By Marty Levy / www.martylevy.net
There comes a time in many cycles when a sales opportunity stalls and doesn’t proceed to the next step in the sales funnel. Calling an opportunity “stalled” implies that after a necessary pause it will again start moving through the sales cycle to closure.
When a sales opportunity “stalls” at a stage in the sales cycle someone needs to decide if this opportunity requires some action and if it is one that is still winnable. We all know it is possible “the stall” in the opportunity is not temporary. It might be an indicator of a deal that could be lost or is already dead.
Important decisions need to be made by the sales team as to whether or how to pursue the stalled opportunity. Is it temporarily stalled or is it lost or dead? Who decides what the real status of this opportunity is?
The two primary players in the sales process who can make the clearest call on this “stalled” opportunity is the: (1) customer/buyer and (2) account executive/salesperson. Yet, neither has the incentive to call it anything other than “stalled.” Both of them have good reason to “keep the door open” even when a seemingly solid opportunity or business engagement falters. Calling it “stalled” is beneficial to both.
If the two people closest to the understanding of the stall are convinced this is the status, who else is in a position to evaluate what is going on? It is the sales manager who must pass judgment on the opportunity and determine a course of action. In a long sales cycle s/he may have to intervene, arbitrate, or make judgments on this matter multiple times.
On what basis will the sales manager make decisions on what to do about the opportunity labeled as “stalled?”
Reviewing the sales plan template provides visibility into the pipeline of each account and territory manager. Regular account and opportunity reviews utilizing CRM data will be essential. However, another vantage point on the stalled opportunity could also provide valuable perspective. Is this opportunity in a strategic account where maintaining or extending vendor position is crucial? Is this opportunity critical to a territory realignment that is being implemented? CRM data alone does not allow for good decision making in these situations.
Complementing CRM account and opportunity activity with account and territory sales plans may provide the best basis for determination. The sales manager must review previously created account and territory plans to bring strategy and goals into the determination process.
The sales manager decides on whether the opportunity is stalled, lost, or dead and what to do about it. Only s/he can make the call. To do so, a sales manager needs visibility on the situation provided by reviewing sales plans and progress.Tags: 90 day sales plan, account plan, planning software, sales leadership, sales management, sales plan template, sales planning, strategic account plan, template for sales