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Q1 is done. How’d you do?

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Here’s a question for you: How was your performance in Q1, and what does your pipeline look like over the next two quarters? If you made your Q1 sales targets and have a robust, qualified pipeline — congratulations. If you missed your targets and have doubts about the quality and accuracy of your current pipeline, don’t panic. There is still time to correct the situation.

Correcting a first-quarter revenue shortfall won’t be easy and may seem controversial, but a little controversy is better than a revenue miss anytime. If you do find yourself in this situation, take a look at the following recommendations. You probably realize that many of the activities outlined below should have been phased-in earlier in the sales year, but a burst implementation can yield results nonetheless.

1. Immediately review your current marketing business plan. How much of your current marketing budget is directly impacting lead generation? From here forward, every activity within marketing needs to be focused on bringing in qualified leads. If there’s no way to determine a program’s impact on lead generation, consider dropping it.

Consider outsourcing some of your marketing functions. Finding external support for non-core marketing functions makes sense, especially in areas such as marketing automation and demand-generation support.

2. Focus on high-value sales prospects. It’s very common for salespeople to continue to chase deals that have been in a “no-decision” status for a long time. They will have a myriad of reasons why the deal is still viable, but we all know that time helps no sale. If an opportunity has aged 150 percent of your average sales cycle time, remove it from your forecast.

Many sales reps also routinely put opportunities into their CRMs hoping something will happen in the future. Focusing on poorly qualified opportunities can cause you to miss a robust opportunity. This practice leads to a pipeline bloated with unqualified deals. The best place for these “leads” is your automated marketing program’s lead-nurturing function.

This may seem like a lot to do in a short period of time, but the health of your company may depend on it. Putting these recommendations into action will probably require some very difficult decisions, but the rewards are worth it. You have a choice: Stay on the current course and hope for the best or implement change and emerge triumphant in 2014.

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Dan Hudson is the co-founder and president of 3forward and has a B2B sales and sales leadership background of more than 30 years. He can be reached at [email protected].


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