So Your Sales Team Can Close…But Can They Open?

[Posted by Mike Scher,  October 26, 2015] Estimated Time to Read: 2 minutes, 31 seconds

The iconic film “Glengarry Glen Ross” we all learned that “Coffee” is for closers. We learned the ABC’s of selling–Always Be Closing–and quite a few four letter words. Many sales people and their sales managers fancy themselves as great ‘closers’. If they find themselves in a sales pursuit, rest assured they will bring home the bacon. But true sales professionals can build any sales life cycle stage as well as they close it—can yours?

Sales is a pressure-cooker
Today, organizations are under enormous pressure to grow the sales funnel and hit ever-increasing revenue targets. In the world of the venture-funded enterprise, it is literally “grow or die”, as investors have expect a return on their significant investment. We speak to many sales organizations on a daily basis and commonly hear that sales teams are quite experienced and they just need to ‘get into more deals’. In many cases that same firm has invested heavily in marketing to develop leads and a Sales Development team to penetrate high-value target accounts.

Falling short
Despite all the invested resources, the challenges remain. The sales team (aka “the closers”) is not getting into enough sales opportunities to grow the business at the rate leadership, the Board and the investors are demanding. In fact, a 2014 Qvidian annual sales survey reported that 87% of surveyed executives said attaining quota is their top sales priority and challenge. Typically, one of 2 areas take the blame for sales quota failures:

• Marketing (for not producing enough leads)

• Sales development (because they may be too inexperienced to connect with higher level executives)

What about the closers?
So who’s to blame? Probably both—to an extent. Of course, Marketing has to do a better job of stimulating interest and Sales Development has to increase their knowledge and skill to deliver higher quality leads. But what about the ‘closers’? What are they doing to help solve the problem? After all, if they aren’t getting enough leads and therefore not involved in enough sales opportunities; doesn’t that mean they have excess time? Why can’t they get in the boat and start rowing? Being a closer doesn’t mean you can’t start a sales cycle. In fact, our data indicates that sales people with the most experience are better at prospecting…..when they do it. The key is getting them in the habit of doing it, even if it is just a couple of hours a day, a couple of days a week. If they aren’t actively closing sales and they are not searching for and opening new sales opportunities…then I’d question just what they are doing.

Thankfully, this is one problem easily addressed. Hold each and every sales person accountable for  pipeline management. We’ve worked with great sales leaders like Mike Clayville at VMware, Amaury Gallisa at Dell Latin America, Ken Paskins at Verint (who is actually now the President at FRONTLINE Selling) and Kevin Mosher at ArcSight who all embrace this approach and see outstanding results. Coffee may be for closers, but at our company, those who can close and open get coffee at Presidents Club……in Hawaii.

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