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You Are Here: Home - Newsletters - "Organized For A Living" - Article

Keeping The Pipeline Full


Every professional salesperson can relate to the classic problem of maintaining a supply of QUALIFIED sales leads through the highs and lows of a typical selling cycle.
A REAL CHALLENGE

Salespeople often feel that maintaining a sufficient level of well qualified future selling opportunities while CLOSING the high priority immediate sales is a next to impossible task. It is an axiom of the selling profession that when you are at your busiest with prospects that desire to reach a buying decision soon, the long term future opportunities aren’t being developed simply because you are expending all your time and talent to close what is within reach now. Of course any right thinking salesperson will focus their efforts on the OPPORTUNITIES directly in front of them.
THE ONE-PERSON BUSINESS

Consider also other professional occupations where the selling and delivery often are represented in one person. People engaged in professional occupations such as accountants, lawyers and civil engineers along with a wide variety of independent consultants often must sell their services and then deliver the consulting or professional work themselves. Once their selling efforts start to bear fruit, their time is suddenly fully COMMITTED in fulfilling their client obligations. The SELLING effort ceases or deceases significantly. As the work nears completion, the cycle is now at low tide. Sufficient time exists to sell, but revenue drops dramatically as workload decreases.
SOVLING THE PROBLEM

How can anyone responsible for selling avoid the dilemma of peaks and valleys in future sales activities? As the founder of a professional sales lead development service, I have worked extensively with my clients to assist them with sales lead DEVELOPMENT. Whether you rely on an outside service for lead development or expect your own internal sales staff to manage the process, in my experience EMPTY pipeline syndrome.
A PROCESS, NOT A DESTINATION

First, understand the concept that selling is really a continuing PROGRESSION of activity rather than a “selling cycle” with a definite beginning and end. What I mean by this is simply that prospect needs are fluid and change constantly, both due to internal factors that they have some degree of control over such as a new product launch, and external factors beyond their control such as a new government regulation. With that in mind, every sales presentation or meeting should address the immediate defined customer need while also laying groundwork for FUTURE potential needs that can be fulfilled by your service or product.
MINING YOUR DATABASE

Stop to think about your CURRENT customers. What do you know about their strategic plans to grow their business? Are they pursuing new products or services? Are they looking to expand their customer base? To penetrate new industries? As you develop your sales calls relative to their needs, problems and aspirations, you can begin to accumulate ideas for future selling opportunities. Compile a log of key points relative to their future direction and you have begun to fill a pipeline of future UNTAPPED selling opportunities for yourself. You benefit from this in two ways. First, you are creating the basis for offering future solutions in a progressive business relationship. This addresses the need to keep that pipeline filled at all times. Second, as you come to better understand your customers problems, opportunities and needs, you position yourself as a consultative value added resource and thus differentiate yourself from your competitors.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK?

Another good tactic is to always ask for a REFERRAL from your current contacts to others in their organization that might be potential users of your product or service. Very often, there is more than one individual or department within a given organization that can benefit from what you offer. Never assume that you have met with everyone that could buy from you in that particular company. Also, don’t assume that your current contact would have VOLUNTEERED information on co-workers that might be interested in meeting with you. Everyone is busy trying to stay ahead of their own responsibilities and the thought might never have occurred to them.
YOUR VIP LIST

Lastly, think about your best customers –- the people you have developed relationships with that go BEYOND business to include sharing stories about families, hobbies and sports for example. Ask these good customers about their professional and community involvement outside of work. People tend to associate and socialize with others that have similar interests. There is a good possibility you could be introduced or referred to an excellent prospect in a high POTENTIAL account you have been trying to get into but couldn’t because you lacked a contact.
PLENTY ON YOUR PLATE

Try these ideas as you are closing sales today and you will start to FILL up the pipeline for opportunities tomorrow.

 

Greg Evershed has over 23 years sales experience in B to B markets. His consulting practice focuses on assisting clients to develop strategic selling plans and selling processes with emphasis on value added selling using business intelligence tools. He also conducts customized sales training programs focused on solution and conceptual selling. He may be contacted at .


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