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If you talk to the average sales manager, you’ll probably hear the same thing about the sales funnel: Bigger is better! More leads, they’ll tell you, means more deals.This “more, more, more!” philosophy is nothing new — it has been the predominant thinking about sales for years.

And it’s wrong. Or at least it can be.

The truth is that the quality of opportunities in your Pipeline is often more important than the quantity of opportunities in your Pipeline. The more low-probability opportunities you have clogging your Pipeline, the more time your reps have to waste sifting through it to find the few opportunities that they actually have a chance to convert into deals.

In fact, the traditional funnel (the one that looks like that classic upside-down pyramid) could be a red herring. In most cases, it’s better to have a funnel that looks more like a martini glass than a traditional funnel. That is to say: A funnel that has a fair amount of drop off in the initial stages and then very little after that.

A funnel like the one on the right means that your reps are spending their time wisely. Most of the opportunities they devote considerable effort to (by taking a meeting or giving a product demo) are ultimately becoming deals.

But the question is: What can you do to make your sales funnel look more like the one on the right?

The answer: assess your opportunities early and be as stringent as you can about qualifying them. This way, low-probability deals get weeded out early and therefore don’t suck up as much of your reps’ time.

To do this, you must teach your reps to be able to quickly identify low-probability opportunities, by looking at things like:

  1. Opportunity Size

  2. Opportunity Age

  3. Deal Size Changes

Identifying deals that are larger and older than average or that have had their expected value changed frequently should be purged from the Pipeline as early as possible. Doing so will optimize your reps’ time and help shorten your sales cycle and increase your win rate.

Curious about what else you can do to improve the health of your Pipeline. Get our new FREE eBook: “The Definitive Guide to Pipeline Management”.

Mike Baker
Mike Baker is the Content Strategy Manager at InsightSquared, where he helps distribute original eBooks, articles and guides about data-driven sales and marketing. He has a BA in English and Journalism from Oberlin College.
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