5 Keys to Building a Sales Pipeline
by David Bilby
5 Keys to Building a Sales Pipeline
The first part of my sales career was the most confusing and frustrating I had ever been in my life. I struggle still today. Spending hours and hours sitting at my computer waiting for new leads to come in through an antiquated website. Whining about not having any sales appointments to go to. Wondering why the marketing department was not helping me with sales literature. I spent lots of time hanging out with people, but nothing seemed to translate to business. Excuses abound. What I needed to do was to build a sales pipeline.
Since then I have changed the way I approach the issue of my sales pipeline. And trust me this is exactly what I have to do right now! After the holidays and all the snow we have had in the area, my pipeline is dry. I am in the business of listening to the troubles the internet is causing local businesses and providing a way to ease the technological pains. In many ways, I perform the same type of tasks a doctor would perform. Where does it hurt, I can fix it. My pipeline needs to be full of people who are experiencing pain from their website, their online store, their merchant account, their backend database, and the list goes on.
Here are few ways I increasing my sales pipeline ( and you can too ).
Key #1: Activities that do not lead to leads are death.
You can build your strategic plans and clean your office as much as you want, but it isn’t going to result in sales. Actionable plans are necessary unless you don’t do them.
Brian Tracy says it this way. He says to repeat the phrase, “I am responsible”. “I am responsible”. Responsible for everything coming my way. Even for my lack of sales pipeline. Responsible for the failed sale. I am responsible for my fat paycheck. What a freeing thought. No more excuses. No more blaming.
If I were to look back in my career 15 years ago, I would change everything. I would be more active in building relationships. I would spend more time serving others and increasing my network.
Key #2: Relationships are more important than sales.
How can that be? Isn’t this a sales blog post? It is and I’m telling you after over a decade and a half of sales, I have focused so much on sales that I have neglected the thing that results in sales…. Relationships.
So where is that you are able to meet people and distinguish yourself as an expert in your field? Is it a leads meeting? Do you go door-to-door? Do you spend time on Linkedin? Trade shows? Wherever it is, remember you are there first to serve, then to sell. I would submit to you that when you spend more time listening and serving rather than selling, you will build a bigger pipeline. Build your pipeline by getting to know people and encouraging them in their work.
Send an encouraging card after you meet someone. No one does this anymore. Those who do will be noticeable and approachable. So listen and encourage, I promise those actions will not return void.
Key #3: Keep moving regardless of how you feel
Especially in the dark days of winter, it is imperative for all of us sales types to keep going regardless of how we feel. It’s true, our emotions can get in the way of building a successful pipeline full of potential business. We all know it. Someone asked me lately, how is your self-talk? I had to be honest and say that my self-talk has been destroying me lately. Without even realizing it, I was killing myself from the inside out.
Key #4: Evaluate, don’t be critical
For the most part, I am a pretty positive person. Ask anyone around me. My critical nature is internal. Eventually, that critical part of myself does come out. I usually mask the negative nature of the word ‘critical’ with the word ‘evaluation’.
It is difficult to take a step back and look at yourself with an honest point of view. Others see things we don’t see. If you are seeing more negative than positive, you may want to reach out to your friends for some positive. Look at the good and bad, not just one or the other.
I have a friend who runs a small local business and seems they can’t ever get ahead. He has the opposite problem. His glass is so full and even overflowing, that he cannot see those things he should change or adjust. What can you change today to bring about positive results in the future?
We all know that repetition creates habits. Yet, we seldom harness the power of the habit for our use. We can wield the power of the habit by taking control of our own actions.
Key #5: Persistence always wins
This goes without saying. Persistence always results in success. The more people I meet, the more opportunity being added to my pipeline. Keep going regardless of how you feel.
We, as sales professionals, all know these truths. For some reason, I needed a reminder of them today. Comment if you would like to add some other ways you add to your pipeline.
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