Moving leads to prospects to customers through your sales pipeline is the job of the high-performance sales professional. When there is a sales problem, the most likely reason for the slowdown is an inadequate number of new leads coming into the sales pipeline and or a jam-up of unqualified prospects in the sales pipeline. The solution to both of these problems is within your control.
The high-performance sales professional is in the activity creation business. You are not in the waiting business.
It is your job to create a continuous stream of new leads to qualify. Once qualified, it is your job to move the prospect through the professional sales process and create a new customer. Along the way, you must make judgment calls as to the viability of each lead and each prospect. If there is no opportunity to move forward, your best course of action is to place that lead or prospect aside and move on to the next lead.
When a lead begins to stall in your sales pipeline, and forward movement comes to a halt, you must decide how you will move forward. You don’t want to fall into the zone of inactivity and start using the Four Words Sellers Should Never Use, “I’m just checking in.” That is not a sales strategy. When you are not in front of your prospect, they are not considering your offer. They are worried about running their business.
When you find yourself saying, “I’m just checking in,” that is a clear signal that the deal has stalled or died, and short of a miracle, it’s going to stay that way until you decide to do something different.
The first lesson to avoid having stalled prospects in your sales pipeline is this, never leave a meeting without a clear next step. Identifying the next step is just a micro commitment. It is a signal of engagement. It is the next step that indicates if the lead is a prospect and whether there is the potential for a business relationship. Without the micro commitment for the next step, the sales process comes to a halt, and your sales pipeline begins to slow down. A sales pipeline slowdown means deals slow down, and that leads to a smaller paycheck.
“I’m just checking in” doesn’t add any value to your proposal. It doesn’t motivate the prospect to make a new decision. It is just a useless phrase that should never cross your lips. You need to ask specifically for the next step. If you want to reignite this prospect and move it through your pipeline, you must not be passive in your actions.
Selling is the transference of emotions. Confident, self-assured salespeople close more deals because the prospect feels that confidence and stimulates the prospect’s confirmation bias and helps them make a positive decision to become your customer.
Instead of saying, “I’m just checking in,” say, “The reason I’m calling is to identify our next step.” Ask for a new face-to-face meeting. Ask for an update on the prospect’s decision-making status. You might even want to be so bold as to ask if you are wasting the prospect’s time. Ask anything, but don’t say, “I’m just checking in.”
“I’m just checking in” is a passive statement that is easily dismissed by the prospect. The prospect can easily say, “Thanks, but I haven’t made a decision yet.”
The best way to avoid stalled or dead deals in your sales pipeline is to reevaluate your lead generation and prospect qualifying process and learn how to become more skillful in your process. Increasing your activity levels and refining your sales talk are two areas over which you have complete control. So, do something about it. Otherwise, you will find yourself using the Other Four Words a Salesperson Should Never Use in front of your sales manager; I’m “waiting to hear back.”
If you need some help, let me know.
Talk to you soon.