New sales research shows why having too many leads can backfire

In sales, you want to keep as many prospects as possible in your pipeline, right? After all, some of those leads are bound to turn into sales, so the more leads you have, the more sales you’ll make.

Recent research conducted by consulting firm Vantage Point Performance, however, suggests that over-feeding your sales pipeline can backfire. Chances are you’ll end up working a large number of leads only to make fewer sales.

The research is the basis of Rapid Learning Institute’s latest Quick Take rapid learning module in the Selling Essentials learning center. And it has a valuable lesson for any sales professional interested in a pipeline management strategy that leads to more revenue.

The study looked at a Fortune 500 company’s sales pipelines. The researchers found that the average sales team closed 11.4% of their deals, producing $4.7 million per rep. Then they looked at the team with the leanest pipeline. With fewer prospects, the team closed 24% of their deals and yielded $7 million per rep.

So what’s the secret to creating a lean, healthy pipeline that generates more sales? Disqualification. The high-performing team asked probing questions up-front to disqualify leads as quickly as possible. Thinning the funnel allowed them to focus more of their time on prospects that had a better chance of buying.

While working with fewer leads can feel risky, a fat pipeline can swallow up your time and attention, allowing good leads to feel neglected and walk away in the process. A lean approach frees you up to spend more time with qualified leads, which means better conversations, better meetings, and increased sales.

Bottom line: A lean pipeline is a healthy one. And the one thing you can do to keep your pipeline healthy is to ask probing questions early in the sales cycle that will help you and your sales manager separate buyers from non-buyers.

For more information on this and other Quick Takes in the Selling Essentials library, please visit:

Rapid Learning Institute (RLI) provides online training and talent development tools for businesses, government agencies, nonprofits and educational institutions in the areas of sales, leadership and management, human resources, employment law compliance, and workplace safety. RLI’s approach is founded on three core principles: 1) Rapid Learning. Workplace training should be delivered in short bursts – just six to 10 minutes at a time. Today’s multi-tasking workforce has neither the time nor the attention span for traditional lengthy training formats. 2) Single-Concept Learning. People learn best when training is focused on a narrow concept where learning goals are clearly defined. When training is delivered in small packets, the brain can easily absorb, remember and apply what it learns. 3) Research-Based Learning. Training is most powerful when it’s grounded in verifiable research. When learners see training as credible, they’re more likely to translate the learning into on-the-job behavior. RLI’s signature six to 10 minute modules, called Quick Takes, incorporate these three ideas into unique training programs that get results.

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