Start the Year with a Strong Pipeline

With 2019 behind us it is time to start with a strong pipeline.  The stronger your pipeline the more likely you achieve your sales targets. You need a pipeline that you believe in. A pipeline with integrity. Here are a few tips to act on to create that kind of pipeline. In three months’ time, you will be glad you took action now.

  1. Not Real

An opportunity only exists if the prospective customer is really thinking about change. Calling or visiting a customer where there was some discussion about their business does not mean the customer is engaged with you in an initiative to change. These types of ‘not real’ opportunities will do you more harm later because they tend to stall. Remove these types of opportunities from your pipeline now.

  1. Recycled for the wrong reason

Sales Organizations require certain pipeline targets to be met. One of them is the number of opportunities you work on at any time. To meet these targets often salespeople go back into their non-successful opportunities and recycle some. Believe me, you are kidding yourself here, you are kidding your manager and your sales organization. If you are not engaged with the prospective customer about making a change than it is not an opportunity, it is a prospect. You have recycled these opportunities for the wrong reason. A strong pipeline requires opportunities with the potential to close to success within a reasonable time frame. Remove those that have no potential to close right now.

  1. Too Old

The age of opportunities is correlated to the natural buying cycle of a prospective customer. In Telesales this is shorter than for those in the field. Once an opportunity in Telesales turns three months old and in Field Sales six months, something isn’t right. The prospective customer has moved on and you haven’t. Or, you are held on a leash by customer promises. The truth is, you are better off without these opportunities. They take your time and the outcome is zero.

  1. Unbalanced New and Developed Business

To grow and meet budgets every company relies on the following growth sources to work well: 1. Organic growth from current customers 2. Growth from developing current customers, meaning taking business from competitors and 3. New business from companies that were not on the books a previous year. Ensure your pipeline is well balanced with the last two types. To meet your targets and your company their targets, every salesperson in the organization needs growth from both. Once your pipeline is off balance you decrease your chances of meeting your sales targets. You need both.

  1. Unbalanced B2C and B2B

E-commerce has accelerated beyond everyone’s imagination. Pipelines have shifted more towards e-commerce opportunities. Although this is logical, there is also a risk. In general, B2C is less profitable than B2B. So to meet company targets you need a lot more B2C which puts stress on your pipeline (management) and your company’s operation. Not focusing enough on B2B opportunities also means you leave the door open for your competitors. Balance the two is a wiser strategy.

Discuss your pipeline decisions with your manager at your next coaching session. Your pipeline may look smaller now but for the right reasons. You know where you are really are now. Most likely you feel the need for prospecting now to fill your pipeline to required company standards. Make sure they contribute to a strong pipeline.

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