If you’re starting up a business, whatever the nature of your business, your field, your product or your USP there’s a good chance that your business is not just dependent on sales it’s the lifeblood of your enterprise, pumping liquidity (cash) through the vital organs (or operations) on your business.
Don’t like that analogy?
If you’re squeamish, you may prefer to look at your business as a functioning water treatment works (notice how I didn’t say sewerage system?) and it’s important to make your your pipeline is healthy. Obviously I’m not talking about the kind of plumbing available at Varner Pipe, you don’t need to go round your premises checking every square foot of your pipes. Instead you need to consider your sales pipeline, ascertain where there might be any potential leaks and know how to patch them up if you do find any.
Knowing the pipeline
Think of your leads and prospects as untreated water. Without water, a pipeline has no function, but we need to filter and funnel this water so that it’s of good quality. We need to funnel the untreated water into sparkling drinking water by using a system of filters to qualify the leads and prime them for conversion (which is why the process is also referred to as a sales funnel).
Let’s break down the different sections of the pipeline:
- Awareness- This is the gathering of incoming leads through marketing campaigns such as viral internet campaigns, email shoots, flyer campaigns etc. Think of this as collecting the water from the sea or a river into your system.
- Qualification- This is your filtration system. Qualifying your prospects using lead scoring is vital in acting fast on genuine prospects and converting them before they have the opportunity or inclination to take their business elsewhere.
- Conversion- This is the final filter, at this point we should know enough about the prospect and they should know enough about our product for them to be converted into happy customers. Our pipeline doesn’t spit them out at this point, however, it recycles them.
- Retention- Using a CRM platform will help you to retain converted prospects and keep them coming back again and again. Every time they get filtered through the system they should be a little more in love with us and our products.
So, there you have it. Those are the workings of a healthy sales pipeline. Now let’s see if we can spot and identify any leaks…
Causes of prospect loss or low conversion rate
Your conversion rates need to be monitored regularly as any plumber will tell you that a leak will only get worse the longer you leave it. If you notice any of these then you should act as soon as possible.
- Not enough prospects- This should be patched up with regular meetings with your marketing team, evaluating the effectiveness of different campaigns.
- Lack of compelling need- A compelling lead is key to prospect conversion. Your sales force need to identify what this is for each customer and you need to give them autonomy to grant this need where you can.
- Lack of value in your sales- Everyone likes to feel that they’ve got a great deal, so your sales teams need to build value into their sales. It can be anything from a coupon off their next purchase to a bottle of champagne.