This article was originally published by Zymewire on 02/07/2014.
“Every Customer has a different viscosity, the time it takes to flow through the funnel and become an active account”
- Tim Breithaupt, author of “Take this job and love it”
We often get asked the question “how much prospecting should my Business Development team be doing?” The answer to this comes down to deciding what you want your sales pipeline to look like and how comfortable you are with risking a drought in deal flow.
Successful sales teams understand that sustaining a stable and fruitful sales pipeline means a solid routine exists around prospecting efforts. If you are someone involved in the later stages of a deal and the RFP process, it’s equally important that you’ve decide upfront how much time you want to devote to prospecting each week. Tim Breithaupt, one of our favourite authors around here at Zymewire, uses the concept of Prospect Viscosity to help explain the fact that different prospects move at different rates through the sales funnel. Funnel velocity is another related term, but the two are not interchangeable. The former relates to your internal processes, while the latter is all about the external forces. Viscosity implies that the prospect has an immutable property - like oil or water have immutable properties- that no matter what you do as a salesperson, you just cannot change.
Establish an average viscosity goal
It’s unproductive to be thinking only of the end of funnel revenue targets when you’re determining how much prospecting you need to do. While the financial metric is no doubt the end goal, to establish a realistic routine around prospecting you need to break that end goal into something that can be tracked at the top of the funnel.
Average Prospect Viscosity: What is the time frame between when a company is receptive to your sales efforts, or responds to your marketing efforts and when they send you an RFP? The longer the time period, the more “viscous” the prospect is. Put in more familiar terms this number is a measure of how qualified your top of funnel prospects are.
The goal of tracking this number is to understand which types of prospects move faster through your sales funnel, then focus your prospecting on more of those targets. If you see your number improving over time (ie. getting lower), it means your sales team is doing a better job of keeping their prospecting efforts focused on qualified accounts. If you can’t determine your average prospect viscosity, then you can’t yet quantify how much prospecting your team needs to be doing. You also can’t start to improve this number.
Another way to think of average viscosity is the measure of how qualified your top of funnel prospects are. If you’re meeting a hundred people at a conference but those new leads take an average of 2 years to turn into RFPs, then you have poor flow through your funnel. Similarly, if marketing is getting people to sign up for a webinar but it takes 12 months to get them engaged then these prospects have high viscosity.
More to come in future posts on ways to measure and improve the average prospect velocity…
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