Possible Brexit Outcomes and What They Mean to Your Business

In recent research of over 1,000 British companies, it was found that just 20 per cent of businesses said they have started planning for multiple possible outcomes from the Brexit negotiations. The research, Beyond the Cloud: UK Technology Research 2018 carried out by ServiceteamIT and Doogheno also showed that 45 per cent had no plan to make adjustments, with 35 per cent saying they now recognise the need to start planning.

For all that has been written about Brexit, and the ongoing debate whether its right or wrong reality is that the Government has already triggered Article 50 and the end of March 2019 we will leave the EU. And this will impact business. This may be with a long transition period or it may be an abrupt break. Potentially we will still have frictionless trade with the EU and have access to new trade deals around the world, however, it is highly likely that whatever the outcome it will be disruptive to business. While only 10 per cent of survey respondents felt that Brexit has already had an impact on their business so far 31 per cent believe it will be the biggest signal external cause facing their business in the next year.

No one can be clear at this point of what the outcome of the Brexit negotiations will be, from the wildly optimistic to the doomsayers predicting food shortages and planes being grounded. But businesses need to cut through the conjecture and look at the possible realities they could be facing.

Norway Style Brexit – the UK effectively remaining a member of the EU without influence and voting rights, still working to EU law, accepting freedom of movement and having frictionless trade with the rest of Europe. While technically this would be delivering Brexit based on the terms of the referendum it would be very unpopular with many leave voters and it is unlikely that the Government will pursue this approach as it crosses multiple of the red lines set out for negotiation.

Bespoke – The Government’s preferred Chequers solution is to have a deal like no other country given our unique history and relationship with the European Union. This outcome is the hardest to negotiate and while there has been some agreement there has been frustratingly slow progress in the negotiations, with both sides feeling that the other is being unreasonable. It is highly complex having to untangle decades of legislation and even if a broad stroke agreement is reached it will take years of additional negotiation to define and agree on all the elements. The Government is under considerable pressure to not have an extended transition period from within its own ranks but an extended period would be needed to minimise the possible impact on business and citizens of both the UK and the EU. It is becoming increasingly likely that not all the terms could be agreed before the end of March 2019 so there may be an extended transition period where the UK would abide by EU law even though Britain would not be a part of the EU. This would free the UK to open trade deal talks with other countries while having space to plan an orderly exit without it being likened to falling off a cliff. For business, this would mean a smoother transition but it would also extend the period of uncertainty about what rules and regulations they would need to operate under and hamper planning for the coming years.

Canada plus plus plus deal – (modelled on the 2016 deal EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) that took 7 years to negotiate)
Favoured by the Brexitiers as it achieves most of their wishes; it removes 99% of the trade barriers but it is not built around the single market and require additional regulation. But there are many exclusions still making it hard to trade with the EU. And it doesn’t resolve the Irish border issue.

No Deal Brexit – If the UK and the EU fail to come to any agreement, then there is a high possibility of a no deal Brexit or hard Brexit. In this worst-case scenario, the UK would have no access to the EU market, there would be no recognition of mutual laws and regulations, the UK would fall back on World Trade Organisation tariffs and the UK would be the only country in the world without a single trade deal. If a no deal Brexit is looking likely then it is possible that the UK and the EU may agree to extend the negotiation time. As no deal would impact both parties, and negotiations are moving in the right direction all be it slowly, this is becoming an increasingly likely scenario. While it will ultimately allow for a better outcome it does also mean an extension to the period of uncertainty which will result in a decision making paralysis for many businesses.

Restart the whole process
– There are growing calls for a second referendum, or a people’s vote, on the final deal. It is possible that parliament may not have the stomach to pass a deal which they know is not in the best interest of the country and defer their decision making again to the people of the country. This could be in the form of a second referendum or a general election. At the time of writing this outcome is highly unlikely but if voting changed in line with the current projections it could result in business as usual with Europe, although the political fallout would undoubtedly be disruptive.

As the final outcome is unknown businesses should now be planning for the worst and hoping for the best.

Not all companies have shied away from being public about their planning Airbus, for example, have said they are starting to stockpile parts which are normally just in time, 50 London-based banks have approached Eurozone banking regulators about relocating key services and BMW have said they may have to stop production entirely in the UK. While some of the statements by business have been politically motived, such as Amazons warning about civil unrest within 2 weeks of Brexit, much of it is industry experts understanding the full impact of the disruption to their businesses.

To provide some clarity the UK Government is releasing guidance to business and citizens about the possible impact of a no deal Brexit. The EU has already issued 60 preparedness notices that layout its position if the negotiations result in no deal. The effect of the no deal positions is far-reaching, covering aviation, agriculture and industry sectors including technology. Every industry should be preparing for each outcome. The impact on technology used across all industries goes from the fairly trivial such as revoking .eu domain names too far more complex, such as the transfer of EU citizens data to a third country. In the event of a hard no deal Brexit the UK would become a third country at the end of March 2019. And while GDPR would be incorporated into UK law the European Commission would need to make an Adequacy Decision for data to be transferred to and from the UK, meaning that it considers that the third country in question ensures an ‘adequate’ level of data protection. This would not be guaranteed and it certainly would be instant.

Understanding the potential impact of such rulings is the responsibility of business both in the UK and the EU and it should be undertaken immediately.

I am a Brexit Advisor for Enterprise Nation covering marketing, so if you want to discuss this let me know.

SNAFU

As a business owner, I like to be able to see into the future. My days are focused on planning and forecasts and of course executing those plans.
Over the past few years I have worked with companies in France, Germany and the States. Currently, I have two in going conversations about work in multiple European countries.
But how can I plan for this if I don’t know what the rules will be?
There are less than 200 days before Brexit and we don’t know what’s going on.
Right now we are operating on SNAFU, situation normal all..well you can fill in the rest.
This state of limbo is just the start of uncertainty, even if an agreement is reached it will be so broad that how it impacts individual industries won’t be seen for a number of years.
But it is already impacting businesses and lives. My business is supported by an EU backed initiative that provides access to help and mentoring. That will go. A friend told me on Friday that he is officially at risk, a pre-redundancy state, as the company that he worked at for eight years is partially funded by the EU.
It could be argued that these programs could continue as the government would be able to use some of the money that we’ll no longer be giving the EU. But the government has given no commitment to any such undertaking.
In the run-up to the referendum, we were told that the money we gave could be reallocated into the NHS. But the figures bandied about by the politicians didn’t account for support of existing projects.
I understand that the amount of projects funded by the EU in the UK doesn’t amount to the money we pay in. But there has been no talk of ring-fencing money for these existing projects.
This is just one example of the uncertainty we face.
We were told it would all be simple and that we’d be better off. I thought then, as I do now, that there could be some real benefit of being out of the EU. But my worries about our lack of ability to negotiate a beneficial exit have unfortunately been proven to be true.
No one, remainer or leaver, is going to be satisfied by the negotiated outcome. These things should have discussed in far more detail before the referendum. We were ill-formed and ill-prepared.
That is why I am supporting a second referendum based on what we know when a final deal is reached.

And for those of you who don’t know what SNAFU means look it up, there is a lot to learn in this world but some things never change.

GDPR, Consent and B2B emails explained

Part of our work here at Doogheno involves sending B2B emails for lead generation.  Sometimes its’s for ourselves, sometimes it’s for our customers, such as a large survey we do every year with a company called ServiceteamIT.

Most people respond well.

Some don’t.  Some say you have no right to send me an email, you are in breach of GDPR, some are even less polite than that.

But the simple truth of the matter is that in the UK you can still send cold B2B email.

GDPR makes no distinction between a personal email address and a business email address.  However, UK law does, it is this differentiation that allows companies to still email other businesses, primarily for marketing but in this instance an invitation to take part in research. This is because PECR, which is the electronic communications regulation that has been in place for many years and last updated in 2015, is not replaced by GDPR or the 2018 Data Protection Act in the UK and allows for contact without consent.

However, GDPR does introduce legislation that means that outreach emails can only be sent under certain circumstances and that this communication needs to still be compliant.

There is a legal basis for sending business to business email which is called Legitimate Interest.  Currently, this allows for business to business emailing where the recipient has not given consent to processing providing a legitimate interest test has been carried out and passed, and the sender recognises and respects the rights and freedoms of the recipient, such as responding to their request and actioning the request.

The legitimate interest test is made up of three parts, Identification of a Legitimate Interest, a necessity test ad a balancing test.  In the first part, we look at if the recipient is likely to find the information relevant to their job function, in this case, it is a survey that will be used to provide insight into UK technology adoption and made available after anonymisation which is reasonable to believe will be informative to the recipient.  The second part of the test covers necessity and we ask is there another way we could reasonably communicate this information.  And the third part looks at balance, do your rights as a data citizen outweigh our need to send the information, as we recognise and respect the recipient’s rights such as providing details on the basis for processing and giving details of how to stop processing or correct any errors we believe that balance is equal.  This approach is defined by the ICO and is fully compliant with GDPR.

The ICO states that in the case of B2B emails that this balance will generally fall with on the side of the sender but obviously don’t send irrelevant information to the wrong people.  If you are sending relevant information to someone who it is reasonable to believe will find that information of value and interest then you should be ok.

From the ICO Guidelines

“142. These rules on consent, the soft opt-in and the right to opt out do not apply to electronic marketing messages sent to ‘corporate subscribers’ which means companies and other corporate bodies eg limited liability partnerships, Scottish partnerships, and government bodies. The only requirement is that the sender must identify itself and provide contact details.”

“145. In addition, many employees have personal corporate email addresses (eg firstname.lastname@org.co.uk), and individual employees will have a right under section 11 of the DPA to stop any marketing being sent to that type of email address.”

And the ICO Guidance on PECR

“Although the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) only protects individuals, PECR apply to any direct marketing by phone, fax, email or other electronic means. This means that PECR protects companies and other corporate bodies from unwanted marketing, as well as protecting individuals.

However, there are different rules for marketing to corporate bodies and marketing to individuals. PECR place fewer limits on marketing to corporate bodies – but there are still limits.”

“The rules on marketing by email or text are different. The only obligation on the organisation sending the email or text is that they must not conceal their identity, and must provide contact details.

There is no right to opt out, or to register with a preference service. However, it is still worth asking an organisation to stop sending you marketing emails or texts. Most organisations will not want to waste resources or risk their reputation by sending unwanted messages.

Individual employees with personally identifiable work email addresses (eg firstname.lastname@org.co.uk) can, however, make a written request to stop receiving marketing emails under s11 of the DPA. Organisations must then stop using that email address for marketing purposes within a reasonable period.”

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/marketing/the-rules-around-business-to-business-marketing-the-gdpr-and-pecr/

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-pecr/electronic-and-telephone-marketing/electronic-mail-marketing/

https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1537/companies-receiving-unwanted-marketing.pdf

 

And if you found this article of use you will be interested in https://doogheno.com/2018/03/29/gdpr-sales-marketing-a-practical-guide/

 

 

GDPR + Sales & Marketing – A Practical Guide

In preparing for compliance, companies have tended to focus on how they hold and store current data. They have not given much thought to the impact of GDPR on day to day operations. Your company should already be a long way down the line with its preparation. This paper is not intended for Data Controllers within an organisation or to advise you on how to ensure you are ready across your company for GDPR, it is intended as a reference source for the people handling data subject information within your sales and marketing departments.

The introduction of GDPR will impact every area of business, sales and marketing in particular, as it brings with it a requirement for a new level of responsibility. New data collection and the use and storage of data within departments have tended to be overlooked. This short paper looks at the specific practical implications of GDPR on sales and marketing. Every Information source on GDPR details the very high fines that accompany the new regulations, up to €20 million or 4% of global turnover. This alone should be enough to focus your mind on conforming to the regulations, and we believe that if you follow solid principles and best practice, your business will be able to achieve compliance and avoid incurring fines. Throughout this paper, it is assumed that the companies involved are working in the B2B space within the UK. We also assume that you have already had a look at the GDPR regulations that will be coming into force in May. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect on the 25th of May, 2018.

What is your risk?

It is unlikely that your company will be picked for an audit, so for sales and marketing, the highest risks within your control are data breach, or being reported by an unhappy contact. Your Data Controller should inform you of what to do in the event of a data breach, and you should familiarise yourself with the process of immediately reporting a breach to them. Being prepared and efficiently handling requests from contacts, to opt out of future communications for example, will minimise risk. But this is not an excuse to be complacent, one complaint could be very disruptive to your business and lead to a damaging fine. GDPR might feel frustrating but it is for the benefit of us all as it protects how our personal data is being held and used. It is good practice to treat every contact with the same security and diligence with which we’d expect our credit card company to treat our own personal data.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a ruling intended to protect the data of citizens within the European Union. The GDPR is a move by The Council of the European Union, European Parliament, and European Commission to provide citizens with a greater level of control over their personal data. This applies to the UK and will not be affected by Brexit.

The basic principles are:

Lawfulness, fairness and transparency Personal data shall be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to the data subject

Purpose limitation Personal data shall be collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes

Data minimisation Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed Accuracy Personal data shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date

Storage limitation Personal data shall be kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed Integrity and confidentiality

Personal data shall be processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures

Accountability The controller shall be responsible for, and be able to demonstrate compliance with the GDPR

If you are new to GDPR I recommend that you read the Information Commissioners Office Guide https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide- to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/

As we are looking at the specifics of job functions we are only working with the main points that you should be aware of. This guide is intended to enhance your knowledge and allow you to apply it to your job role.

The Basics
…the processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes may be regarded as carried out for a legitimate interest.”

GDPR requires the sending party to justify that a communication is in the legitimate interest of, and does not risk the privacy of, the individual concerned. The following of a three-step process, a Legitimate Interest Assessment, is required. This assessment should be recorded and attached to the record in the CRM in case it is required at a later date. Details of your legitimate interests must be included in your privacy notice.

1. Identify a legitimate interest. Sending a sales email to a person within a company who has decision-making responsibility for specifying and purchasing services that you sell would be a legitimate interest.

2. Is it necessary? Could this communication be achieved by another means? The business objective could determine necessity.

3. Strike a balance. Do the recipient’s rights override the sender’s interests in sending the email?

Legitimate Interest Legitimate interest is already reasonably well established and understood, as it is the basis for unsubscribe links. Any contact can object to direct marketing and this principle still remains. In most instances, Legitimate Interest will be used as legal grounds for marketing activity. But this does not give marketers carte blanche to continue the practices they have used previously.

If you want to read the rest of this guide download it for free from here

How will GDPR impact sales and marketing?

The arrival of GDPR will fundamentally change how sales and marketing is done, some may argue not but still in many companies prospecting is all about dirty outreach.  By dirty, I mean uncontrolled and left up to salespeople, who end up running shadow databases, bringing over contacts from all companies, cold calling and cold emailing.

Companies need to be adopting inbound marketing and they need to be doing it right now and not in a year’s time when they are already feeling the impact.

Sometimes…every time…

We always want to help out a friend but is it always wise to do so?

I recently undertook a project for my wife’s friend that I estimated at 40 hours.  I charged at a rate that was about 1/3 of my commercial rate.

The job has taken 60 hours largely because of the client not providing clear enough instructions and changing things as they went along.

This has meant that the favour has actually impacted on day to day work as the time lost has to made up out of hours.  That’s evenings and weekends when I could be spending time with my family.

Another friend of over 25 years asked me to help with something the other day. The lesson I have learnt is that even if you are charging you still feel different to a normal customer. So you do your best and give a great service.  But at the end of the day you are doing a lot for someone.  The time could have been donated towards a charity project.

I haven’t said I will help my old friend as I simply don’t have the time. And even if I did I would have to think twice or even three times.

 

 

 

Hey guys…the traitors greeting

Hey guys. Millions of YouTube videos start with this friendly greeting but have you stopped to think what guys means and where it comes from. Some people suggest it is a derivation of the Yiddish word goy meaning a gentile one who is not of the Jewish faith.

But we have to look to the early 17th century for the real answer.

When King Henry VIII broke from the Roman Catholic Church to form the Church of England after he was excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 1533 because of his divorce of Catherine of Aragon. This lead to the English Reformation where the Catholic Church, it’s priests and worshipers were persecuted and driven out of the country. Elizabeth I and then James I continued the persecution of Catholics. The Catholic Church was driven underground and people worshipped in secret. Amongst those worshippers were a group who planned an attack on the Protestant power and kill James I by blowing up parliament. The gunpowder plot. Following a tip-off on the conspirators, Guy Fawkes was found under parliament with 20 barrels of gunpowder on the night of the 5th of November 1605.

Following Guy Fawkes execution for treachery James I’s parliament introduced the Observance of 5th November Act, which later became known as the Gunpowder Treason Day. Over the century the day was marked by sermons but also bonfires that started to become large celebrations, often burning effigies of Guy Fawkes. Towards the end of the 19th-century children began begging with effigies of Guy Fawkes, something that was still common in the late 20th century and the day started to take the name of Guy Fawkes. These ragged effigies gave rise to the slang name of a badly dressed fellow, a guy. When the word guy crossed the Atlantic it started to lose its earlier associations and just came to mean a man.

And now we use the term daily as a greeting “Hey guys” to both sexes without a thought to its origin.

Brexit, I’d rather not if it’s all the same with you

Doogheno isn’t a massive company, in fact we are the S in SME like millions of other businesses.

It’s not just big business that will be impacted by Brexit. We would be hit, we work with European businesses. But if we had different laws we’d need to bring in solicitors to draft new contracts, the customer wouldn’t want to pick up that cost so we’d have to carry it and that would make some customers unprofitable for us.

We already carry the cost of translation for these clients.

I like working with European companies, I have done it for years. Much of my business has come from Ireland, I haven’t had to translate that but I have had to learn their ways of business.

Friends of mine with small businesses also work with European companies. Any additional red tape will impact their business even more than mine.

And yes we could work with other countries but right now we have a unified legal structure that makes it easy to work with Europe.

Losing that is going to hurt my business, and in a small business that means it will impact my family and the families of our little team.

I make no bones about my views on Brexit. If we had 10 years to negotiate and transition I think it could be a good thing. But we don’t and it won’t.

My simple productivity hack

My simple productivity hack

My simple productivity hack is only plan the first 6 hours of a working day.

My day is broken down into 45 minute blocks, with built in slack time and this is only scheduled to 3pm.

On a typical day I review emails and create a day plan before I have breakfast with my family. I then get straight into my activities when I hit my desk.

I get all my chase ups done first thing. And then address anything that is awkward, weighty or unpleasant, such as dealing with the taxman so that it leaves my mind unburdened by the dread of a crappy thing I have to do.

I then work through my list.

I only plan to 3pm. I tend to work till 5:30, take a break for tea with my family, bath and bed time with my 2 year old, before returning back for an hour and a half work starting around 7.

The unscheduled time from 3-5:30 is usually taken up with creative activities. These expand into whatever time there is available and don’t fit into the 45 minute sections. So if I am writing an article for a customer I will do it in this time. Importantly actions such as research for the article, creating it’s structure or layout is done during scheduled blocks leaving free time to just create.

The time after 7 is used for company related actions such as updating the crm, planning or catching up on articles and stories I have spotted during the day.

Pipeline Vanity

What is the purpose of the pipeline?

The sales pipeline is the business end of the sales funnel. When you can start to actually put some hard figures against prospects they can move into the pipeline. It is the job of the marketing team and the sales team to move these prospects through the funnel to a point where a monetary value, time frame and probability can be called an opportunity.

While sales are in the funnel they can be moved backwards and forwards but the aim is to get them all through to the pipeline stage. Having 1,000 early stage leads in the funnel should equate to a healthy pipeline but the pipeline may not always be as healthy as it seems at first glance.

Most pipelines suffer from pipeline vanity. The pipeline doesn’t reflect reality. It is inflated. People want their contribution to the pipeline to reflect well on them, and at every stage, a shine is put on the pipeline that amplifies the small over optimistic rounding up of the last stage.

To understand why this happens we need to look at who is involved with compiling the pipeline.

When a salesperson takes over the lead to the pipeline from the marketing funnel they have to qualify the lead. If the marketing team are using the growth marketing approach they will have been building the lead to an opportunity and it should be handed over as largely qualified. But salespeople are hungry for leads so often they run with them while they really should be still in the marketing funnel. This causes a problem as the sales people have now a number of unqualified leads. The sales person is often under pressure to show a healthy pipeline, and this can be at the expense of an accurate pipeline. Deals which are unqualified appear in the pipeline.

We have seen an example of this where a telecoms company require their salespeople to forecast 75% of their quarterly in advance. They are asked to commit to these deals. We have spoken to the sales people and they all said that their forecasted pipeline was over 50% made up of deals that they at best hoped would come in during that quarter. Often their target was achieved largely of deals that did not appear on their quarterly forecast.

Salespeople are lazy, they go for the easiest deals, they don’t prospect for new business if they can get away with not having to, and I say this having been a sales person and having managed sales people. All sales people enjoy the win, few enjoy the work. So when their sales manager asks to see their pipeline the sales person is inclined to over inflate some deals. They increase the monetary value, they bring forward close dates, they increase their probability to close and they include deals which they really don’t know enough about to include in any pipeline or even worse deals which they know to be dead but removing them will leave a big hole.

The sales manager should be on top of this and work through the sales persons pipeline with them ensuring each deal is correctly qualified, too often this does not happen. The sales manager may feel the need to add their own gloss onto the pipeline. They will have to present the pipeline to their management and that needs to reflect well on them and their ability to run a sales team.

By the time the management team get to see the pipeline and forecast the collective total of rounding up, phantom deals and a little bit of polish can give the impression that the sales team are flying and the marketing team are feeding them high-quality deals.

However, the tweaking and polishing may not be over at that point. The management team have to answer to investors and shareholders. The temptation can be to pull deals forward, over estimate deal values and deal probability to look good and maybe even to hide any short comings. You may tweak the pipeline to make you feel better about things, to bury your head rather than address an oncoming problem but the problem is still there. Get it out into the open and get real visibility of where you are as a business.

It should be obvious how damaging pipeline vanity can be to a business. Not knowing what deals are coming in and when removes the ability to accurately forecast income and cash flow. Businesses can fail because of pipeline vanity. But it goes no. I have been called into businesses to address the overlong sales cycle, only to find that the majority of the deals in the pipeline were not real. They would never close as the customers never had any intention of buying the services.

If you do not have a clear and accurate picture of your true pipeline you cannot manage your business. You cannot identify potential short falls or major problems within the marketing and sales teams.

One London based SaaS company reported that they had a pipeline of over £5 million, at the time double its turnover. They believed that their pipeline was strong enough to negate the need for ongoing marketing. They did not separate the marketing funnel from the sales pipeline, they had not qualified the leads and were including completely unqualified leads in their sales pipeline. This pipeline was presented to investors. They also believed that they had enough in the pipeline to cut back completely on marketing.

They only converted 4% of this reported pipeline in 12 months and an additional 6% of this pipeline in the following 12 months. The result of the misunderstanding and misreporting of the pipeline included having to take dramatic actions including redundancies.

Another company held two pipelines, one that they used internally and one they presented to investors. The outcome of this was that the company fell short of expectations and was unable to raise funds again from their initial investors.

Pipeline vanity can be eradicated easily but if you are looking at your pipeline now be prepared for a shock, when you apply some basic principles you may not like what you see.

The first simple action is to define company-wide qualification criteria. The sales person should be using the same qualification criteria as the board are presenting to the investors. If you are doing your own sales and don’t have a sales team you still need to define your qualification criteria. If you have been in business for a while you will have the luxury to be able to look at historic deals and then build qualification criteria that match what happened in those deals. If you don’t have that level of data you have to make a judgement call to what you call qualified and what information that you want to know before it can enter the sales pipeline.

The basic criteria may be if the customer has an assigned budget, you know when they will be looking to buy the service and who ultimately signs off the order. Without this most basic information, you do not have a forecastable opportunity to add to the pipeline. You should weigh your opportunities based on their likelihood to close. While it might be tempting to feel that because the customer said they were going to buy it that you should put this at 100% likely hood to come in. But verbal confirmation should really sit no higher than 60% unless you have an existing billing relationship with that customer.

I have painted the picture that pipeline vanity is the result of willful misreporting and while we feel that is the largest factor and another big contributor is simply different people reading the situation with the customer in a different way. One persons “the customer is ready to sign” is another persons, ” I think we need to address that technical question to win their confidence”.

Whatever your agreed criteria it is important that everyone who has an interest in the pipeline understands what the criteria are and applies it to any input they provide. When you now apply this to the pipeline you will see a lot of deals drop out of the pipeline. That will be scary. But now you have a true view. It’s better to see 10 real deals than 100 where 90 of them are phoney. It just may not feel like it right now.

If you are managing the pipeline in Excel stop. That’s bad. Don’t do it. Get yourself a CRM system. Get your team all working on the same system, filling in the same field. Not only will you get better visibility you will also eliminate one of the big pipeline accuracy problems. Excel spreadsheets are hard to compare. You will not see trends, you will not see that deal hasn’t been in the pipeline for 6 months, but it’s 12. You will not see that some sales people will recycle deals back onto the pipeline when its a little light for them that month.

Pipeline vanity isn’t just something that is a problem in small business. We have seen it in large enterprises, where the phrase bullshit gets fed up the line is never truer. Some companies have even been known to book deals that are still in the pipeline to make their figures look better.

If you take one thing away from this post please make it about pipeline accuracy and remove pipeline vanity from your company, no matter how scary it makes your pipeline look.