Keeping it Fresh: In Sales, Timing is Everything

Sales timing is everything

Have you ever searched your refrigerator only to discover that the fruit, vegetable or cheese you were looking for has gone bad? If you were planning to prepare a meal right at that moment, you would surely be disappointed. Like cooking, freshness is key to whipping up solid sales results. You can ensure nothing goes bad with a process for planning and monitoring your time.

Deals can go bad for many reasons: prospects not responding as expected; salespeople not taking the next steps fast enough; a loss of focus; or general work overload.

In your daily activities, some deals in your sales pipeline may have gone stale or are beginning to “rot.” Most prospective deals, just like food, have a shelf life.

Get help to avoid deal rot


Your deals are not the only ones to rot

Deal rot is a common problem among busy salespeople — but there’s no need to worry. When you pay attention to the average time it takes for deals to close, or move from one stage to another, you can assess whether your deal is fresh or if it’s rotting. 

Pipedrive’s rotting feature lets you identify which deals are lingering in a certain stage of your sales flow for too long.

Some deals can fall through the cracks

Just as no-one buys food thinking that it won’t get cooked, salespeople don’t conduct their sales activities thinking that potential deals will rot.

When this happens, those deals require maintenance. You can achieve this by giving each deal a due date or setting a time constraint, so you can measure the relative freshness of the opportunity.

And some of those deals can be recovered

If you have established a good relationship with the prospect, you may be able to pick things up after a missed deadline — other deals may need to be re-evaluated. When deals begin to rot, you’ll see where you’re taking more time than usual and need to move forward.

Pipedrive’s rotting feature is designed to serve as a visual reminder that your deals have not been touched for a while and could use your attention. This tactic gives you clear visibility into your sales flow, leading to much shorter average closing times and increased productivity to push through more sales.

A great chef and a great salesperson have a lot in common

Chef’s know that timing is everything. This applies to both cooking the food well, and serving the customer within a reasonable time. As a salesperson, it is also important to set expectations and deadlines that are feasible.

You wouldn’t want to set a due date too soon because rushing a sale could turn prospects off. Similarly, if you wait too long, the prospect’s interest and your opportunity to close could be lost. You may be sitting on “promising” goods, only to find your potential deal is wilted and rotten.

Setting an accurate due date based on your sales cycle allows you to see what you have to work with in your pipeline, and what takes precedence. Every week, take stock of your pipeline to review all open deals, as well as the lost deals from the previous week, to gain a better understanding of the next actions you should take.

Due dates matter, so pay attention

Once the deal-rotting feature is enabled and configured for your pipeline, a red hue will color the deals that have remained idle for a while. The feature is easily customizable and can be set up to display your deals as “rotten” after any number of days you choose. You can set defaults for each stage in your pipeline for each pipeline you manage.

For example, you could set up your pipeline where deals in your first stage rot after five days of inactivity and have the deals in a different stage of your pipeline rot after only two days of inactivity.

This discipline with, visibility into, and fine-tuning of your pipeline makes all the difference.

Sometimes, you need to restock

While the time it takes to complete the sales cycle varies, it’s crucial to know if a deal is still fresh. Having this visibility into a deal can help you allocate resources and time.

With food, when items spoil, we can see the real consequences of letting food rot. It looks unattractive; its time has passed. Likewise, with deals in your sales pipeline; to have a healthy sales pipeline, you need to know the state of the deals in play.

Don’t waste time on deals that are unlikely to close, or any deal that could spoil it for the rest of the bunch. If too much of the inventory is rotting away, you need to make way for fresh leads and prospects.

Want to improve your sales performance across the board?

  • Set clear time expectations
  • Track deals at risk of rotting
  • Clear out rotten deals
  • Restock your pipeline consistently

Why not check out our Global Sales Performance Review for a global insight into how others sell.

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Rob Kleiman

Rob is a strategist, writer and community builder based in New York City. He frequently covers events, interviews thought leaders and helps teams discover insights. His work has appeared in Startup Grind, PSFK and others publications. Read more of his work at medium.com/@rkconnections.