Limiting deal pushing in your pipeline.

Defined as an opportunity that has had its close date changed too many times and is still active in the pipeline. Frequent changes to close dates is one behavior that increases the likelihood that the opportunity may not be closeable. This is otherwise known as pushing.

 Why does pushing happen?

1.   A buyer keeps delaying key sales activities and the sales rep continues to keep the opportunity in the pipeline. There are many reason why this could be happening. The need that they have is not a priority. They can’t tell the sales rep no and just keep pushing the deal. There is no budget or things have changed in their company that has delayed the process.

2.   The “I wish” syndrome— a sales rep has a qualified opportunity with a company they really want to sell. However, the key contact has gone silent and they can’t seem to re-engage. So, they just keep wishing the buyer would return their voicemail or respond to their email. These types of opportunities should be sent back to marketing for further nurturing or you should place them in a prospecting stage that is outside of your sales process.

3.   The sales rep has no clear idea on when the deal will close. The buyer has not been able to instruct the rep on their timeline.

·         Management has been forcing the sales rep to change the close dates due to applying pressure to move the deal up in the forecast for the quarter. This is a common practice that will only force a sales rep to change the close date yet again when they do not meet the internally set date instead of listening to the buyer.

 What impact does pushing have on your business?

  1.  Pushing may inflate your pipeline with opportunities that might not ever close. Putting you at risk of falsifying your pipeline. This will only increase your manager’s distrust in you and your ability to keep a clean pipeline. Better a higher quality pipeline than a high value pipeline that is suspect.
  2. If your pipeline is suspect, management will begin to discount it. Adding extra frustration for them.
  3. You’ll find it very difficult to know your actual deal cycle times. Pushing extends your deal cycles. Knowing your deal cycle and benchmarking that performance against your peers will give you critical insight into areas where you can improve how you sell so you can close more business.

 The best close date is the one that the buyer gives you. In absence of the buyer telling you the timeline, use your personal average sales cycle as the close date.