Many Americans with jobs are living paycheck to paycheck while many entrepreneurs with small businesses are living month to month. One of the keys to breaking that cycle in business is to create a sales pipeline. Not only should your business have plans to generate revenue this month but what about next month, the month after that, next year?
I often find business owners who have an overall marketing and/or business plan but they have failed to break it down and assign tasks for each month nor do they have any idea who they will contact in future months to do business with them. There are many factors that need to be considered because most businesses will find that they have peak and low months yet not analyzing this data will cause you to run discount promotions during your peak months when people would buy your services anyway or to spend less marketing dollars during low months when you need to be spreading the word.
Your May business project is to begin creating a sales pipeline for the next twelve months. These strategies should help you to get started…
- Sort your leads. What are leads? They are the people/businesses that could buy your product/service. They should be sorted into hot (ready to make a purchase), warm (considering making a purchase but need more information) and cold (not interested in making a purchase but could do business in the future). There many systems available to assist you with managing your leads or you can create an excel spreadsheet.
- Create a sales process for each category of leads. If someone is ready to make a purchase, what do you do? I have seen some people who wait a week to contact a hot lead. Bad idea! If they are ready to make a purchase, contact them today by phone or in person. Don’t take the passive approach which could prolong the process and possibly cause you to lose the business. What about the warm leads? You should have a follow-up process that provides them with the necessary information to make an informed decision. As for the cold leads, you should create a process that allows you maintain contact with them so that in the future when they are ready to do business with you, they know where to find you.
- Ask for the business. Many of us fear rejection therefore we are afraid to ask for business. We are afraid to ask people for their money. You have to let go of that fear. Most successful business owners are not afraid to ask people if they want to do business with them. Obviously, you want to be sure that you have something that they want but once that has been established be prepared to move forward. Have everything that you need handy to close the deal.
- Heat up your warm leads. Warm your cold leads. You should have, as described in #2, a process for each category of your leads. Many times we neglect those persons who are not ready to do business with us… right now. We often put them on the back burner and forget about them. Well, you need a plan to turn the stove on and warm them up. With your warm leads, it could be a phone call, scheduling a meeting or providing a discount/promotion. Ask your cold leads if you can add then to your email list so that you stay in regular contact and set reminders to follow-up periodically.
- Follow up. If someone says, “Call me back in July because I am really busy this month.” Set a reminder to follow-up in July. Many business opportunities are missed because of a lack of follow-up. This is how you create your pipeline. You want to have calls planned for the six months. Yes, we want to grab the low hanging fruit, those who want to do business with us today but we also want to have some fruit on the vine for the future.
Having a sales pipeline is essential to the success of your business. These tips barely scratched the surface but if you are interested in more information; contact me to schedule a complimentary one-hour consultation. I’m accepting appointments for the next year 😉