Many sales people I work have Funnel Vision, they focus more on the state of their pipeline or funnel than the specific opportunities in their pipeline. It is yet another example of quantity being more important to sales people than quality of the opportunities in their pipeline, and as result they underperform in a number of ways. Some are forced to take this view by their companies, especially those that tell their reps they to have 5-times quota for the 30 days; 10 times for 60 days, etc. That’s what they ask for, and that’s what they get. Theory being that the level of coverage will ensure success. Problem is that with many of these same groups, quota attainment is not that great. What’s the point of having X times coverage of a quota most don’t make? Click To Tweet
Having a lot of opportunities is a good theory, but it also leads to the very problem they are trying to solve, i.e. more sales/revenue. Mostly because the illusion of plenty distorts facts, and more importantly, activity. The reality is that what sales people emotionally believe their prospect base to be, triggers their urgency to prospect. Having a load of a “load” of names in your pipeline, just for the sake of meeting the coverage KPI, chokes off activity that actually lead to sales. This requires that you have rules as to what constitutes a real prospect, defined in a way that makes it easier to disqualify them, not in a way that anything that looks good qualifies.
In the past I have spoken about one basic threshold, that is a Next Step. Let’s be straight, if the prospect is not willing to give you a next step, especially as outlined in the post linked to above, what do you have? You have potential, a potential opportunity, not a real opportunity. It could indeed have great potential, but if you do not have a path to actualizing it, then what’s it worth? Yet many pipeline I review are loaded with opportunities that not only is there not a next step, the buyer in question is not even aware they were forecasted to buy.
One friendly fellow, nice guy, but could not sell a banana to a monkey, had 42 opportunities in his pipeline, many at mid to late stage of the pipe, 39 of which had no plans that included the prospect. When I asked about some, he had hoped to do this, or was looking to do that, and all without the prospect’s idea. As someone once said hope is not a plan, nor should it be a stage in a pipeline.
Pipelines need to be activity based, the best funnel management process I have worked with is where we removed all stages from the sales process and pipeline, no weighting, no probabilities, no misleading labels. Nothing that would allow subjectivity to be the driving factor, and put the focus on activities; which need to be done, and which have been completed. This forced sales people to focus on how to best execute the activities that have consistently led to success. Activities that when not completed, with the prospect, were a clear indication that this opportunity was not real, and needs to be replaced with one that is. No need to deal with sales people’s optimism, pessimism, or their stories, no subjectivity, no sunshine, no other matter filling or clogging the pipeline.
If you want to avoid the downside of Funnel Vision, focus on activities instead, do, measure, review, adjust, and go and execute again, only better. This forces sales people to practice their activities, not stories.