As I sit watching the Pats and Raiders play, I realize that the sales pipeline is a lot like the game itself. At the beginning of the game, we are full of hope and excitement. Grown men and women are practically dancing in their seats in anticipation as they drown their munchies with cold drinks, arguing about the chances of each team. That’s how every marketing campaign starts, with a clean slate and open pipeline waiting to be filled. As the game progresses and four quarters slowly drain into precious minutes, we are either gripping our seats in a hushed silence because we only have one more chance to reverse our fortunes or we see victory another yard away. So goes the sales pipeline, as our campaign comes to a close. We’re either praying for a miraculous in-flow of qualified leads or we’re sitting back smugly in our chairs, counting the leads like $20 bills. At the close, it’s the same outcome: there are no ties. You win or you lose. The difference between winning and losing can be as simple as a well planned slight of hand to the running back for victory or the missed punt heard round the world (or the region, depending on how much of a fan you are). With your next campaign, keep in mind that a well thought out plan is the difference between dancing in the end zone and watching someone else pour Gatorade over the coach. Good luck.