I love to see this kind of evolution in thinking of the sales process. I, too, was a sales person and sales manager who thought that if you throw enough mud against a wall, some of it will stick. Not too successful with that! However, our closing rates of around 15% were no worse than the B2B industry standard today and I was doing this 30 years ago.
What is so interesting to me about this article is that it covers most of the Selling to Zebras methodology that has been working well for almost 2 decades now. Nick points out that in the qualifying stage sales people can get off track because by nature they tend to rate their prospects highly even without really qualifying them. They want to keep their prospect list full and their forecast full since they believe activity is the key to success.
Nick also says that the sales teams need to pare their prospect list down by 50% — that will scare the beejeezus out of most sales teams. I actually like to apply the 80/20 principle here and say that only about 20% of the prospect list is ever going to be a customer. But those 20% will generate 80% of their sales quota.
What Nick is calling for, as we do, is to change the culture of the sales organization. We both are saying to the sales team and their managers and to the C-suite, you can do better; you can close more sales with higher pipeline flow through rates and higher sales $ values if you simple change the way you approach the process. Tough to do since change is a 4-letter word to humans in general and sales folks are human after all :-)
In closing, I recommend that everyone on the sales and marketing teams in companies serious about achieving great success read “The Challenger Sale” by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson of the Corporate Executive Board Company (CEB). This book will change how you view the sales game completely!