Keeping the pipeline filled with qualified opportunities is one of the toughest things a sales person is required to do. And just as water in a pipe will follow the path of least resistance, so will a sales person when not kept on task. It’s like homework in college or that dentist appointment that you’re putting off; eventually these issues have to be addressed.
But why do today what you can put off until tomorrow? Introducing the #1 pipeline killer – procrastination. Just like pressure gets water in a pipe moving, a plan is the best way to prevent procrastination from sneaking in.
Here are 3 ways to bite off a “chewable” plan and keep constantly back filling the pipeline:
- Assess Current Customers – in many industries 60-70 % of new revenue is generated from the existing customer base. These prospects are the most likely to close in a timely, predictable time frame. Forecasting this revenue is the most accurate. As a frequent customer of a Brooks Brothers, I was recently contacted by a sales person. Through our conversation I gathered that I was a targeted customer because I spent $X in their store every year. They know that I’m already a buyer and with an assigned salesperson they could easily increase those sales.
- Assess the Quality of Leads – no matter if leads are given to you or leads are organically generated, the most qualified leads are those with a personal connection. In today’s world we are interconnected as in no other time in history. That’s the marvel of social media. I find in my business that the business-focused social media is very beneficial. Do I know who someone in the company that I’m targeting? An introduction from a mutual acquaintance turns a cold lead into a really warm lead in an instant. To spend time most effectively is the name of the game, and one of the ways I do this is with social media.
- Assess Progress with a Milestone – This is adding water pressure to the pipe. The speed and velocity of the water through the pipe depends on pressure. Sales people need triggers in place that quickly determine the speed and velocity of deal from contact to close. There needs to be a trigger immediately after the first conversation. Did the customer share any goals with me? If so, that’s someone I need to spend more time pursuing. The best milestone that can provide a great forecasting tool is a Deal Map. This is a document that lists by date and responsibility a map of the deal. Buyer and seller agree to the terms and proposed timeline of the deal. When both parties are working off the same document, forecasting probability and close date are easy to determine.
To get to the golden customer sometimes it means you have to sift through 100 not-so-golden ones. It’s easier to tackle this daunting task with a plan. As the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, so wisely said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”