This deal was on your pipeline report last quarter. It was in the same stage at that time, too. The only thing that has changed is that you’ve had one phone call with the prospective client.
The same deal was on your pipeline report the quarter before that. It was in the same stage of your sales process then. Close to six months ago, this prospect suggested that they are interested in what you sell.
This deal wasn’t a new deal three quarters ago. Three quarters ago it had a close date that indicated it would close in 90 days. That would’ve been two quarters ago.
If we scroll all the way back, way back into ancient history, will see that this opportunity started years ago. And back then, it may, in fact, have been an opportunity. There may have been real interest. More still, there may have been a compelling event. Too much time is past.
Where This Deal Belongs
It’s never pleasant to take an opportunity out of your pipeline. It feels like giving up. However, it isn’t giving up.
Some opportunities take a long time to develop. Some opportunities take a long time to work through the process of making a decision, changing, and buying something new from someone new. As much as you would like to compress the time, that is sometimes difficult to do, especially in a larger, more complex sale with high switching costs.
Moving an opportunity back to the appropriate stage, even if that stage is “qualified,” doesn’t mean that you can no longer pursue the opportunity or the prospect. It does mean that you cannot forecast that opportunity.
The reason so many pipelines are full of opportunities that are not ripe and have not moved in quarters is because the salesperson needs those opportunities as cover for not having developed additional opportunities, opportunities that may be driven by a compelling need to change.
Some deals take many months to win. Some deals take years to win. By selling effectively, you can compress the time it takes to win in the time it takes to deliver better results for your dream client. There are, however, some deals that require greater time and more considerable effort.
An accurate pipeline report doesn’t demand that you give up. It just calls for an accurate accounting on your forecast and additional opportunities that you can win while you work these deals.
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"In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall."
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