Because our brain is an energy pig, we like linear thinking. Whether heuristics, biases or other mental shortcuts that follow a linear path from “if this, then that,” linear thinking can help us burn fewer mental calories, but it can also kill our changes of creating full funnel freedom.
We might have given our salespeople a process to follow and a system to use it, defined our ideal sale, got our team to tie of all loose ends and yet our funnel looks more like an accordion month-to-month and quarter-to-quarter.
When our funnel isn’t consistently full, we may be tempted to start doing more “field support visits” or “Zoom-alongs” with our salespeople to confirm that they are using the tools we gave them, which ends up exhausting us and feeling like micromanagement to our team.
What’s probably happening is members of our team are taking our process, system or ideal sale literally, which causes them to think linearly and create false positives by rejecting ideal prospects because the prospect didn’t exactly fit the boxes our salesperson wanted to check. For example, if our ideal sale profile includes an implementation timeline within three months of initial contact with one of our salespeople and a prospect’s timeline is 3.5 months out, they get rejected and our salesperson says, “well, I followed the process.”
Reducing linear thinking in our salespeople starts with sharing our overall vision, which could be “add more qualified opportunities into our funnel.” The key part being qualified opportunities, not the magicians that used to appear before we started on the full funnel freedom path.
Then we give our salespeople permission to think strategically about how they will get to that objective, similar to “leading by mission” (Führen mit Auftrag) used by the German army, and adopted allied armies after World War II. In the above example one of our salespeople might make the strategic choice that even though the prospect’s implementation timeline is outside our ideal profile all of the other pieces of information gathered indicate that this prospect is likely to be ideal if we earn their business, so they keep that opportunity in their funnel.
Giving this freedom could certainly backfire, but if we protect our salespeople who do let a magician into their funnel and adopt a “win or learn” mindset our team members will adapt and, over time, appreciate both the guardrails we gave them from our process to defining the ideal sale and the freedom they have to make strategic choices within those guardrails.
Until next time… go lead.