Kill Your Zombie Opps

Ryan Walsh, CEO & Founder
Ryan Walsh, CEO & FounderOct 3, 2023

As we start another Q4, I have some advice: three quick steps to drastically increase your odds of getting to your number this quarter. 

Fair warning: Some of you are really going to disagree with this, but hear me out: 

  1. Go into your CRM.
  2. Look at all your open opportunities. 
  3. Set 25 percent of them to Closed-Lost.

Yup. Kill them.

Reduce the Pipeline?! Really?

I know what you’re thinking. The more opps in the pipeline, the better chance you have of hitting your number this quarter.

But be honest — how many of those opps have you moved from one quarter to the next over and over again? How many are more than a year old? Frankly, it’s probably more than 25%, right?

You’re not alone. The vast majority of pipelines have a set of deals that I’d label “blind hopes.” 

They’re zombie opportunities. Walking dead. At one time you were convinced they were sure deals. But your contact keeps kicking the can. Or you haven’t heard from them at all. You know these opps won’t close. You’ve kind-of always known that, right? 

Zombie opps trying to take your attention away from other opps you can actually close this quarter.

Those opps won’t help you reach your number. Spending time on them is a waste. 

So, rip the band-aid off. It will feel painful (and maybe counterintuitive), but total pipeline can be a vanity metric.

Not All Pipeline is Created Equal

The sales pipeline is great for tracking prospects along the buying journey, and pipeline numbers can be very helpful for prioritizing actions and understanding the health of the sales org.

But if zombie opps are allowed to stall and remain in the pipeline, those benefits go out the window.

Every sales pro knows they won’t close every deal. Focus on those that have a chance. Put all your energy there. And the best way to do that is to kill off all the opps that have been hanging around when they never had a chance.

But What Will My Manager Say?

After you close-lost a quarter of your open opps, your manager may freak out about you not having enough pipeline. 

Here’s my advice for that. Walk them through why you did it. If they’re a good manager, they’ll get it. Heck, they may encourage the rest of the org to follow your lead.  Better to put the freed up bandwidth into pursuing the remaining opps that have a chance to close, and also sourcing fresh opportunities for new business.

If they don’t get it, well — it’s not always the case, but it might be a sign to start looking for your next org. A manager worried more about the dollar amount in the pipeline than the one in the win column should be a red flag.

See which orgs have most reps hitting quota, check salaries, and leadership scores for thousands of orgs.

I hope you have a strong Q4, and hope this advice helps you hit your numbers.

Good luck out there!

Ryan Walsh is the CEO and founder of RepVue. He has over two decades experience selling, leading sales teams, and mentoring sales professionals. Prior to founding RepVue, Ryan ran a successful consulting practice and spent over 17 years as an operator and executive, including as Chief Revenue Officer for SaaS e‑commerce software company ChannelAdvisor.

Anonymously rate a company to get full access to RepVue's sales org data
  • Salary & compensation data
  • % Team to achieve quota
  • Product market fit scores
  • Leadership scores
Explore Companies