeks on end to siphon leads through your pipeline!
Lucky for you, accelerating your pipeline to close more deals in less time than ever before with these techniques is actually easier than dealing with the repercussions of a slow pipeline.
Start With a Repeatable, Automate-able, and Scalable Sales Strategy
First thing’s first, do you have a sales strategy ready to deploy right at this moment?
By that, I mean do you have a full plan to convert new leads into paying customers?
If not, what makes you think that you can accelerate your pipeline without a plan ready to go? That’s like saying you think you want to become a faster runner without having an exercise plan to make it happen.
Believe it or not, but most sales teams don’t actually have a drawn out strategy. And if they do have a strategy, it’s subpar to say the least.
Therefore, if you don’t have a solid strategy that is easy to repeat and ready to deploy right now, that’s your first order of business. Until you have that, it’s nearly impossible to accelerate your pipeline.
Cut Your Sales Cycle Down to 4 Different Stages
If your sales cycle has more than 4 different stages, then it has too many stages.
The truth is that your cycle really only needs 4 stages, including:
- Lead generation
- Lead qualification
- Analyzing the qualified lead and proposing solutions
- Closing with a final sales pitch
Of course, the longer your sales cycle is the longer it’ll take a lead to make it down the entire pipeline.
Therefore, cut your cycle down to include the only 4 necessary stages. Not only will it help accelerate your pipeline, but it’ll simplify your life more than you can imagine.
Don’t Make Cold Calls to Anybody but the Decision-Makers
When making cold calls to your target companies, who specifically are you making your calls to?
In short- You shouldn’t be making calls to ANYBODY but the decision-makers. More specifically, the individual at the target company who has the authority to make final purchasing decisions.
Far too often, salespeople make calls to people who aren’t the decision-makers, which results in them getting hit with, ‘Sorry, I need to check with my superior before setting up a meeting’.
This slows the pipeline because the fate of the next meeting now rests on that person going to the decision-maker to confirm. You could have immediately set up the next meeting and kept the pipeline moving along quickly had you just called the decision-maker right away!
Bottom line: Your sales targets should always be the people who have the authority to make the final purchasing decision.
Do Lead Qualification ASAP After the First Phone Call
The second stage of the pipeline is lead qualification. This is the meeting in which you ensure that the prospect is, in fact, a qualified lead who should stay in the pipeline.
Many salespeople shoot themselves in the foot here because after making the initial cold call, they set the qualification meeting for many days and sometimes weeks into the future.
Unfortunately during the time between the initial call and qualification the meeting, the prospect:
- Starts to lose interest;
- Wonders whether or not they really want to talk to you; and
- Gets caught-up in other matters only to cancel the meeting.
To avoid getting canceled on or having to fight for the prospect’s attention, set the qualification meeting for the next day.
Also, send them a follow-up email immediately after the initial call reminding them of the meeting.
The idea is to not give them the opportunity to lose interest or get distracted. The moment the prospect loses interest is the moment the pipeline turns into an unnecessarily slow ordeal.
PLEASE Don’t Send a Free Proposal to Prospects!
Please, PLEASE don’t send a free initial proposal to prospects before you sign a deal with them. That is, at least, if you don’t want your pipeline velocity to slow down to a snail’s pace.
The moment you send a free proposal to a prospect is the moment 100% of the control of the sales process goes into their hands. You’ll send the proposal and then suddenly be waiting around for ages to get a response from them.
Before you know it, you’ll be sending one of those, ‘Hey, just circling back!’ emails only to get hit with radio silence.
Best case scenario: the prospect responds and wants to move forward but only after several days or weeks of waiting. Worst case scenario (which happens most of the time): the prospect turns into a ghost.
There isn’t a single healthy sales pipeline out there that knows what a free initial proposal is. That said, just don’t send them!
Use the Prospect’s Emotions to Your Advantage
You can make people do almost anything for you by uncovering what it is that they want most and then showing them that you have that thing in your pocket.
Similarly, you can take a prospect down the entire pipeline in a matter of days if you show them that you know how to help them achieve their biggest business goals through solving their pain point with your deliverable.
The idea is to sell them the outcome that they want to get to with your product/service being the vehicle that gets them to that outcome. That way, you harness the power of their emotions to keep the pipeline moving along quickly.
Think of it like this- If somebody told you that they knew what you needed to do to achieve your sales goals, you wouldn’t hesitate to say, ‘Tell me more’.
Stop Trying to Control the Entire Sales Pipeline Yourself
If you’re like most sales leaders, then you have a difficult time letting go of control. I’d hesitate to say that you’re a control freak, but you do have a hard time letting your team members jump in and manage the pipeline.
When it comes to pipeline acceleration, this is bad news: You can’t speed-up your pipeline alone. You need the help of your team to get the ball rolling faster!
That said, get with your team and delegate different stages of the pipeline to individual team members. With everybody focused on their own stage, efficiency goes up, the pipeline speeds up, and the number of deals you’re able to close at a given time increases.
You can either be a control freak and sacrifice sales velocity which makes it harder to close new deals, or you can give up some control for the sake of long-term success.
Final Thoughts on Accelerating Your Sales Pipeline
Accelerating your sales pipeline isn’t an option. Rather, it’s a MUST if you want any chance of closing more new deals on a consistent basis.
Not to mention that nobody likes a slow pipeline - not you, your team members, or even your potential customers!
At this point, you have every reason to accelerate your pipeline and no reason not to (unless your goal is to close fewer deals than what you’re capable of closing).
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