Doyle Slayton is presenting a session on 8 Steps for Building Your Sales Pipeline at the May 8th session of the Sales Stimulus program. Click here to learn more about this event.
Most sales are not made on the first call. Often it takes six or seven attempts to even get your foot in the door. The key to sales success is in the follow-up!
The best sales professionals master the art of managing their leads through a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Many sales reps will tell you that they are 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 all across their desk! You are laughing because you know exactly who I'm talking about.
Even worse, there are those who have a database, filled with leads, and 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 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, and it is misdiagnosed as "the honeymoon period is over," or "the excitement of the new job has worn off."
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. Do you see what I mean by short-term success?
Now, I’m not saying that you should never blitz your lead base. There are three instances where you should engage in blitzing strategies.
- When you are playing "short-term" catch-up on those rare occasions where you’ve fallen behind on your scheduled actions:
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. This is one of the most important periods in a sales pipeline management “cycle.”
Good pipelines often build up like a rollercoaster ascending to a peak and then bam the deals start rolling in fast and furious and you are 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. The best way to keep your pipeline overflowing is to ensure you keep up with your daily scheduled actions. Always make time for short-term catch-up… even when you are on a roll… a little blitz block can get you back on track.
- When your daily scheduled actions list is so small, that you are trying to build a future pipeline:
Too often you hear reps say that they are not getting enough leads, or they complain about having a bad territory.
In most cases, the reality is a weak pipeline. Some sales reps are lucky to have a corporate strategy that generates warm leads. In this scenario, each rep has new leads assigned to them on a daily or weekly basis… but, most sales reps have to generate their own leads.
In either case, the key to successful pipeline building comes in the process of adding new leads to your CRM every single day. Although each sales job is different, a solid goal example would be to build your database up between 150 and 300 new prospects per year. This size lead base would allow you to have a minimum of 20 daily scheduled actions in your CRM.
If you don’t have that many scheduled follow-up calls in your pipeline, you know it’s time to start blitzing. Always blitz with one goal in mind… “I’m looking for new leads to add to my pipeline.” Rookies who are building their pipeline from scratch should be shooting for seven to ten new leads to add to their CRM everyday. Veterans who have an established database should strive to add at least three to five new leads to their database each day. Within a few months of following this disciplined approach, you’ll have a pipeline that is overflowing with opportunity!
- When your sales team is blitzing as a team activity or competition for the day:
Sometimes management will see a lull in activity and turn to blitzing as a means of getting a team moving again. Managers will try to create some excitement and spin it as a fun business building activity… while most of the reps are thinking, “Oh my… here we go again… I hate these.”
Superstars who live by the two previously mentioned techniques will rarely get excited about team blitzing because high activity levels are already a part of their daily routine. Maintaining perspective is very important in this instance. Be a leader and do what is best for the team. Lead by example, be a team player, and be a catalyst for success!
Always remember, your pipeline determines your success. The next time you self-evaluate, ask yourself three questions: How strong is my pipeline? How many leads do I have in my database? How many daily scheduled actions do I have in my CRM?
Look for me on May 8th as I share 8 Steps for Building Your Sales Pipeline. See you there!
Doyle Slayton is an internationally recognized sales and leadership strategist, speaker, and blogger. He is the founder of SalesBlogcast, where sales professionals share best-practices and get better! His blog and LinkedIn Group rank among the best in the world! Doyle's popular writings include "Four Disciplines of Extraordinary Leaders," '10 Things I Love About Cold Calling," "Trust and Credibility," "Social Web Your Career to the Next Level" and many more!