Transcript: Hi, I’m Anna Talerico with Married2Growth and here are some thoughts on the dead deals sitting in your team’s pipeline. Sometimes when we’re looking at a salesperson’s stuck pipeline, the cause ends up being a bunch of dead deals. So today let’s talk a little bit about getting rid of those, so your forecast can be more accurate.
Any qualification criteria used for an opportunity doesn’t matter if a deal is sitting stuck in the pipeline not going anywhere. And I have a simple view in regards to the viability of any deal. The buyer needs to be working the deal with the sales rep. There are no exceptions to this. When a buyer goes dark, and the sales rep has followed a process to get them to re-engage with no luck, kill the deal. They may be qualified, they may be a great prospect, and they may even eventually buy. But if they are dark, they aren’t working with you on the deal. They have de-prioritized you.
I take a pretty rigorous view of this—a buyer who is dark for 3 weeks is not thinking about buying. Yes, buyers get busy and weeks can slip by even when they intend to buy. But if they intend to buy, or think they want to buy, they won’t go completely dark on you.
And there is another kind of deal to kill as well. When the deal is so one-sided that all the engagement is coming from the sales rep and the buyer is behaving passively, that’s a dead deal. To buy, prospects need do work as well. They have to gather up stakeholders, engage with procurement, they have to budget, they have to introduce you to key decision makers, they have to make the business case internally.
Whatever their particulars are, good buyers have steps to do on their side, and they do them. If a sales rep is the only one putting effort into the deal, and all the prospect is doing is showing up to calls, then it’s probably a deal that should be killed.
A bunch of dead deals just clog the pipeline and take up mental energy that could be used on opening new, more engaged opportunities. Teach your sales reps to move the deal to closed lost and move on. Of course, this doesn’t mean the prospect stops being worked. If it’s the right buyer and you can solve their business need, pursue them vigorously. But they don’t need to be sitting there in the “evaluation” stage for 3 months floundering around. There is no harm in closing the opportunity and reopening it later when the buyer gets re-engaged.
So often reps, and sales managers are afraid to disqualify a deal and get it out of the pipeline, but all that does is take up space (mental and actual) for the good deals. A prospect who is dark, or a prospect who is not working the deal with—these are just false positives. False hope. And hope isn’t a strategy to hit quota. It’s a crutch that prevents you from working on the skills needed to sell value and sell solutions to business problems.
If your sales team has a lot of dead deals in your pipeline (a lot being disproportionate to your usual benchmarks), there is probably a skill gap somewhere. You aren’t selling value. You aren’t compelling enough to create urgency to get and stay prioritized. You aren’t getting to the root of the business problem. You aren’t finding the gap between current state and future ideal state. Rather than endlessly follow up on deals that are stalled, focus on the skills that will solve for that. And that’s it for now. Thanks so much for watching and I hope you’ll reach out and stay in touch.