It's commonly known among sales management that the top 10-20% of the sales force brings in 80-90% of the business.
Top sales performers do this partly by getting the occasional big deal, but more importantly they have a smooth, consistent flow of deals coming out of their sales pipelines.
These top sales performers keep their sales outflow consistent by keeping their lead inflow consistent.
The other 80% of the sales force, the ones who have sales pipelines that spurt, sputter, and burp out a deal here and there, aren't doing the same things as the top performers are doing.
Typically the sales journeyman is working so hard on trying to close a deal or getting ready for a big presentation that he puts sales prospecting activities last on his list of important things to do.
So he does his prospecting after he's closed a deal, and after the urgency of preparing a proposal, presentation, or RFP response are completed.
In other words, whatever is last on his To-Do list rarely gets done.
Such pipelines often have air bubbles in them as a result of infrequent prospecting.
Sometimes a sales manager can see the air bubbles, which show up as nothing in the forecast for an upcoming month or quarter.
Other times the bubbles are obscured from view by poorly qualified deals that shouldn't be in the pipeline at all because the prospect is most likely going to buy from someone else.
The solution to burps and bubbles coming out of your sales pipeline is found in the title of Stephen Covey's book on time management, First Things First.
Salesmen who consistently put off prospecting in favor of impending close meetings, presentations, etc. are letting urgency run their lives.
In First Things First, Covey talks about how doing what's important, is harder than doing what is urgent. There are always urgent activities to take up your time.
When you do the urgent things first, the important things never get done.
No one is so busy that they can't carve some time out of each week (even better is every day) for prospecting activities.
Sometimes the only solution is to ignore the urgencies for awhile. Let the phone go to voicemail. Put a handwritten sign up that says "Don't Bug Me - Master Salesman At Work". And then get busy generating a consistent flow of new leads into your sales pipeline.
Do this for 3 months and you'll be hooked on your results.
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