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The Basics of Pipeline Management

Agencies and other organizations that depend on sales have sales pipelines. If you are a fly on the wall at these companies, you’ll hear things like this:

“What do you have in the pipeline, Joe?”

“We need more quality prospects in our pipeline.”

“We’ve got so much in our pipeline every month, but we’re still not hitting our numbers.”

In fact, millions of us treat the pipeline as if it’s real, but the fact is, it isn’t. “Pipeline” is actually a made-up term (albeit a very useful tool) that relates to the accumulation of prospects before they are either sold one or more of your products (therefore becoming clients), buying from your competitor (and falling out of the pipeline), or are removed by you for one reason or another.

The power of the pipeline is found in breaking it down into five parts:

  1. Targeting ideal prospects (pre-pipeline, actually)
  2. Adding prospects to the pipeline
  3. Increasing the probability that a prospect will become a client
  4. Converting of a prospect into a client (closing)
  5. Post-mortem (post-pipeline)

Of these, number 3 and 4 are the most interesting, but numbers 1, 2, and 5 are also quite important.

Let me start with #1, targeting ideal prospects, because it forms the basis of your prospecting efforts. I have two recommendations for you.

  1. Know who an ideal client is for you. You likely have a sweet spot in terms of the advantages you have over other firms. You really love working with some types (or company sizes) of clients. Take note of that. If you can’t stand office politics, you may not want to target large firms. If you don’t have a good track record with creative firms, by all means ignore ad agencies, marketing companies and web design firms. That’s up to you. Make it specific by writing it down with as much detail as possible…something like, “Our ideal client has between 25 and 100 employees, is preferably in the manufacturing industry, and is within a 50-mile radius.”
  2. Next, assemble your entire sales team for an hour and make a list (or take a large list and rank it) based on your ideal client definition, above. Make the list as large as you can, and only eliminate those companies who don’t fit your profile well or who are having major financial difficulties. Note: Keep companies on this list who have been purchasing policies from a competitor for as long as you can remember. Those are challenges that you may be able to overcome (more in later posts!).

Notice that these don’t create prospects…yet. They’re what many call “suspects.”

Have a great week, and go out and crush your competition!

Randy

Read more at http://thewedge.net/

Randy Schwantz
Other articles by: Randy Schwantz
Categories: Insurance Sales Techniques
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