Two things that frustrate business owners regarding revenue generation are fluctuating forecasts and accounts that sit in limbo in pipelines. When this happens it’s an indication that the sellers don’t have a handle on the validity of their opportunities. This is a serious problem that must be solved. Here are some telltale signs that your team is struggling with this along with some recommendations to help you gain greater clarity.
Their contact is a buyer or purchasing agent
The people in these roles are never true decision makers. They are the middle men/women who gather the information needed for the decision maker. Find out whom the decision maker is, their decision-making process and how long that process generally takes. If these questions can’t be answered you’ve only gotten access to part of the information and may be leaving money on the table as a result.
They’re in chase mode
The prospect was extremely interested and may have even initiated the conversation, you’ve met with them and they have a proposal. Now they aren’t returning calls or answering e-mails. What happened? They were shopping for price, to validate or rationalize why they should stay with their current provider, or they’ve just begun to think about using your product/service and have no firm timeframe. Get answers to these questions up front making sure you have specific next steps and an agreement that they’ll give you a decision by a certain date. Note: Make sure your proposals include pricing expiration dates.
The prospect’s purchase date keeps changing
Your seller was either misled or missed some critical information on when and why a purchase would actually be made. If pending business is moved from one month or quarter to another, it’s a red flag. Decide how long you’ll allow a proposal to remain on your list of pending business before you remove it - the day after the expiration date you put on your proposal perhaps? At the very least discount the likelihood of the opportunity after that date and exclude it from your projections.
You have a great idea but aren’t gaining any traction
While it’s true that great ideas can spur revenues, the great idea alone is not enough.
The prospect must have a real or perceived need or interest in the idea before they’ll devote time to discussing it and monies to fund it. If there is a need, be sure to get budget parameters as well in your first conversation with them. Many excellent creative ideas get shelved because there are things of higher priority the prospect needs to focus on. Before getting your team involved in ideation in the hopes of writing new business make sure there’s a need for it and funds to cover it.
Remember that once you submit your pricing you lose your leverage. Be diligent about getting answers as to real need, timing, decision-making process, budget parameters and intent to purchase before you claim to have a true business opportunity. Don’t delude yourself or your team; without these answers you’re playing cat and mouse.
Since this question relates to your frame of mind, here’s some food for thought about the things we tell ourselves. Did you know that 16% of our self-talk is positive? That means a whopping 84% is negative! And that means we’re far more likely to hold ourselves back by being our own worst enemy than propel ourselves forward by being our own best advocates.
Hopefully you’ll join me in refusing to listen to the 84% and embrace the 16%. This is easier said than done. Here’s one method you might use to move out of your ‘dark side’. Make yourself consciously aware of your negative thought; stop; acknowledge the thought then repeat it in the positive. Next give yourself an example or two of why the positive version is a possibility. Then instruct your brain to remember the positive version in the future. Does that sound a bit crazy? Try it and you’ll see that it works over time.
For the skeptics out there, here are some specific, practical steps you can take to become more positive.
Vision, Purpose, Intention:
Instead of saying critical, forceful words like I need to, have to, should or must; say I am, I plan to, I choose to, it’s important to me that ‘x’, I’m committed to, I am practicing, I now ‘x’, it’s time to. This keeps the statements future-focused and true to you. Many times affirmations fail to work because, for the most part, they’re thoughts we think we should be thinking.
Think about your life, career and future as a child might. Ask questions like: How can I? How might we? What can I/we? I wonder, What if? NOTE: The word ‘and’ moves us toward possibilities; the word ‘but’ knocks out wonder. When you use the word ‘but’ everything you’ve said prior to that is negated in the listener’s mind; they only focus on what you’ll say next.
Some other important word changes to transform weak thoughts into powerful thoughts and create more positivity are:
Instead of should, say could Instead of we will/I will, say we do, we are, I do, I am
When you need to correct a situation, instead of starting with 'you', say I noticed.... That one simple act would eliminate much of the defensiveness in the world as it helps keep the focus on behaviors instead of the person.
Each of us is gifted and talented and capable of accomplishing great things. Think and Dream BIG. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. Stay positive!