I recall back in my corporate life, I got a new job and my first day was at the start of the quarter.  In fact, my first meeting, was a meeting called by the country leader, where all the sales leaders were called to account.

The business had dropped $16 million from the forecast.

It was a meeting to remember, the only sales leader who had made his number, resigned, he was going to a competitor and over the next two weeks, two of the sales leaders and the country manager got fired or "left".

The business I worked in was Nasdaq quoted and there was only one measure, forecast accuracy and we needed the sales forecast to be 98% accurate.  Now, many companies tell me their forecast will be accurate plus or minus 100%, getting it to 98% accurate that is a hard mountain to climb.  

(As an aside, we got it to 95%.)

Can I de-risk my pipeline? - The sales leader's view

One of the services we offer here at DLA Ignite is the ability to de-risk pipelines.  I was sitting in such a forecast meeting for the quarter with a client and a deal at Domino's Pizza came up.  It was one of those deals where just about everybody in the company was involved, from the Managing Director to the head of Customer service.  It was nodded through as a done deal.

I cleared my throat and said "it won't happen".

You can imagine I was cut a number of looks, but it was what I was paid to do.

The Managing Director spoke "why don't you think it will happen?"

My answer "the sales guy is not connected to anybody on Linkedin, which proves he has no relationships there."

To cut a long story short, he didn't and it didn't happen.

Can I de-risk my pipeline? - The sales person's view

As a salesperson, connecting to your territory on social media is your way of building relationships and starting conversations.  It's the way we sell now.  You need as big (and varied) a network as you can get.

Gartner tell us that there are 10 people involved in a deal in 2021, one supply chain software company we are transforming tell us it's more like 100 people.

Let's put it another way.  There will be a decision meeting at the client, where they will have two recommendations.  You and your competition.  When they ask people to vote on which solution, who wins?  

The one with the best brochures?  Unlikely.  

The one with the best website? Highly unlikely.

The one that has pushed out the most corporate content? Highly unlikely.

The one that did the best demo? Unlikely.

The one that did the best discovery? Maybe, but unlikely.

The salesperson with the best Zoom attire? Nope!

The person who made the most cold calls? Now you are being stupid Tim!

The salesperson will the most relationships? Now we are getting somewhere

Sales is about getting "marginal gains" which is a concept used in sport as well as in business.

The whole marginal gains  principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together. The same with selling, if you break everything down and improve it by 1%, this will give you a significant competitive advantage over the competition. 

There is no silver bullet, but having a network and relationships across the account you are selling to, is a high priority for you in your territory today and it will help you de-risk your deals.

If this article has been useful and you think it would be helpful to your network or individuals then please share it.  Please also tag in the individuals.  

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