6 Habits that Hurt Your Sales Pipeline

Old sales habits are difficult to change. The health of your sales pipeline of prospects is worth the effort.

Your sales pipeline is the lifeblood of your sales career. Never neglect it. However, there are plenty of bad habits sales reps have that minimize their results. I’ve complied a short list of some fo the most common habits that can significantly hurt your sales pipeline growth.

1. Living Exclusively in a Warm-Call World

Sure, networking and leveraging referrals are excellent methods for acquiring new customers. But in order to grow your sales pipeline, engage in proactive strategies with people who don’t know you such as: cold call (phone or face-to-face) and email marketing. Pick one and do it well. For example, email marketing is a great way to get your message out to a large number of people and to a targeted list. Remember that this will take time as people are overwhelmed with marketing messages everyday. Deliver a strong value-laden message without empty promises (ie. we’ll save you one-million dollars in 30 days). Over time, you’ll build trust and begin getting responses.

2. Being Overly Product-Focused

Expand your business acumen to dialog more intelligently with decision-makers. This enables you to focus on the needs and wants of the customer, not simply pitching your product. Your conversation with prospects needs to be business-focused. What business challenges exist? How can your product/service help their bottom-line? What problem can it solve for them? Once you understand all of the issues the buyer wants to resolve, then apply your product/service solution.

3. Attempting to Sell to Unqualified Buyers

Unqualified buyers are unlikely to buy. It’s that simple. Selling time should be spent on prospects who are qualified, will sign the contract, and provide your company with the revenue needed to run the business (and make you commissions). Stick to a clear qualification process (qualifiers and qualifying questions). Don’t waste time chasing contracts and proposals that won’t come back signed.

4. Chasing Too Much Low-Hanging Fruit

Too often, salespeople assume that smaller deals are easier deals. That’s simply not true. In fact, smaller deals, many times, have decision-makers attached to them who scrutinize dollars more stringently than larger-ticket sales. Instead, focus on opportunities that fall within your ideal customer profile. These have the highest probability for success.

5. Being Ambiguous or Allowing Ambiguity

Being vague during a sales call leads to damaging miscommunication. Be thoughtful of your words, choose them carefully, and speak with clarity. Remove ambiguity in what a prospect says with clarifying questions such as “Can you expound on that?”, or “What did you mean when you said…?” Only through clear, concise communication do you truly build trust and evaluate the validity of a buyer. From that, you can sell effectively to qualified buyers who want your product or service offerings.

6. Prospecting Without Pre-Call Planning

LinkedIn can tell you if a prospect has been at a company for 2 months or 7 years. Your conversation will be different with them based on their tenure, experience and industry knowledge. Check out their website and any social media pages – the individuals and the company pages as well. Take advantage of the wealth of free information at your disposal. This will help you prepare to better align yourself with your prospect.

Old habits die hard. In the sales world, unlearning your habits can make the difference between sales struggles and sales success. What sales habits are you looking to break?