Helping Your Sales Team Close ‘Stuck’ Opportunities

Author: Christina Bruce

Helping Your Sales Team Close ‘Stuck’ Opportunities

Are you having one-on-one meetings with members of your sales team and constantly hearing about opportunities that never seem to close? Perhaps your team member is having lots of meetings and seems like they’re running in circles, or they are always coming to you with reasons why the opportunity never progresses?

This problem usually points to two roadblocks: Problems with your team’s skills or gaps in your sales process. Thankfully, these can be fixed. It may take time, but setting strong foundations in your sales process and having regular check-ins with your staff should help you progress towards the desired results.

Upskilling your team members

There can be a handful of reasons your sales team finds themselves struggling to progress opportunities that are stuck. These include:

  • Team members meeting with the wrong stakeholders,
  • Team members lacking the skills to ask the right questions of the right stakeholders
  • The opportunity is lost, but the team member is reluctant to close it out for fear of how that may be perceived internally
  • The team member may genuinely believe that the deal will close eventually, but they can’t get a handle on when

If you suspect one or more of these issues are present in members of your sales team, you may need to invest some time in training, upskilling and improving of your sales process to support your team members.

Optimising your sales process

Almost every organisation, at one stage or another, will see opportunities in their sales pipeline that are stuck or stagnant. This can happen for few reasons:

  • The team doesn’t have regular, well-structured pipeline review sessions
  • Opportunities aren’t being scrutinised closely enough
  • The team does not know their average deal time, and therefore, they can’t tell when an opportunity has been sitting in a stage for far too long .
  • The selling behaviours that correspond to opportunity progression through the sales pipeline haven’t been mapped

To help fix these problems you need to ensure that your team is strong and ready to go before they can start selling. The best way to train your staff to be ready is to have a strong and thorough sales process that starts with a robust sales pipeline.  A sales pipeline that clearly maps out the different stages of opportunity progression.

Combining a robust sales pipeline with a well-trained team will help you achieve consistency in sales performance.

How to know you have a strong pipeline

One way to mitigate stuck opportunities is to implement a robust pipeline review process (assuming you have a sales pipeline). This involves meeting with your sales team at least every fortnight and taking a step-by-step approach to reviewing each of the opportunities the team are currently working on.

Some key points to follow are:

  1. Start with a high-level overview of how the team is performing, reminding the team of their sales targets and congratulating them on all the won business – in particular, anything since the last pipeline meeting. Then, starting with the opportunities in your final pipeline stage, ask each team member to speak to the opportunity briefly, clarify what has happened since the last update, and outline the next steps. Double-check the revenue figure and the close date to ensure both are still accurate and that the opportunity is on track to close.
  2. Move to the top of the first stage of your pipeline and review how many new opportunities have been entered/identified in the last two weeks. It’s not essential to review or discuss each of these, but it is important to check that the team are identifying new deals to pursue.
  3. Work your way through the body of your pipeline, having each team member speak to each opportunity. If there are any, call out the ones of greater value or more strategic clients/sales. Double-check the revenue, close date and stage of each opportunity, as they will help you coach the team on the selling work needed for opportunity progression.

Building and reviewing an effective Sales Pipeline is not always straight forward but it is essential to mitigate opportunities being stuck and your team wasting time and effort on opportunities that are unlikely to close. Sellabilities® helps Sales leaders and teams implement a Sales Pipeline and refine existing sales processes through specialised training.

Contact us to see how our Pipeline Fundamentals program can help upskill your team.

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