One of my favorite movies of all time is Dumb and Dumber with Jim Carrey who plays Lloyd and Jeff Daniels who plays Harry. There aren’t too many movies that can keep me laughing through an entire two hours, but this is certainly one of them. One of my favorite parts of the movie is when Lloyd is having a conversation with Mary about his chances of them getting together and Mary’s response is “one in a million”. For the average person, that would be taken as a slap in the face, but for the dim-witted yet lovable Lloyd, it provided hope. False hope as it was, he walked away with his head held high, but without Mary.
I’ve often related this clip to sales simply because it reminds me of so many sales people that I have both worked with and managed. Many of those sales reps had “Marys” in their pipeline even though they kept hearing that their chances were slim-to-none. Holding out hope is not a strategy. It is a false narrative that makes you feel good for a short period of time, but will ultimately leave you with a broken heart.
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Try these 3 strategies to strengthen your pipeline management and give yourself a fighting chance:
Ideal Buyer Profile
If you haven’t already done so, you need to define your ideal buyer profile. The ideal buyer profile defines which companies are a good fit for your offering and which ones are not. Before you do anything else, get this put in place. It’s a simple formula made up of 3 or 4 characteristics. For example -- manufacturing companies in the Midwest with more than $2 million in annual revenue and more than 50 employees. To get more info on defining your buyer profile, go here.
In the competitive world of sales, hope is not a strategy.
Abundance vs. Detachment
The theory in sales, for as long as I can remember, has been to have as many opportunities in your pipeline as you can, regardless of quality. Quantity or abundance is definitely important in achieving your goals, but not at the cost of quality. By defining and utilizing your ideal buyer profile, you will amp up the quality of your pipeline and increase your odds in winning the business. The more quality opportunities in your pipeline, the more likely you will be to eject from a prospect that does not make sense. Objectivity (see below) is critical to successful detachment.
Objectivity is a Strategy
If Lloyd would have been more objective in evaluating his situation with Mary, maybe he would have realized that continuing to pursue her was a waste of time. The same holds true for some opportunities in your pipeline. After defining your buyer profile, compare all of the opportunities in your current pipeline to see if they are a match. For those that are not, move them out. I know you’re thinking I’m crazy, but be objective with yourself. Do you really have a chance of winning that business? If you do win the business, is it the right fit for your company? Objectivity is a mindset change and, without it, you will continue to suffer from delusion. Don’t be a Lloyd!