A salesperson without a pipeline is like a farmer without seeds; that said, he’s not much of a farmer. Most salespeople understand the need for a healthy and robust pipeline of leads and opportunities so that they can hit their sales goal and earn a good living. Without it, you are stuck hoping for a few opportunities to drip in, but that won’t be enough to quench the thirst for sales. But let’s assume that by now, you already understand what your sales pipeline is and why it is important. Instead, let’s talk about the fact that your pipeline has several leaks that you didn’t even know about. Not only can you fix those leaks, but you probably caused them in the first place.
A leak in the pipeline means that there are good opportunities that have escaped you and you didn’t even know it. If you get enough leads to close then you may find this acceptable, but leaks, in any sense of the word, cost money. These are potential leads that fell through the cracks because there is a deficiency in your process. In other words, we don’t always do the best we can to develop the leads we have been given. Here are a few ways you can fix some of the leaks in your pipeline.
- Add more touches to your prospecting sequence – Too many salespeople are ready to throw in the towel after 3 attempts to reach someone. I don’t blame you for feeling discouraged, but you really don’t start making meetings and money until you try 6 to 8 times. In fact, 10 would be the minimum amount of times you should try to reach someone before you decide to move on. You missed a lot of opportunities just by giving up too soon.
- Diversify your approach to reaching prospects – So many of us rely on one or two methods to connect with people, and we prefer more passive-aggressive tactics with email because it is easier and faster. However, is this less effective? Prospects will never tell you this, but many actually like to be courted. There are a variety of ways to get your prospects’ attention besides emails and phone calls. Maybe it is time to brush up on your Linkedin and Facebook skills. You’d be surprised at how much a handwritten note sent in the mail can really get someone’s attention. Be creative and differentiate yourself from the start by adding fresh approaches to your prospecting.
- Increase your frequency – Sometimes we let too much time pass when trying to get the attention of new customers. I understand that you don’t want to be annoying or pushy, but one of the primary functions of your job is to interrupt people. If you are waiting more than a week for your follow up attempts, chances are you have already become forgettable. Try to schedule your touches in 3-day intervals instead.
- Change your message – We condition our prospects to tune out our message as it becomes noise among the other messages they are receiving. Perhaps they just aren’t connecting with what you thought was compelling. There is a good chance that there are customers that are a great fit for you, but they didn’t understand your message and they leaked right out of your pipeline.
- Embrace persistence – This is more than adding more steps to your prospecting sequence, this is about adopting a mindset of not giving up. Believing in yourself and acting tenaciously gives you the drive to explore the potential of every opportunity you receive. Make sure you give the opportunity your best shot before you let it leak out of your pipeline. You’ll be surprised at how many more yes’s you are going to get by pushing onward.
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