How to Avoid the “Peak and Trough Syndrome”



I was chatting with my colleague Colleen Francis yesterday prior to our interview, which we recorded to publicize her Top Sales Academy module, “KPI versus KP – why? Key Metrics to Track Your Results – Before it is Too Late” You will find all the details of all the Internal Sales modules on June 7th.

Anyway, we got round to chatting about the “Peak and Trough Syndrome” which is also called “Feast and Famine” – an affliction that affects most front-line sales professionals at one time or another. So I shared with Colleen how I adapted the Sales Funnel principles to avoid this malaise.

The Sales Funnel concept has in fact been around for a few years, but I took it and tailored it to meet the needs of my own teams very effectively. Essentially, it is designed to assist salespeople in managing their sales time more effectively, subsequently translating that time into real money. It is also a time-management tool which will help them to accomplish the following essential selling tasks:

  • Collating their numerous sales objectives into three categories/levels of the Sales Funnel.
  • Monitoring each sales objective’s progress, as it moves from one level into the next.
  • Setting priorities for working on the objectives in each level of the Funnel – to ensure they do not neglect any one of the three.
  • Dedicating time to the objectives, in each level of the Funnel, in a way that is appropriate to their specific situation.
  • Forecasting future income – based on how their objectives are moving through the three levels of the Funnel.

Sales Funnel is conceptually divided into three distinct parts, or levels, which correspond to the three different types of selling work. To enable salespeople to utilize the Funnel concept efficiently, they must first sort their sales objectives into these three levels:

•   Above the Funnel – Prospect & Qualify

•    In The Funnel – Cover the Bases

•   Best Few – Close the Order

Above the Funnel

The pre-requisite is that they have data that suggests a fit between their company’s products and the prospect’s needs – all of this type of work requires qualifying.

In The Funnel

The pre-requisite here is that all the opportunities have been qualified and at least one buying influencer has been met. They then need to “cover the bases” – i.e. identify all the buying influencers and ensure each one is contacted by the person best qualified to do so.

It is important that the salesperson understands the response mode of each buyer, and identifies the results each buyer needs in order “to win”, and ensures they understand that the proposal will serve his/her individual criteria.

Finally, at this stage of the cycle, they need to continually reassess “the sales picture” and eliminate areas of perceived weakness within their bid, using the principle of capitalizing on their strengths.

Best Few

Logically, the pre-requisite here is that they have all but eliminated luck and uncertainty as factors in the final buying decision – this can of course be subjective!

The tasks involved are end-tasks, like overcoming last minute objections, agreeing terms and conditions and signing orders, etc.

As sales professionals, they must be able to do all three kinds of work, but obviously they will have several possible orders that they are working on at the same time. Since they will all be at different stages of completion, they will not be doing the same kind of work on all of them at the same time.

By following this system they could potentially reduce the normal sales cycle by 50%!

Using Sales Funnel over time helps to plan time required ahead of time. The eventual objective in utilizing the Sales Funnel concept, is to be able to move the various sales opportunities down the Funnel at a steady and predictable rate. This, in turn, will mean that income and achievement level is steady and predictable.

To achieve this, there is a need to work on two interrelated tasks:

  • Setting appropriate priorities for the three kinds of selling work which need to be done.
  • Allocating limited selling time, so that the three kinds of work always get completed on a consistent basis. The simple rule of thumb is: “Every Time You Close Something, Prospect or Qualify Something Else.”

Finally, Let’s Not Forget Good Old Villfredo Pareto And His 80/20 Rule

The sales that a salesperson completes today were made possible only by activities performed in the past. Equally, it’s what they do today that will create their future sales results. Because there is a time delay between activities and results, salespeople have an opportunity to improve their sales results by undertaking sales productivity planning and implementing an effective prospecting system. Generally, since 80% of sales are generated from 20% of customers, 80% of salespeople’s time should be focused on 20% of the biggest customers/prospects.


News: Last Chance Saloon!

This is a last and final call to anyone living in Europe who is serious about expanding their commercial bandwidth and staying ahead in the game of sales…

The Sales 2.0 bandwagon is rolling into London for one day only – Monday June 3rd – and you need to be there.

Ignite your 2013 B2B sales strategy.

If you want to improve your ability to implement and execute your 2013 sales strategy, then the most successful and significant event in the conference calendar is for you.

This conference will connect you with top sales management experts and sales endorsed by both Selling Power Magazine and Sales 2.0 organizations.

Hear the latest research on building and maintaining a winning sales organization, along with proven sales management tactics.

Topics covered will include:

  • The Impact of Sales 2.0 on Sales Performance & Results
  • Customer Buyer Behaviour
  • Sales & Marketing Alignment
  • Social Media & Selling
  • Coaching/training sales
  • Sales process optimization
  • The New Sales Score Card – How to Measure Sales Performance
  • Motivating/compensating Sales Reps Effectively

You can check out the Agenda here –

And the speakers –

Watch this video – Future Of Sales Is NOW

Then book your place here –  - Save £50  if you use the code S2c13londontsw

I hope to see you there!


  1. says

    Feast and famine syndrome, that is actually a very definite name for the peak and down time of a business or company. I totally agree with the Pareto rule of thumb, that whatever you earned today, it’s actually the fruits of your labor in the past. So as a business-oriented society, we should bear in mind that time is money. And if you worked hard enough today, you’ll reap whatever you sow in the near future. Please keep writing. I find your articles very helpful even for newbie business people.

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