How to Keep Your Sales Pipeline Flowing
By Amy Lou Blunt, Chief Credit Officer
Our business bankers have built and continue to maintain a prospect pipeline with significant depth and breadth that truly enhances their business development efforts. How do they do this, and how can their success and experience help you develop the same for your business?
It doesn’t happen accidentally; it is a result of deliberate and consistent efforts that begin with:
- An understanding of what you have to offer and can deliver,
- Knowing where you shine and can make a tangible contribution and,
- Seeking out those companies that are the best fit.
4 TIPS TO BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL PIPELINE
- Build credibility with every point of contact. Offering expanded services for existing clients, identifying key similarities between our most successful clients and prospective ones and staying in touch with prior clients are all components in identifying new opportunities. Every point of contact affords the chance to add value and build credibility.
- Preparation is essential. The internet offers many means to gather data. Not only can a great deal of information be gleaned from the company website, a mutual business partner or affiliation can also be an essential resource. A call that wastes time communicates disrespect for your client, as well as a lack of focus.
- Stop talking and listen. As much as you think you know or have learned, you must be prepared to listen. No one knows more about their company than the business owner. And, don’t forget to follow up, regularly and with purpose.
- Be genuine. In the end, and at the core of everything you say and do, you must be genuine and sincere. Without that as a foundation to build mutual trust, no business venture will sustainably grow and prosper.
KEEP YOUR PIPELINE CLEAN
Periodically review and remove stale prospects so you’re not wasting time and resources on chasing cold leads. It can be tempting to leave as many opportunities in your pipeline as possible. However, this approach doesn’t help you close more sales, and it also skews the accuracy of your sales forecast.
Follow these steps to keep your pipeline healthy:
- Identify prospects who have spent a longer than average time in your sales cycle.
- Send them an email with a straightforward option to respond if they are still interested or to ignore them if they are not.
- Move prospects around the pipeline based on their answers. For example, you might move a lead from the nurturing and negotiation stage back to the sales optimization stage if they require more information.
- Remove cold leads from the sales pipeline or move them to another category where they can be included in future communications and campaigns.
The first sales pipeline you build may not be perfect in terms of results and efficiency. But the good news is, it can be enhanced over time and become a great sales tool for you and your business.