All companies are leads, but not all are sales opportunities. An opportunity is done with a company that's agreed to follow through your sales cycle to the end. Here are a few tips on evaluating deals:
Your sales cycle is more typical than you think
Perhaps you're reading this article after getting a warning inside one of your opportunities. It's telling you there's nothing planned with you and the contact.
We've studied the sales cycles of our Upsales users. We've found the biggest reason sales reps don't reach their targets is too much time spent on lost opportunities. In fact, up to 3x as much time on lost deals compared to won deals.
Spend your time on the deals that will close
Every sales professional has experienced it.
Your initial appointment with a prospect feels like a done deal. This is going to be an easy one, right? And now all of a sudden, they're a bit evasive about booking a meeting. Or even answering their phone.
Of course, this looks like a bad sign. However, when you're in that situation it's hard to take a step back and see things clearly. Here are a few tips on how to handle this:
Struggling to get hold of them
You've called, visited, and emailed the prospect. And still no next step. They won't change their mind after your 10th call.
At this point, send an email explaining you're eager to close this deal. Ask what they need in return to make it happen. Leave it.
If you don't have a next step planned, arguably you're alone in this deal. Even having a to-do to contact them in a week doesn't count as having a next step.
It's also important to keep track of your average sales cycle. If the opportunity has been around longer than your average it's worth evaluating if it's still worth your time. What happened to the other lengthy opportunities you've had in the past?
No one want to play ball
An early warning sign to look for is when the person you're speaking to doesn't want to "play ball". You're on the field. Alone. Bursting out solutions, ideas, and trying to get to know them. And no one's joining in. Or even worse, you spend the entire appointment talking about anything but the deal.
Ever happened to you, how did that turn out?
“Your number one competitor is not a company. It's the status quo.”
- Stephan Schiffman
Let's talk in "we-are-not-interested" number of months
There are several reasons for the lead to postpone, and they might not all be bad. Perhaps a decision-maker has to be in on the deal, and they can't join until further ahead. Either way, this is your sign to schedule a call, tie up any loose ends, and move on to another opportunity. Value your time as well as theirs.
Actions for opportunities lacking a next step:
- Move the opportunity to the Fallback stage
- Plan a call with the company on your to-do list and ask: Do you want to play ball or not?
- if the lead wants to move ahead: Book the next appointment and move the opportunity to the correct stage in the Sales board
- If they're not interested: Change stage to Lost opportunity and focus on the ones that want to make business with you.
- Abandoning and starting again with a new lead takes time. And effort. But it's probably your best shot at reaching your sales targets.