Lead Management – JS Bach, Music, and Your Sales Pipeline

I absolutely loved this recent post by Copyblogger. As someone who took piano lessons for over eight years, I’ve played my fair share of Bach minuets, and hearing about the sheer amount of effort he put into creating his music inspired me.

And I think there’s a lesson to be learned here that’s eminently applicable to sales:

To quote from the blog,

“Researchers concluded that the rate of [musical composition] hits to misses was pretty constant between major and minor composers. The truly great composers produce more masterpieces than the others, mainly because they produced more work overall.”

Change “musical composition” to “prospects,” and “masterpieces” to “sales” and suddenly we’re on to something.

You want to know one of the secrets of the top sales people? The agents in the “20 percent” category of the “80/20 Rule of Sales” (i.e., “80 percent of all sales are generated by 20 percent of the reps”)?

They simply have more deals running at the same time.

Obviously, if you can close a higher percentage of your deals in the pipeline, you’ll make more money too. But statistically, there’s a limit to how high this number can go. In our experience, even our best sales reps only close between 10 and 20 percent more deals than average, or about three out of every twenty opportunities.

Sure, this can be significant—but in most cases the bigger difference is that the higher producers simply have bigger pipelines than their counterparts. They have more deals going through the process.

It’s simple, right? Two sales reps, both closing 20 percent of their deals. But one has 15 deals in the pipeline, one has six.

Who’s going to generate more revenue?

I don’t want to turn this post into shameless self-promotion, but we’ve been saying for years at XANT that one of the biggest ways a sales team can increase sales and drive revenues is by putting more prospects into the pipeline with outstanding Lead Management practices.

If you changed literally nothing else about your sales organization’s performance, other than to put three additional opportunities a month in each rep’s pipeline, what would it do to your sales bottom line?

Bach produced greatness because he had talent, but he also gave himself thousands of opportunities to be great. Outstanding sales reps close more deals, but a lot of the time it’s only because they give themselves more chances to do it.

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