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Reps Not Closing? Pay Attention to Your Sales Pipeline

Cold leads won’t get your team to quota.

Closing is never the problem. “Never” is a bold statement, but savvy sales leaders recognize that closing is the easy part. It’s sales prospecting techniques that are messed up. Reps aren’t spending time on the critical business development activities that occur earlier in the sales process, so their sales pipeline is either dry or full of cold leads.

Trying to teach reps how to close without addressing the broken links in your lead generation system is a lesson in futility. It’s like trying to treat an injured back with pain medication. Unless you address the actual cause, not just the symptom, that nagging pain won’t go away.

So, what’s causing the pain in your sales pipeline?

Right Prospect, Wrong Person

In a recent blog post, Dave Kurlan shared research from his company, Objective Management Group (OMG), about why salespeople can’t close. Their data suggests it’s not lack of skills; it’s getting meetings at the level that counts.

Salespeople say meeting with decision-makers is important, but the OMG research shows that only 10 percent of salespeople are actually reaching decision-makers. For everyone else, far too many deals stall or fall out.

As Kurlan puts it:

When salespeople successfully reach the actual decision makers, opportunities move through the pipeline and reach the closable stage, often resulting in a win. However, MOST salespeople are NOT reaching the actual decision makers and those are the opportunities that lose traction and/or result in a loss.

Remember, for the most part, these are salespeople who believe it’s important to reach the decision maker, have that as a milestone in their sales process, have the sales skills to reach decision makers, but still fail to reach the decision makers. 

Get more details on OMG’s research in this post: “Data Reveals the Biggest Obstacle to Closing Sales.”

The Golden Ticket to the C-Suite

I jumped on this research, because I know how reps reach decision-makers. They get referrals. As a result, they breeze right past the gatekeeper. They get in early—often before prospects even know they have a need. They get “intel” about the buying process, who’s on the committee, who the influencers are, who has the budget, what’s the timeline, and who to watch out for.  They develop strong, mutual relationships that no competitor can shatter. That’s why they close business with more than 50 percent of their referred prospects (most salespeople tell me it’s more like 70 to 90 percent).

Bottom line: If you want decision-makers in your sales pipeline, get referrals.

Learn more about how to get referrals in my new LinkedIn Learning online sales training course.


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