February 14, 2017

You Are Responsible for the Health of Your Pipeline, Results and Retirement Income

My sales management mentor, Donnie Williams (who was also my sales manager in the late 1990’s and my business partner in the early 2000’s), was great with one liners. He’s the one who came up with the quip I often use when salespeople tell us they are worried about selling more because production or the operations people can’t keep up. With a straight face he would reply that “your job in sales is not to worry about or help out operations; your job is to bury the bastards!” Another one of my favorite Donnie lines was “Sales is about results and they do not lie.”

I couldn’t agree more. However, today, it’s amusing how few salespeople seem willing to take full responsibility for their own results. They’re masters at pointing the finger of blame at everyone: It’s Obama’s (now Trump’s) fault. It’s my territory. It’s the stupid customer. It’s the competitor. It’s the product. It’s our pricing. And everyone’s new favorite, “the sales development reps (SDRs) are not getting me enough meetings and leads, and many that they do hand over are crap.”

Listen up, folks, and listen good. I don’t care what you read in some blog post about inbound marketing, or were told by a #socialselling charlatan preaching that the phone is dead, or how much your low-performing peers whine about the lack of leads coming from marketing or the BDRs/SDRs, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE HEALTH OF YOUR OWN SALES PIPELINE. Period.

Top-producers own their results. Always have, always will. While they love a freebie or a quality lead as much as the next guy, they never depend on someone else to fill their pipeline. Said differently, they don’t allow themselves to play the victim card. The perennial winners I’ve observed in sales roles work all stages of the sales process/funnel and never take for granted that the top of the funnel has enough going into it. And if they sense for even a second that the lead or appointment flow isn’t what it should be to enable them to hit their sales goals, they immediately spring into action and laser-focus on creating new opportunities. Please read that last line again, because there are way too many sellers living in reactive mode chasing only known opportunities instead of pursuing strategic target accounts.

Let me repeat the great phrase that a top-producer shared last year at a New Sales. Simplified. workshop I was leading:

“Appointments set for us by the BDRs/SDRs should be viewed the same way we view the Social Security portion of our retirement income – as gravy.”

Not sure any of us can say that better. Just like we are responsible for our own retirement income and better not be counting on the government, we are completely responsible for ensuring that our pipelines are jam-packed with sales opportunities. Can I get an “amen!”

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If any of what’s in this article resonates with you, or scares you, or provokes you toward action, or is maybe something that your colleagues, sales manager, or friends in sales need to hear, please invite them to join a few of my favorite sales gurus and me at the Virtual Sales Kickoff 2017.  The theme is Prospecting, Pipeline, and Productivity. It’s Thursday at 11:00am Eastern (10:00 where the cool kids live), and it’s FREE thanks to our sponsor Cirrus Insight. Even if you can’t make the live event on the web, CLICK HERE to register anyway so you get access to the recording. I promise that you’ll leave that hour with powerful, practical ideas that will help you improve at prospecting and keeping your pipeline full. Don’t miss out on this opportunity! There are already 5000 people registered.