By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® -The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Pakorn at

Qualifying opportunities can be a vexing ongoing problem for sales managers. This issue rolls up to senior executives that need top line revenue visibility to project earnings. Organizations without a tactical sales process often rely upon the opinions of salespeople under pressure to show adequate pipelines. Sellers that aren’t YTD against quota become overly optimistic.

There are four (4) pre-requisites to improving pipeline accuracy and visibility: 

  1. Defined pipeline milestones (often multiple sets of milestones are needed based upon opportunity sizes and types).
  2. A standard skill set for salespeople so they can execute the process.
  3. Consistent positioning of offerings by mapping capabilities to business outcomes.
  4. Auditable documentation that reflects buyer actions to validate that milestones have been achieved.

0-pointingA CEO of one of my clients enlarged a graphic of the CustomerCentric Selling® (CCS®) process and displayed it prominently in his office. He had tired of getting lengthy answers when sellers or managers were asked about the status of transactions that often could make or break a quarter.

After sellers and managers attended CCS® workshops, he had two (2) rules when they were asked the status of opportunities:

  1. No talking allowed.
  2. Point on the process map to indicate where things stood.

This philosophy was consistent with my experience as a sales manager and executive in that the longer the answer was to where opportunities stood, the less confident I felt about them.

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