The Perfectly Balanced Sales Pipeline


Imagine a steady flow of new business without peaks or valleys. Imagine the effect on your sales. Imagine the impact on your income.

Whether you call it territory management, pipeline management, or opportunity management, maintaining a steady flow of new business is challenging. For most salespeople, the sales calendar is a roller-coaster ride—up one month and down the next—of euphoria and disappointment. This makes sales forecasting an impossible task. The answer to this dilemma lies in the metrics by which salespeople live.

Closing sales is a productivity metric based on achievement. Calling is a performance metric based on activity. Structured properly, performance leads to productivity. This means that salespeople must schedule activities that lead to achievement. They perform to produce. This is more an organizational versus a selling-technique challenge.

A simple formula for guaranteeing a steady flow of business is 1-2-4. This means for every short-term opportunity, there must be two intermediate, and four long-term opportunities in the works. For example, for every piece of business that you will close in the next 30 days, you need two that will close in the next 90 days, and four that will close beyond this. You may work on shorter or longer lead times, but the ratio is always the same.

The 1-2-4 ratio is based on average closing ratios, and it has been documented as a success strategy for salespeople in all industries for decades. To get the most value from this idea, study your potential book of business and evaluate how your opportunities compare to the 1-2-4 ratio. Adjust as necessary, if your goal is to have a steady flow of business.

Tom Reilly is literally the guy who wrote the book on Value-Added Selling (McGraw-Hill). Visit us online at Cover 4-10

Singletasking vs. Multitasking

By Tom Reilly, author of Value-Added Selling

Multitasking leads to brain drain.

You’re driving to your next appointment, enjoying your Starbuck’s Mocha Frappuccino, listening to the Stones, and your cell phone rings. You answer it. At the next stoplight, you text your inside sales support rep. The light changes, and the person in back of you honks his horn. You wave and drive off, proud of your ability to multitask. Multitasking is one of those things in life that just because you can does not mean that you should.

Researchers have studied the paradoxical value of multitasking. A group of psychologists found that multitasking reduces productivity by up to 40%. Separately, researchers are now documenting the switching costs of multitasking and have found that it can increase the time-to-complete a project by as much as 25%. Multitasking leads to mistakes due to lack of focus; unsafe acts, as in texting and driving; and relationship damage, as one dinner partner ignores the other to respond to a message.

When you direct all of your attention solely to the single task at hand, you are using all of your mental resources to create something of value. When you split your attention, the task receives only part of your mental resources. You really do not need to research this to understand the practical value of this concept.

The real problem is that multitasking is addictive. It seduces people into believing that they are indispensable. Also, it triggers a dopamine release in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that creates an euphoric reaction similar to the effects of cocaine and methamphetamine. Some people will argue its practicality and necessity in today’s world. For them, I offer this advice: To reduce stress, do more of less.

Visit to read more about this book and the time management principle, Red-Zone Green-Zone.