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3 Foolproof Strategies for a Full Pipeline

It’s no secret that a sustainable pipeline is the key to both meeting short-term sales goals and ensuring long-term success. But how can you be sure that you have enough working deals in that pipeline to achieve these objectives?

1)  Identify the Probability of Success

Which leads should you invest your time in? Every sales opportunity you have is likely to be 5- to 6-step process and, in any given moment, you’ll have prospects in various stages of closure. But here’s the important variable: Each step is associated with a different probability of closure.

Here is a simple forecasting model:

  • Lead Generation: 0%
  • Contact: 0%
  • Qualification: 10%
  • Meeting: 30%
  • Proposal: 60%
  • Closure: 100%

 

How long should your pipeline be?  Well, the longer, the better, of course!

But a specific answer to that question can depend on variables such as price-points and average close cycle for your products and, of course, your sales goals.

Many sales experts recommend maintaining a pipeline of active sales opportunities that equals 4 times your sales goal. In other words, even if you lose 2 out of 3 deals, or 3 out of 4 deals, you’ll still make quota. To get a handle on the value of your pipeline on any given day, at each target phase of the sales process, try this simple formula:

probability of closure % x number of sales opportunities = £ value at target phase

 

Here’s an example:

Let’s say that your sales goal is £10,000 and each sales opportunity has an average potential value of £2000. Here are the weighted values of your leads at each target phase:

  • Lead Generation: 0 % x 30 opportunities = £0
  • Contact: 0 % x 30 opportunities = £0
  • Qualification: 10 % x 15 opportunities = £3,000
  • Meeting: 30 % x 10 opportunities = £6,000
  • Proposal: 60 % x 5 opportunities = £6,000
  • Closure : 100 % x 3 opportunities = £6,000

 

So the total weighted value of your sales pipeline is £21,000. But wait… your sales goal was £10,000, right?

This means that your opportunity-to-goal ratio is only 2 to 1. It needs to be at least 3 to 1, or ideally, 4 to 1.

To increase the odds of meeting your sales goal:

  • Push your dormant leads toward a higher probability of closure;
  • Generate new leads.

 

2)  Convert Dormant Leads to Closed Sales

 

Got too many dormant leads? Here are some tips for pushing dormant deals through the pipeline to closure:

  • Ask the scary questions! See this article for more: XXXX
  • Open a different channel of communication – eg LinkedIn. This breaks the “ground-hog day” contact cycle (eg the same type of voicemail)
  • Try a different contact; make sure you’re dealing with a decision-maker
  • Work a different angle, add fresh insight to your pitch
  • Engage your contact’s influencers (again, LinkedIn can be handy here)
  • Participate in industry and customer communities, both virtual and in-person. Join the conversation on blogs and forums. Be on the lookout for buying signals from prospects. (Check out this blog for buying signals). XXXXXXXXXX

 

If none of these strategies moves a prospect closer to closure, move on to the next sales opportunity. Don’t chase your losses, regardless of how much time you’ve invested in that prospect.

Focus on maximizing gain rather than avoiding loss.

 

3)  Generate New Leads — Fill the Pipeline for Tomorrow

Keeping your pipeline filled may require some aggressive prospecting at times. First, do your homework. Make preliminary informational phone calls to identify decision-makers. Talk to business associates who may be privy to emerging conditions within a particular prospect company.

Research prospects through their company websites, LinkedIn and other resources.  Don’t forget your existing network of suppliers – you are already giving them money, so they can be a great source of new leads. But before you pick up the phone to start cold calling, here are 3 quick strategies to try:

  • Touch base with past customers. They bought from you (find out why!), they probably like you, and even if they don’t you can turn conflict into opportunity.
  • Develop strategies for up-selling current customers
  • Invest some time in building a network of referral partners

 

As you close sales, lose prospects, and generate new leads, always keep an eye on your pipeline. It is — and should be — an ever-changing dynamic.

For more help on pipeline, check out our latest article XXXX or call us on 0207 043 1582 for a free consultation.

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