It’s not just at the end of year or quarter that focus falls on the sales pipeline – is there enough in there to hit target? Many businesses still rely on hope and luck to make their number and deals have no correlation to what the sales people put into their pipeline. The forecast is no better, salespeople will make sure it there or thereabouts, with what their manager has told them they need to do.
A big problem is you build up a nice healthy sales pipeline, then you work on closing the deals to make quota. Whilst you focus on contracts, your pipeline shrinks – so you then have to focus on building it up again – making no time for closing business. So, you have a bad month or quarter and the cycle starts again.
In one of the dips, sales and marketing heads will have a panic and probably kick off a lead generation initiative. This normally entails focussing, and spending money, on techniques that either should’ve been left back in the 1990’s, or, hoping Digital Marketing will be their saviour. Alternatively, the sales team will be told they need to focus on their own prospecting – with cold calling, cold emailing, events and other pointless activities to waste their time.
Before you have a conniption as I dismiss many activities you have probably instructed you teams to do, bear with me whilst I explain why businesses are wasting their time and money on how they prospect.
Imagine your business is a shop – it can be as large or small as you like, with a grand entrance and eye-catching window displays to each side. Inside the store, all your products, services and solutions are beautifully displayed.
Now let’s look at the ways you are probably prospecting;
- Cold calling, cold emailing or any other intrusive outbound method to drum up business.
Imagine you instruct all your stores sales staff to walk around the streets, not local ones, but in another town and entice, persuade or force members of the public to accompany you back to the shop – regardless of what they had been planning to do.
2. Digital Marketing
Just inside the entrance to your shop you get your fastest salespeople, lined up in wait. As soon as anyone walks past your store, regardless if they even bother to look into your window, your staff pounce and drag them in. They are a marketing qualified lead, a ‘hot prospect’ – they must be – they made the effort to walk past your shop.
Or we could try this:
3. Social selling
All your shop staff, yes all, not just the sales people, help promote the store. They dress the window, they tell all their friends about how great it is. They speak to lots of people about life, retail and they share their stories and experiences. Whilst doing this, they don’t bang on about how great your store is or, that you think you have the best products on earth. This earns them trust from the public who in turn may take the odd detour to walk past your shop. Maybe the second time they look to see what you have in the window.
Then, without being forced, your ‘prospect’ will walk into your shop and be genuinely interested in what you have to sell.
Who wouldn’t want to prospect like that – getting regular inbound?
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