Is Your Pipeline Worth a Gold Medal?

It was an exciting two weeks with the Olympic games in full swing…the pure drama of watching exceptional athletes put all their effort into winning bronze, silver or gold medals. There was heartache and celebration, along with a tremendous amount of pride. Even if the athletes did not win a medal, they accomplished the ultimate goal – representing their respective countries in the prestigious Olympic games!

In light of the games, I have a question for you: Is your pipeline worth a gold medal for you and your company? Are you standing behind your pipeline stating yours is the best it can be, and that what you have in your pipeline now will allow you to accomplish your goals? That is the gold medal in sales! Making sure your pipeline will deliver your goals at the end of your sales cycle.

How do you know you can achieve gold? By making sure you are keeping an ACTIVE pipeline at all times. Many of us in sales have some system we have adopted or been given in order to monitor our sales activity. This could be Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, or an internal system. No matter what you use, or how many buckets you can put your opportunities/prospects into, we have to make sure we are keeping our pipeline filled with a constant flow of opportunities/prospects working through the process during your normal sales cycle. This could be Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, and industry-specific system, or an internal system. So here are some tips to help you achieve your gold medal!

1. Be realistic!
For every opportunity/prospect you have in your ACTIVE pipeline, you should have a “next step” associated with it. This is a date and time to get together on the phone, or face-to-face, in order to move the sale forward. Without this small component, your pipeline becomes inactive and things start to sit too long. Why? Because you lost control of the sale. Remember: You do not get paid on “HOPIUM.” You get paid on what comes in!

2. Timing is key!
You have all heard the phrase Time KILLS deals. The longer it is out of your normal sales cycle the less likely it will happen. Make sure when you are working with an opportunity/prospect that you are very conscious about the time it is taking from the first appointment to when it closes. It does not matter whether you have a 2-year sales cycle or a 2-hour sales cycle. If an opportunity/prospect has been in your pipeline for too long you are creating an inactive pipeline.

3. Keep a sense of urgency with the opportunity/prospect!
The amount of touch points you have with an opportunity/ prospect helps you develop a long-term relationship. At the same time, it can keep your sale top of mind. Make sure when you are in your selling process you think of ways to get back to your opportunity/prospect other than just presenting a proposal. What are things you can do to keep you as an active interest to the opportunity/prospect that can provide added value to the sale or relationship? Don’t let more than 2 to 3 weeks go by without some type of touch point.

4. Keep a consistent number of first appointments at all times!
This area is probably the hardest to keep consistent but is the most critical when keeping an ACTIVE pipeline. Each of you will have a number that works for you. I know for myself I have to have between 6 to 8 first appointments scheduled within the next 1 to 3 weeks in order to make my gold! What is the number you need to keep? If you know your sales ratios you can actually figure out how many first appointments you need to keep the flow moving. It is when the number of first appointments dry up is when we all fall into the danger zone of having an inactive pipeline.

5. Be your own worst critic!
Look at your pipeline each week and pick three opportunities/ prospects that have the best chance of either moving forward or closing for that particular week. Decide why they are your best candidates, what you want to happen at your next meeting or discussion, and if there are any roadblocks that would prevent you from achieving your goal. If there are, be prepared. Each week pick three new opportunities/prospects without repeating the same opportunities/prospects. This will force you to have an ACTIVE pipeline to help you gain the gold.

Follow these tips and see how your hard work, due diligence, struggles and sacrifices will produce the winning combination for you to achieve your GOLD!!!