Don’t Let Your Pursuit of the Dream Client Destroy Your Pipeline

You have been working on your best client for months. Maybe years. You have developed the relationships. You have discovered every bit of dissatisfaction. You have worked with them to build a vision of how to achieve a better outcome. You have presented your solution. You have built the consensus.

And now, thanks to all of your hard work, you have won the client! What could be better? Nothing, right?

All Is Not Well

If you are like many salespeople, you have had exercised a laser-like focus on getting the deal to this point. That laser-like focus has not been without its costs. What is the cost, you ask? The cost is the time you should have been prospecting.

Having the biggest and best dream client in process causes all other activities to fall by the wayside. It creates a false sense of security, especially when it is progressing perfectly through the sales process. When you are asked about your activity metrics, you simply reply that you are working on the biggest deal in your pipeline and that it is moving forward. Many (most) sales managers will encourage you to win the big dream client and (wrongly) give you a pass on the activity.

Now you have updated your pipeline, changing the dream client status to win. But all is not well. A quick glance at the pipeline shows that it is painfully empty. Because you have had the dream client as your quota-maker, you have neglected to prospect.

Sales Activity Math Made Simple

There is no activity that is more uniformly and routinely neglected than prospecting. This is never truer than when you have a big dream client working with you towards a deal. Discontinuing prospecting activity while you are working through the process means that your next quarter, or the one after that, is a grim and apocalyptic nightmare.

It doesn’t have to work out this way.

To ensure your next quarter (and the one after that) are strong, you don’t need a fancy math equation based on the value of the prospects in your pipeline. You don’t a Google-like algorithm, either. You don’t even need to weight the averages. Here is simple math equation to keep you honest, to produce more consistent results, and to build the replacement value into the pipeline.

Time Spent Working On Dream Client = Time Spent Prospecting for Replacement Dream Client

Spend an amount of time equal to the time you are spending on your dream client working on your pipeline.

No Excuses

There is no valid or reasonable excuse for discontinuing your prospecting activity. But let me disabuse you of them, just in case.

1. I Am Too Busy

No matter how big, no matter how complex, and no matter how many hoops you are required to jump through to win the client, there is still space between the stages of the sales process. The space between the stages is best used to build the future, a future with your dream client as an actual client, and a future that includes a new dream client.

Use the time between the stages to prospect.

2. I Can’t Give Another Prospect My Full Attention

There is no doubt that some prospects take a lot of time and attention. But it is also quite possible that your hard work will result in your having to manage winning more than one dream client simultaneously.

Truth be told, it is exceedingly rare that a dream client requires your full attention for longer than a week at a time with no break for other activities. You have to give your dream client your full attention when it is necessary, taking all of the actions required to advance the deal, and then switch your complete attention to prospecting (or working other prospects in the pipeline).

Prospecting acts as an insurance policy should the unthinkable occur and you not win your dream client. It also insures that next quarter isn’t destroyed by your failure to prospect for weeks (or months) on end.

Be completely obsessed with your dream client! That is what it takes to win. But give yourself over to prospecting while you are waiting for all of the in between activities to occur.

How about an example? The contract is in legal.

Trust me; you have the time to prospect. Get after it.

3. I Will Rebuild the Pipeline After I Win This Deal

The hard truth here is that isn’t up to you when or how long it takes to rebuild and develop your pipeline. All that you can control is your activity (and, of course, you can always work on your effectiveness).

Have you ever had one of those weeks when every phone number dialed turned into an appointment and a prospect? Ever have a number of weeks when, despite the focused and disciplined activity, nothing turned into a prospect?

Here is some more sales activity math made simple:

Desperation for Prospects = Difficulty in Acquiring Prospects

Prospects develop on their own time-frames, time-frames that have nothing to do with your need to build (or rebuild) your pipeline. It is a provable scientific and mathematical certainty that your desperation makes prospects harder to acquire. My advice is that you not try to break this scientific law of nature.

Conclusion

The pursuit of your biggest and best dream client can dominate your time and your focus. But don’t let the work you do to win the dream client destroy your future sales by eliminating your prospecting activity. No excuses. Each hour on the dream client needs to be matched an hour building your future dream clients.

Questions

1. Does progress on winning the dream client give you a false sense of security? Does it dominate your thinking and prevent you from prospecting?

2. How much time do you dedicate to prospecting and pipeline building activities each week? Is this time reduced when you have a dream client progressing through the pipeline?

3. Have you ever won the dream client only to have it disappear just as quickly?

4. Do you have a solid pipeline for the next two quarters?

5. What excuses do you need to eliminate to prospect like you should?

Read my interview with Tom Peters (Part One and Part Two).

Read my Blogs.com featured guest post on the Top Ten Sales blogs.

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Filed under: Sales 3.0

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