Enhance Your Sales Process to Close More Deals. Part 2: Identifying the cause of drop-offs in your pipeline.

Last month, we talked about how important it is to take a closer look at your sales process if you want to close more deals. We broke it down into three components: the map, the measurements, and spotting drop-offs.

Now, let’s talk about how to troubleshoot what’s causing those drop-offs so you can make positive changes (and convert more leads).

When you see dramatic drop-offs — we’re talking big numbers — between key stages in your pipeline, this is usually a sign that there’s an opportunity to make some tweaks and regain some lost ground.

Here are some common causes we typically see:

 

Cause 1: Not communicating value.

If you push your prospect through the pipeline without any kind of personal sales engagement with them, you risk losing them. 

Think about it. How many times have you received an email or a direct mail piece that feels disconnected? You might read it and think “That’s kind of interesting, but I don’t really have any use for it.” 

Unfortunately, we see this in sales a lot. That’s why we encourage sales teams to reach out to prospects personally with customized information.  If you communicate value before advancing them to the next stage in the pipeline, you have a better chance of keeping them in the funnel and winning them in the end.

 

Cause 2: Unclear milestones.

This issue shows up in two big ways. The first way is in your process itself: If you don’t have clearly defined milestones — or any milestones at all — your sales team has no clear signal when to engage your prospective buyer. You might have the most enthusiastic, knowledgeable sales rep, but if they show up at the wrong time, it doesn’t matter how great they are. They’ll either overwhelm the buyer too soon or annoy them too late (and damage your brand in the process).

The second problem you might see without proper milestones is the opposite of the first one: Instead of going in for the sale too fast, the sales team doesn’t follow up at all. Milestones help signal the next step in moving that lead forward. Without them, important steps can be overlooked.

 

Cause 3: Accountability (or lack thereof).

You might have clear milestones and a solid process, but if your team treats deadlines like a moving target or the size of their current deal keeps decreasing, you have an accountability problem.

There’s no shortage of leadership advice. Sometimes, the only reason the deadlines move or the deals are lost is that there’s no accountability. Reports are filed and that’s all she wrote.

No one wants to waste valuable sales time. But it’s important to get on a call or in a room together and review results on a regular basis. For some people, all it takes is one question to drive better performance: “Why didn’t this deal happen?”

 

Cause 4: Wrong audience.

It doesn’t make sense to assume every contact you acquire is going to be a fit for your business, nor does it make sense to waste resources marketing to individuals who are not a fit.

But let’s assume you’ve created the content, and launched your campaign and the leads are pouring in. Yet the sales team is having real issues getting any of the leads to get on a call.

Sales and comedy have this in common: If you’re playing to the wrong audience, it can cost you.

You can have the most brilliant value proposition, on-target pricing, and a killer pitch, but if it goes to someone who can’t make buying decisions, you’ve wasted time and money.

A better use of time is crafting a detailed buyer profile that sales and marketing can use to build effective messaging and materials.

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