You may have heard of the Maslow Hierarchy which shows how our needs as humans develop as we become more established and comfortable. In the middle of the said hierarchy, just above food and shelter, sits security which most of us see as key to our lives. We can spend some time arguing about whether we can ever truly be secure, but I wanted to discuss one of the key elements of your business security: your pipeline.
Regardless as to whether you run your own business or the sales team within a bigger company, developing your pipeline is key to both your security and growth:
- Without a pipeline, you will struggle to forecast the future of your sales which affects all major business decisions
- Pipeline development helps you tackle your growth strategy, from immediate to further opportunities, existing and new markets
Despite its importance, many of us treat our pipeline development rather carelessly, leaving most of it to faith. Typical approaches include:
- Relying solely on repeat business and referrals
- Frantically looking for leads only when levels of sales have reduced dramatically
- Running a variety of lead generation tactics without focus or strategy
- Trying to convert any business that comes your way
This approach will either leave you with a small pipeline covering only immediate opportunities or a very large one full of long-term possibilities and pies in the sky. If you wanted to truly use your pipeline as a tool for growth and development, you need to have one which includes long term suspects which are being nurtured and developed into mature prospects, which will turn into customers. To achieve this, you will need to establish three things:
- Have a good understanding of your target markets
- Create continuous, relevant communications to create interest
- Follow up with your suspects and prospects continuously
Follow this, and you will end up with a funnel shaped pipeline like this one which is aimed at creating new opportunities in your desired markets and developing them into sales. You may already be doing this or a part of this but now is a good time to review your process and ask yourself if you and your team are getting it right. Economic uncertainty, like that which we are currently facing, can change market conditions, meaning you end up with less repeat business and referrals so make sure you are developing a strong pipeline to tackle it.
As always, we are happy to help and discuss your individual circumstances so get in touch.