After analyzing numerous sales pipelines for clients so far in 2012 we are seeing a trend has continued to gain strength over the last 8 quarters, and that trend is that the competition is stronger than ever! What a surprise you say to yourself, you’ve known that for along time. The real question is; do you know who your biggest competitor is? Is it competitor X or competitor Y, or perhaps that new company that just moved into your best territory?
The answer may be a shock to you; your biggest competitor may actually be the dreaded “No Decision”.
No decisions are usually deals whose decision timeline keeps slipping well past their forecasted close dates without substantive reasons from the account. The rep will give reasons for the ongoing slippage such as, “Someone is on vacation,” There is a new senior executive that needs to be briefed,” or the client has changed internal processes that must be completed before the sale can close. The truth is that poor prospect qualification and selling too low in an organization are typically the two main root causes to no decision deals.
Poor Qualification – Cause 1 in Most No Decisions
Poor prospect qualification often results from sales reps self-selecting sales targets.
Each rep has a unique concept of what the perfect prospect looks like. If your company does not have a lead generation program running in sales or marketing, then every rep is forced to fill their pipeline with any and all possible fits. (Sales reps know better than to have too few deals next to their name).
As reps try to force fit too many wrong prospects into your products or service two things happen:
- They waste valuable internal resources pricing and proposing deals.
- They cause your overall sales pipeline to become bloated with non-qualified deals.
Calling Too Low – Cause 2 in No Decisions
The second major reason for a no decision is calling too low within a target account. You may have the best product or solution but if you rely on another person to articulate the value and benefits your chances of success are greatly reduced. “Call high or die” is true, but despite their best efforts sales reps are often relegated to influencers and researchers. The fastest way to lose a deal can be for a sales person to go over the head of one of these people, but savvy sales leaders know that there are ways to do it in a less threatening ways. This requires a little research to determine a good strategy. Getting a current client to sponsor an executive referral or engaging with a decision maker at trade or industry event are a couple of examples but there are many more. Get creative with your rep, it just requires some thought.
Purging those “No Decisions” from Your Sales Pipeline
Take the time to really inspect your current pipeline. If you have deals that are older than 150% of your average sales cycle it may mean they have gone “no decision” and you pipeline is overstated. Another way to view it is if more that 15% of your current qualified pipeline has aged more that 150% of your average sales cycle it’s time to flush the pipeline!