What I Wish I Knew More About in Sales #2: Know What To Quit

by Robert Driscoll on October 28, 2009

PrintWhen I first started in sales, I wish I had the courage to more effectively weed people out.  I was so eager to just have anyone talk to me, that I didn’t really have an effective filter (or the courage) to qualify people OUT of my process.  I needed to be clear about who is and who is not a good fit and to be willing to walk away from bad business.  I wish when I was starting out I had the mindset and the process to be more selective about where and with whom I spent time and energy.”

Tom Batchelder

Founder, Perficency – A National Sales Coaching Organization


Anyone who has been in sales knows that this job is the easiest one to measure.  You either hit your quota target or you don’t.  Even when you hit your quota one month, it’s quickly forgotten as the business moves forward to the next month.  In a sales organization, it’s, “What have you sold today.”  As every salesperson knows, if you don’t convert your opportunities in to closed sales, it is just a matter of time before you’re let go.  Plain and simple.

As salespeople, we are also very familiar with the “infamous sales funnel” which is used to measure all of the opportunities you are working on and what stage they are at in the sales process.   Wikipedia provides a great example of the layers within the sales funnel process:


It’s simple, the goal is to move as many of your new opportunities down the funnel layers towards the purchase order and account maintenance stage.  The more opportunities you close, the higher your chances will be of hitting your quota numbers, making money and succeeding within your company.

During this on-going sales process, a good sales management team will generally look at the following (4) sales funnel metrics:

  1. Funnel  Value:  the potential value of all the deals in the funnel
  2. Arrival Rate:  the number of deals being qualified in to the funnel in a given period
  3. Conversion Rate:  the ratio of deals that were converted into sales
  4. Flow Rate:  the time that deals are sitting in the funnel

A salesperson, on the other hand, will generally only focus on their funnel value and their conversion rate, and too often, forget about their flow rate.  As a sales person myself, I am also guilty of this.  Why do we salespeople do this?  In my opinion, it’s much easier to have a conversation with your boss about a “fat” funnel full of “opportunities” because we’re generally optimistic about our opportunities as we believe they all have the potential of becoming a sale.  In reality, we’re too afraid to quit opportunities in our funnel by pushing them out.

It might seem strange when you first consider “quitting” in sales, but if you think about it, if you eliminate those opportunities (and yes, customers) in your funnels that are not realistic, you are able to spend your time on those that are.  Quitting isn’t always a bad thing in sales.


Logo was created by Stacy Driscoll who is a freelance designer based in South Florida where she continues to provide her clients with innovative design solutions while continuing to grow her client base and skill set.  More of her work can be found at her website www.stacydriscolldesign.com.

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