Once, as a sales manager, I had a sales rep whose pipeline always had more potential deals in it than anyone else in the group. The problem was that he also had the lowest number of closed deals. For a while I thought this was because he was attempting to show how much positive activity he had going on. However, after several meetings with this sales rep, I discovered the sad truth; the customer was telling him one thing and was hearing what he wanted to hear. Note; this was not done to try to fool me. He actually believed what he was telling me through his pipeline until I started drilling down on each deal. I asked questions like:
- Are you speaking with the decision maker?
- Are you speaking with the person who can sign the order?
- Do they have budget or can they get it?
- When do they want to implement our solution?
- Have we delivered a proof of concept?
After hearing the answers to these questions, I realized he was somehow convincing himself he had a good prospect. He had made the leap from hearing “I’m part of a team that’s evaluating solutions” to “I’m the decision maker.”
As a sales rep you have to be realistic. Good news or bad news, you have to hear…and face…the facts. Nothing will get you into more trouble with your sales managers or disappoint you more, than inflating your pipeline based on what you imagined you heard. Again, I am not suggesting this is intentional on your part, but it is extremely self-destructive nonetheless.
Part-Time Sales Management