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Your Sales Pipeline


Some call it a funnel and some call it a pipeline. Either way I’m talking about putting potential customers in one end with the hope they will come out the other side as a sale.

Selling is not a perfect business. There is emotion, fear, desire, and need involved. People buy for many different reasons. It would be nice if we could just walk up to a customer, show them our product and they write a check. Does it happen? Sure! Just not very often!

Instead of looking at sales as a one time thing, we need to look at selling as a process. Similar to how a farmer sows seeds into a field, you need to sow an interest in your products into your customers. Not every seed will sprout, just like some of your customers won’t be interested in what you sell. That’s why farmers sow so many seeds, they expect a percentage to fail.

Every time you show your products to a potential customer, they start to travel down your sales pipeline. Some slide right through and buy right away, some won’t even consider going in the pipe and others meander down the pipe as they make their decision.

It often takes time for your customer to get to the end of your pipe. It could take days, it could take weeks. It doesn’t matter! The point is to keep the pipeline full.

So how can you feed the people in your pipeline so they don’t turn and walk out the way they came in? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Thank you cards. When someone shows interest in one of your products, but doesn’t buy, send them a nice thank you card for considering what you’re selling and let them know you will follow up at a later date, or offer a buying incentive. (so much off, free case, something like that)

2. If it’s a trusted customer, offer to leave the product with them to test for a few days. This is called the “Puppy Dog Close”. Once you get it in their hand and they get used to using it, they’ll want to keep it.

3. Be sure to mention the product each time you see the customer. This is not being pushy. This simply gives them another opportunity to buy. Remember! We live in a busy world. We all need reminders from time-to-time.

Since I specialize in training sharpeners, while on the road, I take some time and ride with a few of my students when I can. Almost all the shear sales I see them make are not impulse buys, but the result of sowing interest in the shear over time.

How do you keep guiding customers into your pipeline? Well for starters, be sure your customers know you sell shears and/or other products. Then be sure you have some to show! You can’t sell from an empty wagon and people like to touch and feel before they buy. Give them something to touch and feel!

One thing is certain, your customers will buy what you’re selling from somebody. If you take the time to show them what you have, and remind them of it, they will eventually buy from you!

Image: saleslogistix.com/services/Pipeline – SalesLogistix is a consultancy focused on implementing the most complete and usable SFA / CRM systems. They provide advisory and services for any SFA system, implement / extend Salesforce.com, develop custom Salesforce applications, and sell add-on products for Salesforce.com users.

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It never ceases to amaze me how foolish people can be. I’ve been involved in a group in my home town called The Business Fellowship for some time now and we had a really great speaker scheduled for this last meeting, so I decided to invite a few friends; three in fact. One immediately said yes, one couldn’t make it because he had to go out of town, but one responded to my e-mail with this reply:

“I’ll pass. I already have more work than I can or want to do.”

I spent the rest of my day shaking my head over that one! Now understand, this fellow is a contract employee in a very stable industry and really does have all the work he could want or need. But my question is, what is he doing to build his professional network in case he ever finds himself looking for another company to work with? Networking is not always about finding more work. There are many reasons to network. Let’s look at some of the reasons Jeff Taylor talks about in his book, Monster Careers: Networking.

Networking Separates You from the Pack
If you had two applications in front of you and both were from people that are new to the work force, but equally qualified; which would you look at more closely? An applicant that is well networked (student counsel, volunteer, school newspaper, toastmasters) or one that isn’t?

Networking Catches You When You Fall
If you are laid-off or your company goes under, wouldn’t it be nice to have a solid group of contacts that can help you land that next job? If you’re self-employed, this same group can lead you to your next client.

Networking Opens Up New Possibilities
Sometimes you’ll run across clients you never thought to call on, or a career you never thought to pursue.

Networking Makes You More Valuable to Your Company
Power people network! How many potential colleagues could you meet while networking? Lots!

Many people think networking is just for entrepreneurs or salesmen, but the reality is everyone should be networking. Don’t be like my friend who was so fast to say no. Consider all opportunities to meet people and build relationships. This group may not have been a good fit for him, but he’ll never know. Here’s hoping all that business never dries up! 🙂

Reference: Monster Careers: Networking, Chapter 1, Pages 5 – 6

Image: successfromthenest.com

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