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It’s all in the Pipeline

How is the best way to increase your sales? Should you advertise more? Perhaps a new website is needed. Is there some product improvement necessary? Or should you reduce your prices? Does your staff need sales training? Which should you do first, or do you have to do everything at once?

The answer to all these questions is in your Sales Pipeline. Every Sales Pipeline has a bottleneck, and often more than one. The first step is to identify the biggest bottleneck which is where you will get the biggest bang for your buck.

When you analyse your sales pipeline, look first at your enquiries. Are you getting all the enquiries you can handle? Is the conversion rate to sales greater than 80%? Is it close to 100%? (If so, you are too cheap, and the easiest way to increase your sales is to increase your prices!) If your conversion rate is very high, then yes, increasing your enquiries through targeted promotion is likely to be the priority.

What if your conversion rate is below 50%? There could be one of two reasons for that. Either your marketing is poorly targeted, or there are problems downstream of enquiry generation.

When looking at your marketing, it pays to segment the enquiries to determine which parts are well targeted and which parts are unproductive. One marketing executive once famously said: “I know 50% of my marketing budget is wasted, I just don’t know which half.”

When looking downstream of your marketing, it’s important to define each step of the Sales Pipeline, for example: Initial Enquiry, Initial Consultation, Quote, Close. Each step should flow naturally to the next increasing the commitment of the buyer and the perceived value of your offer. A rush to the quote stage without establishing value is a recipe for rejection.

Where in your pipeline are you losing buyers, and why are you losing them? How well are the initial enquiries being handled? Are buyers too focused on price? What are you doing to establish value before you answer the price question? How do you present your quote, and how do you close the sale?

Examples of how to improve your Sales Pipeline are having a script for the initial enquiry which both qualifies the buyer and reveals value in the new relationship, having a process in the next stages to determine customer needs and creating desire for your solution even before presenting a proposal or quote, and of course having some simple closes to get the sale.

By analysing your pipeline, the priorities becomes readily visible and low hanging fruit can be grasped for a relatively little effort generating substantial boosts to your sales.

Of course when the biggest bottleneck has been removed, your pipeline will reveal the next one to be removed for your next sales boost.

How well defined is your Sales Pipeline? Can you see the bottlenecks?

May Your Business Be – As You Plan It.

Dr Greg Chapman – The Profit Whisperer

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 by Helen Chapman

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 by Helen Chapman