It’s Time for a New Level of Realism

Jonathan Farrington

We are hurtling towards the mid-point in the “selling- season” and as all my clients will confirm at this time of year, I always urge maximum effort: I do not like the “hockey stick” syndrome; you know the one that dictates that we close the most business in the last month of the quarter, or the last quarter of the year.

My preference is to get ahead of the numbers as early as possible, and to come out of the traps flying. There is no room on my teams for those who want to spend the first few months of the New Year either reflecting on their success or worrying about their disappointments from the previous year.

In sales, as in sport, you are only as good as your next victory!

But it takes courage, and a real sense of realism to focus in on what is probable – not just possible!

This is not a time to be optimistic. We need realistic.

You can’t manage what you can’t measure, and if you can’t measure your pipeline, then you can’t improve your productivity. There are a number of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that can be measured, monitored and managed to ensure achievement of sales targets:


Pipeline Opportunities – These should be measured in value and the number of opportunities in the pipeline.

Opportunities by Milestone – Once these milestones and their different probabilities of closing have been calculated, these figures ensure greater accuracy of forecasting.

Average Deal Size – This ensures better focus on larger deals and ideally will increase steadily each year.

Sales Cycle Time – Shortening this can have a huge impact because of the cumulative saved time available for prospecting.

Profitability – Margins can be tracked to ensure that there is sufficient contribution to enable ongoing account handling.

Conversion Ratio – The number of opportunities won, and the % of pipeline potential converted.

Finally, do remember that there are no prizes for having an overly pregnant pipeline – the prizes are reserved for closed business, and for the winners!

The reality is that for a number of reasons, 30% of the opportunities currently residing in your pipeline will not happen – do you know which ones they are?

If you weed them out early, you will give yourself so much more time to work on those that will happen.

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