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Recently, I sat with a Sales Director and Managing Director of a £40m company. They were concerned at the lack of sales this year, a 30% reduction in new business versus last year, and existing customer revenues down by 14% after 6 months. They wanted answers. I listened as they shared with me the main contributing factors for this decline. 
The sales team’s activity needs to improve, we need more appointments’ 
‘We don’t understand our customers enough!’, ‘We don’t have enough closers, too many farmers, not enough hunters!’’ 
‘Our conversion rates are way too low!’ 
‘Our sales cycle is too long!’ 
‘Our sales team need to be more consultative’ 
‘We are not getting enough meetings with the decision makers!’ 
‘The sales team are poor at follow-up!’ 
Naturally, I accepted all of these as valid reasons, I have heard them repeatedly for the last nine years as a Consultant Sales Director and Sales Trainer. But it was the M.D.’s final comment that struck the biggest chord with me. 
‘I just don’t understand why we seem to have so many great opportunities that get stuck in the pipeline!’ 
This is not such a common observation, yet I witness it as a definite issue in most of the pipelines that I analyse, and in doing so, I have seen that the solution to all of the initially stated challenges lies in the answer to this question to a significant degree. 
A pipeline is incredibly revealing as it gives clear, helpful business indicators. If it is done well, you can see the appetite of the customers to buy, the buyers journey, at what point in the sales process problems with sales momentum start to occur, the sales strategy, the competence of the sales team, the quality of the sales process and much more. 
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