October 8, 2021
As leaders of sales teams, we are frequently firefighting.
What do I mean by “firefighting”? Well, we’ll happily track a deal in the pipeline for weeks. It’s innocuous. It’s yet another entry in a list of deals, marked likely to close this month.
I hear about it going sideways. Its close date is slipping. We keep having more and more meetings but nothing comes from it. Or maybe the proposal went out and nothing happened.
Early in my career as a sales leader, my reaction was to roll up my sleeves and get hands-on with these deals. I’d scramble to dig into old email threads, read all the notes in the CRM, try to download key insights from the sales rep with a conversation, and join in the next meeting with the prospect. I was firefighting and I was pretty great at it. I felt like I was doing my job.
With time, I started seeing that if I am constantly saving deals, I will always have more deals to save. My sales pipeline will never be predictable and repeatable. And we will slow our growth because I can’t scale my own ability to save floundering deals. Saving the deals meant I was not saving the day.
I mentioned to my sales mentor how I was going from crisis to crisis in our pipeline. He provided a simple solution. “Spend more time early in the funnel rather than the bottom of the funnel.”
Before my team went too deep, I started to ensure they were working on the right deals and that there were compelling reasons for change at the customers. You can get pretty far with that approach and it worked better for me. But earlier in the funnel, there are more deals so you risk spreading yourself too thin with this change.
The real fix to firefighting is to change how you communicate what is going on in deals in your team. When it is easy to determine which deals are winnable and to stay on top of the objectives that help close deals, then you can be proactive in your work as a leader and increase your influence.
So ask yourself, do you know which deals are winnable in your pipeline?
Creating and communicating a deep understanding of each deal in your pipeline is one of the guiding principles of the work we do here at Ressemble. Try the tool Rasmus always wished he had as a growth executive.