Apr 082011

Sales Pipeline: Plan, Execute, Win Through Lead Generation! 

Sales Pipleine: By Joe Guertin  , President of The Guertin Group, Via Sales Gravy

The most successful and profitable salespeople are constantly finding new ways to fill their sales pipeline. Now is the best time to get out there and start building new business.

Imagine your selling cycle as a sales pipeline. Make new contacts and you send them into your sales pipeline, where you’ll work with them on fact-finding and brainstorming. You’re getting to know them and they’re getting to know you. They come out the other end when they buy. Now, if there aren’t enough prospects in the sales pipeline, and a business slowdown occurs, you’re stuck. There goes your commission check.

When a slowdown occurs, most of us will blame time. Even people who are good time managers find it difficult to do it all when it comes to maintaining current customers. With all the contact and administrative time required it’s hard to be effective prospectors.

But the top performers know that’s just an excuse, so they do what it takes ahead of time to avoid the empty sales pipeline problem. Their strategy is based on three clearly defined steps:

· Have a plan. The essential elements of the plans of all the top performers include having a goal, a prospect list and the means to measure their progress.The 20-4-1 Rule says that for every 20 prospects called, only about four will eventually entertain serious proposals from you, and only one out of those four will buy right away.

We can argue the justifications of specific numbers, but the lesson is this: Not every prospect called is going to buy immediately, so plan to talk to as many prospects as possible.

Another part of your plan is creating a list of target prospects. These are what we call future customers. Don’t just list top-of mind names, invest some time and do a little digging via business publications, online resources or networking to create a larger, more balanced list of large, small, short-term and long-term prospects. Then measure your progress. Some companies will measure the number of new prospects visited on a weekly basis, or the number of presentations made.

During peak times, sales professionals sometimes use cluster contact systems. For example, they send mass mailings that include articles and handwritten notes to all the prospects in the sales pipeline, keeping themselves and their companies at the top of each prospect’s mind.

· Set aside business development time. One of the smartest ways to discipline yourself is to isolate blocks of time every week for new business development. Treat that time like you would an appointment with your best customer, and schedule other activities around it.

· Exert personal discipline. You’re busy; everyone’s busy. Yet, peak performers make the time to keep growing. Business development will be unsuccessful if it’s only an occasional thing. Your existing accounts may be exhausting your time now. Adding yet another activity may seem to hinder your ability to serve them. Challenge yourself, be disciplined and every week when you fulfill your plan, reward yourself.

I made a reference to successful and profitable salespeople earlier. Here’s why: When you have a steady stream of prospective customers, you’re going to present and negotiate with a calm, clear mind, and be far less likely to suffer from Midnight Urgency. You know what I mean, that feeling of waking up in the middle of the night thinking, “I’ll do anything to get that order!” Your confidence will help you close more sales while your integrity stays intact.

Work your plan and keep your sales pipeline filled. You’ll feel better about your sales career, sleep great at night and make a ton of money, too.

Joe Guertin is president of The Guertin Group. This article is excerpt from Top Dog Recession-Busting Sales Secrets, a new book that gives you sales advice and inspiration in 80 quick read lessons from 50 leading sales experts.  Click here to learn more.  

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Tom McDonald, tsm@centurytel.net; 608-788-5144; Skype: tsmw5752

sales pipeline, McDonald Sales and Marketing, LLC