Sales Strategy: Improve Pipeline Velocity

Pipeline velocity and funnel conversion are the two metrics every sales leader lives and die by. If you need a refresher, pipeline velocity can be defined as the rate at which deals move through your sales process. If you’ve ever worked in enterprise sales, you know that high funnel conversion rates without efficient pipeline velocity mean nothing.

In this post, our anonymous content contributor and sales strategy master dives into how to improve sales pipeline velocity by getting a fast “No” from a prospect”. You might be asking yourself, “Why would I want to hear a “No” from my prospect and how is that going to help me improve my sales pipeline velocity?”

A long, slow “Maybe” will destroy your sales team’s momentum, and if the goal is rapid and scalable growth, momentum is everything.

Pipeline Velocity: When Your Prospect Tells You “No”, Say “Thank You.”

When you get a “No” from the prospect or customer, say “thank you”, gather their feedback, and move onto the next deal. You can retreat to your Manhattan or Old Fashioned later. In case this concept of thanking your prospects for turning you down is new to you, here are a few things you might say:

  • Thank you for your consideration and your time.
  • Thank you for being honest and for letting us know quickly.
  • Thank you for trusting us with your critical challenges.

Be sincere and authentic. Ask that they provide feedback about the process of receiving the sales proposal.

Pipeline Velocity:  Force Your Prospect’s Hand with Smarter Proposals.

Regardless of how well you structure the proposal, some customers won’t respond. They will forget, run out of time, lose budget, pick a competitor, the project will be delayed until the next fiscal year or the New Moon, etc.

Unpopular opinion:  When a customer or prospect ignores your proposal, they feel bad about it. This is an emotion you can capitalize on.

It happens often––more than we’d like to think. To force their hand, to make them respond to you, I recommend putting an expiration date on every proposal. That way, each party is aligned upfront and expectations are clear. When the expiration date comes and goes, the customer would need to send a clear signal to keep those “terms” alive. After the date, you would then need to recalibrate your resources and reset expectations with your customer or prospect. If you have a good Sales Operations Manager, they will have an SOP in place for you to handle this kind of deal and get it out of your committed sales pipeline.

Treat the Sales Proposal Like a Deliverable and… a Proposal.

Share the sales proposal internally so your team can weigh in and provide perspective from other projects and make it matter.

I recall, early in running a company I founded, that when I created the proposal for our prospect––an up and coming Director of Marketing––he’d share our proposal with his entire marketing leadership team. It was a one-pager with deliverables, timelines, and cost. We didn’t get the deal.

Since then, I assumed that every proposal I sent would be:

  • shared internally and be a representation of, not only my company and our capabilities, but also of my customer.
  • saved and stored for weeks, months, and even years so the company could review our offer and capabilities in the future.
  • used as a way to compare my company’s offer against our other competitors.
  • it would live on and weeks, months and years later would be reviewed and re-assessed. So, it should be a very positive reflection.

Here’s a pro tip. At the end of every sales proposal, as a special touch, add a one-page Executive Overview. The Executive Overview was personalized for each prospect or client and clearly outlined the following:

  • Why we wanted their business
  • How we saw their business
  • An overview of our company with clear and specific differentiators
  • Our view of the work and the measures of success

Yes, this takes a lot of time. What does it tell you?

Learn on the Job––Accountability Metrics. 

When you lose, you lose.

When you win you win.

Learning is the investment in either case.

When you lose, ask more questions about why you lost and what you could have done differently.

Record, Codify and track.

Every month, quarter, and year analyze the most common reasons your customers give you for losing the proposal. Know and study this data. This data will inform either your assumptions about the market, your product, your pricing/packaging, or how well your company pitches its work.

Improving your pipeline velocity is simple:

Do fewer proposals, ask more questions, and learn from your losses.

Read more sales strategies from this anonymous sales guru here:

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