Do You Know How to Build a Sales Pipeline?

I was asked the other day what my best telemarketing tip was and, as boring as this may sound, my answer was “ensure you have a significant and qualified sales pipeline”. But can it really be that simple? In my humble opinion, it’s only as complicated as we allow it to be.

It’s not going to shock you to hear that your sales numbers are at risk if your pipeline is not steady and strong enough to help you achieve your sales targets. Your sales team needs to generate sufficient qualified leads that are relevant for your business. Part of the process is to qualify prospects both in AND out. That starts from data building for lead generation. Every ambitious outbound sales campaign should start with a target list. But that list should be profiled from the outset with the kind of companies with which you’d like to do business. It isn;t about mud-slinging and hoping some of it sticks. You can waste an awful lot of time and money if you don’t ensure accurate targeting from the beginning of your campaign.

And momentum in sales is paramount. Seeing a constant stream of new opportunities coming through the door energises the sales team and gives impetus to those responsible for delivering the revenue numbers. Qualification and profiling are key in these endeavours. There’s no point having a sales funnel full of irrelevant prospects that will either never do business with you or clients that spend so little that the ROI is unworkable. That’s where good sales people know how to validate and profile during a sales call. It’s about asking the right questions during the sales process. There is a fine line though. If Tesco is a target but they aren;t ready to do business right now, do you ditch them and move on? You may have to move on but it’s about establishing the right time to call back, the time when they may be reviewing suppliers, the period when new budget is available.

The above is the essence of the sales pipeline. If you get your targeting right from the data build, you will have a number of prospects at each stage of the sales cycle from those you haven’t contacted through to those where you’ve established the right time to contact them again to those that constitute hot prospects. But nothing happens without working this sales process to conclusion.

The reality is that successful business development requires planning, effort and consistency. So, unless you have a significant number of leads coming to you as a direct result of your inbound marketing efforts, you will probably need to undertake some work on your sales pipeline.  Every business has a defined gestation period before sales leads and profit begins to flow. So ask yourself two questions:

How many hot/warm leads do you have in your pipeline at the moment?

How many calls, conversations with a Gatekeeper / Decision Maker and encountering Voicemail etc does it take you to generate a sale or appointment?

Do you know what your statistics are? Successful sales people know what activity they need to put in in order to achieve their sales targets. Once they’re aware of the numbers, and know what they need to do to make those work, they are far more in control of the outcomes. And when they’re in control and aware of the figures it’s more likely that they will consistently deliver results because they understand what’s needed in terms of activity to plug any shortfalls in leads or revenue.

With the possibility (and no need to mention probability) of rejection, the only way you can achieve your sales quota is to generate the maximum number of appropriate leads and qualify the maximum number of prospects to get to that level of warm or hot leads to thereby increase the chances of selling. You may have to kiss a fair few frogs despite your efforts at data building and profiling at the start of the process. Some fish just won’t bite and some will take your arm off while trying to land the catch. However time-consuming it may be, ultimately it is important to evaluate each lead and prospect diligently so that not a single prospectibve customer engagement is wasted for now and down the line. After all, intelligent business development is not just about today. Sales pipeline management is about qualifying prospects in, but also about qualifying them out in order to have a robsut sales engine that feeds growth.

If you’d like to know how GSA Business Development can help generate growth for your business through telemarketing or social media lead generation or you’d like to book one of our new business development and marketing strategy workshops, contact us now on 0845 658 8192 or use the form on this site.

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