How Can I Quickly Build a Bigger Prospect Pipeline So it Flows?
“The problem is that I get consumed closing some really big deals and wake up one day with no solid prospects in the pipeline,” Jim told me when started working together. “Then it’s 3 lean months before I’ve got minimal cash flow again. He’s not alone. The question facing most businesses is:
“How can I quickly build up that pipeline with a steady flow of customers?”
Understand the Buyer’s Journey
If you want to fill your pipeline in the first place, you need to understand their C.R.O.P.S. (Challenges, Risks, Opportunities, Priorities and Strategy). For starters, you would guestimate/profile their likely C.R.O.P.S. so you can start a productive conversation. You might open with a relevant insight of a brick wall or problem they’re likely to face if they remain on their current path. Or you might ask a power question and hope they’re willing to open up to you. If they can clearly define their challenge, then you’re late to the party: they’ve likely developed an idea of how they plan to address their dilemma. Thanks to the internet and the plethora of blogs, prospects are 57% along the buying process before they engage a sale person/solution provider. So you’ve got to find out whether they perceive they have a problem and then where they are in the decision process.
The initial contact is everything. You have to do your homework before you approach them. RFPs are reactionary. The successful sale pro of the future must be proactive. “Selling” in the future may be relegated to the internet or a sales desk and become transactional. Consultative selling, especially of complex products/services, must be done by skilled people. So once you’re clear on your Ideal Client and Minimum Acceptable Client, you must
Think of your prospects as customers-in-the-making.
Establish Metrics for Each Stage of the Pipeline
A key factor in not only building a pipeline of prospective customers, but also maintaining a steady flow, is the use of metrics at each stage of the pipeline. Track the number of different prospects and potential dollar volume in each stage. And where are they in your relationship journey: Qualified prospect? Discovery completed? Solution presented? Decision made? Solution being implemented?
Match Sales and Marketing Techniques to the Buyer Journey
As just mentioned, no good product or sales deal works without understanding what type of customer fits that mold and how to get them involved. Your marketing techniques need to effectively move customers from stage one to stage two in your pipeline by figuring out what it is they are looking for. Once you’ve discovered that, you can improve your marketing techniques and your conversational strategy and skills to boost flow through your pipeline. I find in coaching my clients that the biggest gap lies in their conversational skills. This is where an experienced coach can transform your business and provide a ROI that is multiples of your investment in improving your skills. Experience is an expensive teacher. The right coach will accelerate your learning journey and provide vital in-the-moment feedback through practice before your big presentation.
Fix Leaky Parts of the Pipeline
Every pipeline is capable of becoming bogged down with bottlenecks. There are many reasons for bottlenecks in your pipeline, such as having a lot of customers flowing in but spending too much time on administration to actually get them moving through the process. Find the bottlenecks first and then work on improving them one item at a time.
You can find cracks in your funnel as well as where you are moving customers from stage one, to stage two, but perhaps losing them before stage three. In many cases, a lack of consistent follow-ups leads to customers falling through the cracks in your pipeline. Building an effective prospect pipeline requires diligence and consistent monitoring to ensure that bottlenecks are cleared, cracks are filled, and most importantly that your conversational strategy and skills are helping answer the wants and needs of your potential customers without potential hurdles to conversion.
Is your pipeline lumpy? Is your cash flow erratic? Are you converting over 40% of your presentations into closed business? Are your margins preserved or are you nitpicked by the customer by scope creep? Are you succinctly stating how your solution precisely solves their stated need?
Whatever happened to Jim and his pig-in-a-python-pipeline problem? We fixed it. 2016 was his best year ever. With consistent cash flow.
How can I quickly build a bigger pipeline that flows consistently? Know your Ideal Client Profile. Measure each segment of your pipeline. Be disciplined to regularly coddle each segment of your pipeline. Improve your communication skills of listening and persuasion.
For more information on how, please contact Trust Performance Coaching.