Most new appointments are not set on the first call attempt. It often takes six or seven attempts to even get your foot in the door.
The key to a successful selling process comes with establishing a pattern of pipeline building and follow-up, and the best reps master the art of managing their leads through a CRM.
Many reps will tell you that they're organized and that they have "their own" system, but look at their work space and you’ll find that they have paper lists and sticky notes spread across their desk. You're laughing because you know exactly who I'm talking about.
Even worse, there are those with a database, filled with leads, but they have no strategy. They think to themselves, "Hmm, today I’m calling all my no-contacts, or my shoppers, or maybe my past appointments." Day after day, they spend hours calling and sorting through lead statuses hoping to find the needle in the haystack.
How It Begins
How many times do you see a new teammate come in and find quick early wins in the first three to six months, and then suddenly fall off the map in discouragement? All too often, it's misdiagnosed as "the honeymoon period is over," or "the excitement of the new job has worn off."
The manager starts asking about activity, "How many calls have you made today?" …and the sales person responds, "I’ve been blitzing all day. I've made 40, 60, 80 calls."
Although blitzing off lists feels productive, it’s an illusion. I equate it to jumping in your car and looking for new opportunities by driving around the same city block over and over again. It's a recipe for short-term success.
So how do you build a strong pipeline?
Get Off the Roller Coaster
Most sales people struggle with time management. It becomes especially difficult when you get on a roll and you are closing a lot of deals back-to-back-to-back. It's one of the most important periods in a sales pipeline management “cycle.”
Typical pipelines build up like a roller coaster ascending to the peak, and then bam, the deals start rolling in fast and furious. You're doing everything in your power just to keep up. It is exhilarating, until you realize the ride has run its course, and you have to start rebuilding again.
Great pipelines are always full. Make time for new business development and keep up with your daily scheduled CRM tasks. Even when you're on a roll, a little prospecting block ensures the continued sucess of your selling process.
New Business Requires New Prospects
Building a strong pipeline requires adding new prospects to your CRM every day. Although each sales job is different, I'll share some numbers to provide an example.
Reps selling to small and medium sized businesses might build a database of between 150 and 300 new contacts per year. Work to have a minimum of 20 to 40 daily scheduled actions in your CRM, and 10 to 15 opportunities projected over the next 90 day period.
If you don’t have enough in the pipeline, you know it’s time to start prospecting. Grow your database with one goal in mind: “I’m looking for new decision makers to add to my pipeline.” Within a few weeks of following this disciplined approach, you’ll have a pipeline that is overflowing with opportunities.
Always remember, your pipeline determines your success. The next time you self-evaluate, ask yourself three questions. How strong is my pipeline? How many prospects do I have in my database? How many "meaningful" daily scheduled actions do I have in my CRM?