It’s a fact: if you’re in business you need clients to buy your products or services and regardless of whether or not you retain your clients for a long time (hence enjoying recurring revenue!), you must have an active sales pipeline.
It seems pretty prudent yet some business people believe the following:
If I build it they will come
I depend on referrals for everything
I’ve been lucky
All of these business development “strategies” have some degree of risk associated with them and may not lead to the desired outcomes. A better approach is to maintain a robust sales pipeline.
Here are some things that you should take into consideration when building and maintaining a sales pipeline:
Size counts! Regardless of your closing rate, an almost empty pipeline will probably not yield the number of clients that you require to grow your business. You must engage in multiple outreach efforts in order to develop the leads that will go into your sales pipeline. These include:
• Strategic networking
• Email marketing
• Optimized website and landing
• Participation in tradeshows and conferences
• Direct mail
• Articles and speaking engagements
It’s apparent that some of these outreach methods are not only more costly than others but some tactics may also yield results much faster. It’s important to analyze your existing pipeline and budget in order to make the right decision for your company.
• How many names are in your existing sales pipeline?
• What is the percentage likelihood that they will result in business?
• How soon will they close?
• What’s your touch point management plan to stay on their radar screens?
Remember that the more you know about who is in your pipeline and how these leads are responding to your sales efforts, the better able you will be at projecting your upcoming workflow and associated revenue.
And just to reiterate luck isn’t a strategy. Effective pipeline management is one of the keys to success.