It’s not uncommon to lose focus on your pipeline – or funnel – and consistently filling it with new opportunities can be challenging. Sellers often spend too much time on a few opportunities that are on the verge of closing at the bottom of the funnel, and don’t seek out new leads to fill the funnel. This creates a roller coaster ride in terms of performance and results in the eyes of a sales manager, and commissions in the pockets of a rep. Without enough opportunities, a rep runs the risk of missing their quota and their commissions.
The key rule for determining if you have enough opportunity to achieve your quota is to measure the size of your pipeline. Successful sales reps maintain a minimum of 3 times their quota in their pipeline at all times. For example, a $100,000 per month sales quota should mean you maintain a pipeline value of $300,000 per month.
Combined with a disciplined sales process and consistent prospecting, a pipeline 3 times your quota will ensure a continuous flow of new leads and new opportunities closing.
So how do successful sellers do it? Follows are responses based on a recent question I posed to top sales reps and managers regarding how they maintain a healthy pipeline.
Disciplined Sales process
Focus on the follow-up process. Most sales reps make the initial contact and close the easy deals. What distinguishes the top reps from the rest are those who follow-up when the appointment isn't immediate.
I think an open mind in the sales process is key – really listening to the customer and their struggles and customizing a solution for them based on their needs.
Don’t lose site of the smaller sales. The problem with reps today is they lose sight of their customers that give them smaller sales throughout the year. They get lost in the shuffle of larger sales (since we love those big elephants). It’s the small sale that gets us through those rough periods. While this is elementary, it is difficult to keep track when you have over 300 companies you deal with year round.
Be memorable. Make a hard commitment in each discussion for the next deliverable and meet it. Personally, I set most immediate action items to be done within 24 hours and deliver on it every time. Both the need and impression left are still active in the prospect’s mind. Delivering on the next step quickly makes a difference and sets an impression..
I think that discipline at the beginning of the sales cycle is key – cold calls, prospecting, networking, and reading. All of that requires discipline, motivation and enthusiasm.
Ask for referrals. Set a goal for yourself to secure a specific number of referrals each month. Dig deeper and penetrate your customer base.
Look for alternative contacts who can serve as inside coaches for you and connect with them quarterly. For instance, as a woman owned business, KLA is a certified diverse supplier. Supplier diversity staff are focused on increasing the amount of business their companies do with diverse suppliers. They are inside excellent coaches for new contacts and budgets.
Watch and read the news so you can use new ideas as a way to get attention. Get creative information to approach prospects and customers with a new idea.
Set weekly objectives for the number of new referrals, prospects, meetings, and proposals. New lead generation matters. Existing customers are critical but don’t lose focus on a weekly objective of meeting new qualified leads. They represent the future.
How closely do these tips align with your strategies? Visit the resources section of our website to download our PowerProspecting Sales Kit including e-tools to help you excel at prospecting.