Our data suggest that this type of late engagement by sales in the customer’s purchase decision is frighteningly common: the average customer’s decision is nearly 60% complete by the time they engage a salesperson. And yet, we find that average performers’ pipelines are full of these types of late-stage, reactive — and often fruitless — pursuits. High-performers’ pipelines, on the other hand, tilt much more toward very early-stage, proactive opportunities. These superior reps avoid customers who have a clear understanding of what they want and instead look for customers who are going through change and will be open to new ideas. They look where demand is emerging but not yet established, where they can shape customers’ needs, rather than react to them.