What In the World are “UFOs” in Sales?

One of the top productivity killers for sales reps is over-focusing and over-investing in low-probability Opportunities (Opps) which clog up your sales pipeline and distract reps from focusing on the high-probability Opportunities. We refer to a bad Sales Opportunity (i.e. Opp) in a slightly comical and symbolic way as a “UFO” which is just meant to emphasize that the sales rep should be very cautious – i.e. be wary of UFOs.

Unlikely & Failing Opps

But this abbreviation/acronym actually stands for something very important in the sales process that everyone must be very wary of – UFOs are *Unlikely & Failing Opps*. In plain English, Low-Probability Opportunities that are already Unlikely (and Unattractive in your otherwise healthy pipeline). Plus they are Failing (and Faulty, Fluttering, Flawed) because they are already showing some bad signs and are likely not going to lead to a successful outcome (i.e Closed-Won). A good sales professional and) any sales manager will sense (using both data and situational selling awareness) that these are clearly not the kinds of Opps that we should have in the pipeline.

Unfortunately, many sales reps have invested their time into these UFOs and have an emotional attachment by the time these UFOs are already in the middle stages of the Sales Pipeline. Reps lose their objectivity and cling on to these UFOs. This is where good Sales Managers come in.

Sales managers have no emotional attachment and their job during an Opportunity/Deal Review Meeting is to help the rep identify such low-probability opportunities and prune them out of the pipe. Good sales managers monitor for a sales rep’s cognitive biases like confirmation bias or the sales-specific (but not yet “named” by the renown behavioral psychologists…not yet anyway) but which all Sales Professionals know about like: Happy Ears, Deal Overconfidence, Emotional Attachment, etc.

Don’t get stuck with UFOs in your pipeline – the “Unlikely & Failing Opps”. Sales UFOs are quite real – they are a big distraction and are very dangerous (i.e. for your productivity, for your focus on high-probability Opps, and thus for your ability to hit your sales targets).

Original is posted at Leading Teams – Decisions by Consensus vs. Conviction.