I frequently coach sales reps who know exactly what to say, when to say it, and have terrific, well-priced products. But they still can’t sell. Why? Because they have no prospects waiting in their sales funnel to qualify and close. And if you don’t have any prospects, you can’t make any sales. Period. To ensure you have a steady stream of new business opportunities, the following is a quick two-step process that I use in many of my coaching sessions, which can help you be more proactive with your prospecting each and every week:
Step 1: Evaluate – First, how many prospects do you really need? In most industries, you can use the average metric of about 25 “suspects” – or 3 qualified prospects – for every sale. A suspect is a cold prospect. You have an inkling that they should be interested in your product, but you haven’t talked to them yet, and they haven’t contacted or been referred to you. A qualified prospect is someone who you know has a need for your product, and a desire to buy it from someone. They also have the money to spend, and the power to make the transaction happen. To find out how many prospects you should have in your sales funnel, just multiply the number of new customers you need each year, by the number of suspects or qualified prospects it will probably take to get them.
Step 2: Execute – Once your target is set, you can start to work towards achieving it through the following four key prospecting techniques:
1) Get referrals. See page 1 of this letter.
2) Network. In any career, success or failure is a direct result of our networks, and the people we know. As the old saying goes, “take care of your people (or, in this case, your network), and your business will take care of itself.” For all their differences in approach, style and technique, the top 10% of sales people all have one thing in common: they are all more likely to employ a broad network of friends, family, acquaintances and connections to help them seize opportunities, and respond to challenges. To learn how to develop your network, take a look at our article “Getting By With a Little Help From Your Friends: 4 Fail-Safe Tips for Perfecting Your Networking Technique,” available at https://www.engageselling.com/blog/050822article_networking.shtml
3) Be a Life Giver. Life Givers know that what goes around comes around. They understand the power of reciprocity, and use it to their advantage. So don’t hoard your contacts or your value. Open your proverbial Rolodex, start making introductions and delivery value. Be the first at an event or party to provide a contact to someone you’ve just met, rather than waiting for them to give you something first. Offer articles, white papers or presentations focused on your expertise for free. Once you start sharing your contacts, information and making connections with and for others, it won’t be long before your clients and contacts start returning the favor in spades.
4) Make the calls. Last but not least, those sales reps who are at the top of their profession almost always have a short, precise “To Do” list, which relates directly to achieving their goals for the year. Right at the top of your list should be the number of prospecting calls you’re going to make every day. And to make sure it gets done, keep your list short – probably no more than 4 to 5 items a day – and make sure it gets done first thing in the morning, before all those other inevitable little “fires” can create excuses for getting to work. By carrying out your To Do list each day without fail, you’ll find your number of prospects will grow – and your business soar – faster than you ever thought possible.
Dedicated to increasing your sales,
One response to “Growing your Pipeline”
Excellent post Colleen. Especially when you said, “…take care of your people (or, in this case, your network), and your business will take care of itself” in the networking section and “…at the top of your list should be the number of prospecting calls you’re going to make every day” in the make the calls section. These two things are so simple that people should feel insulted when you feel you have to say them, but so few actually practice what you’re preaching.
And you’re right about all those little fires getting in the way of our productivity! Why oh why is it that these fires can crop up so easily when it so hard to light the fire we truly NEED? The one under ourselves! 😀 Thanks for a great post.