In sales we are constantly driven by performance and making our numbers. Unfortunately, this can lead to hoarding leads and over packing our pipeline with potential opportunities–disadvantaging our real opportunities and overall sales pipeline performance.
Here are a few of the techniques I use to pack a tight and productive pipeline:
- Keep it clean
- Keep it tight
- Give every note/lead a next step
- Put a memorable reference in every note
- Give every call an objective
- Look for leading indicators
- Optimize your call back periods
- Build a rhythm
- Throw out your dialer
- Pick up the phone
To me, a clean pipeline means one that is well attended and accurately documented. Develop a methodology for annotating key actions or tagging each lead as you work it. These annotations function as milestones and statuses that segment your prospects. This segmentation becomes key to observing and acting on leading indicators to convert more prospects into sales.
Kill the temptation to hoard stubborn prospects. Cut 10% of your leads each day from your pipeline. I suggest withdrawing them from the active pipeline and feeding them back in systematically in about 30 days for a courteous follow-up. Which do you cut? Analyzing your actions or tag data should over time tell you at what point a lead begins to become unproductive, but here are a couple of starter suggestions for Internet leads: leads over 15 days from inquiry, leads attempted and not contacted more than 5 times, leads contacted and not applied more than 5 times.
Most of us are managing a pipeline of 100-150 prospects. Unless you are superhuman, or already have a good action/status methodology, it is impossible to know were you are and more importantly where you are going on any one lead. Quick fix: add it to every note. Where am I going on the next call? This becomes your mini-tactical sales plan. Place the answer to the question on every action, even if you don’t make contact.
This little trick will turn high volume sales into high volume relationships. Did Susan say she needed to hop of the call because she need to run Bobby to his baseball game? Note it. And on the next call ask Susan how Bobby’s game was. These are the little touches that make customers.
Before you dial know what you want the result to be. And don’t make it so broad as close the deal. Maybe, it should be something like when does their ARM reset? Do they have a steady, documentable income stream? Get to a credit pull.
This is where your action/status methodology becomes critical to seeing patterns that indicate pending conversion. Use time, frequency, and status to triangulate successful sales patterns. Turn those patterns into best practices and leading indicators for projections and sales techniques.
Call back periods are another key link to your action methods and leading indicators. Set your call backs to trigger off of your leading indicators to ensure each call is advancing the prospect forward into a sale.
Create a sales day or habits that have rhythm. Good runners have rhythm and can generally set their watch by their pace. It is not full of surges, but rather a steady cadence. Set your sales day like that: start early, review the market, review your product matrices, envision the top 5 borrower scenarios you will encounter today, build those presentations, get your scenarios and calculator at the ready, clear your desk, start dialing, keep a separate running sheet of objectives, pause at lunch time for adjustments to your scenarios and strategies based on the objections you heard, close the day strong.
Dialers are for robotic, cold calling, fishing expeditions or surveys. Dialers frustrate prospects and your sales numbers. Enough said.
This is number 10 because it is the most important. Get started! You have to pick-up the phone and make the call. Overcome the fear to engage.
If you set a rhythm, tighten, action, and call your pipeline–it will produce more for you!