Filling your sales pipeline

picture1Successful sales people are masters at generating opportunities. More so they understand the importance of developing a full and ongoing pipeline of sales opportunities. So how do we ensure that we have sufficient number of sales opportunities in our pipeline?

Here are some tips to help you search out those opportunities;

  • Email can be a great source of opportunities. When did you last check back through your mails? Use the follow up flagging system in Outlook to classify any mail that could be a prospect or needs follow up. Then from time to time search through the mails marked for follow up.
  • Previous clients. Look back in your records and those of your organisation. Check out clients that have been supplied in the past. If you haven’t been in touch for some time schedule a call. You might be pleasantly surprised at the response.
  • Trade magazines. All trade magazines have features and advertisers. These often provide information on companies that you were unaware of and the issues your industry is facing. The amount of leads gained from trade press alone should be worth the subscription.
  • Existing clients. These should be easier to move along your pipeline as you already have a business relationship. Make sure you are up to date on their activities and purchases. Use lots of open questions to find out as much as possible about their issues, problems, what keeps them awake at night. Solve those issues and you are on your way to making more sales.
  • Exhibitions. One does not have to be an exhibitor to take advantage of the opportunities that attendance can bring. Where else can one bump into many people in one place at a time and start up a conversation. It’s a lot easier than cold calling and you can meet literally hundreds of people in the day. Why not book yourself on to an exhibition? Set yourself a task to meet 20 people in the day. Remember to follow up.
  • Networking. Make it a behavioural trait to put as many people in contact with others who can help each other. Your investment will pay back in time with people referring opportunities to you.
  • Business cards/Contacts list. Review these regularly. We all forget how many people we have in our contact arena. Keep accurate records in a CRM database.
  • Newsletters. If like me you have a large number of contacts and it is impossible to maintain regular contact then newsletters and promotions can be a valuable way of maintaining contact and building a relationship.
  • Internet searches and directories. Unbelievable source of information.
  • Library (main local) has access to company lists and records. They also sell marketing lists with contact details.
  • Use a call centre. External companies will for a fee take over some or all of your outbound prospecting and cold calling. They should generate appointments for you to follow up and convert into customers.
  • PPC or pay per click. Google, Yahoo and MSN all have cost per click advertising. Great way to get to the top of the search listings. Useful when you have a niche product that can be sold on line.
  • Google Alerts. Set up a Google alert for things like “new restaurant <in your town>, Increases capacity in <your product types> etc and you will be prompted with automatic alerts on new opportunities.
  • Invest in a good CRM system (customer relationship management system).

The above list is not exhaustive and many other ways exist to generate leads to fill your sales pipeline.

Good luck with your prospecting!