I have learned over the years that having a well thought out plan to reaching any goal makes all the difference. Building a pipeline is no different. When I was a rookie sales guy I was not much for business plans. Give me a list and a phone, and I'll make it happen was my motto. Guess what, it worked, I did make it happen. What I learned several years later is that I could have made more happen with less work, if I had only took the time to plan.
As a salesperson, you are running your own business. Your support can range from none, to a finely tuned marketing machine. Either way it is up to you to succeed. Failure is not an option.
Any successful business starts with a plan. Your plan should have two major areas of focus. Database development and a proactive outbound teleprospecting/email plan.
The first thing is to create a quality database. Think quality over quantity here. While it is tempting to create as large a database as possible in hopes that the sheer numbers will produce prospects, this is only true to an extent. Yes you need enough prospects, but if they are not a great fit, they will only dilute your focus on the best opportunities.
As you work through the process of building and scrubbing your database, think to yourself, does this prospect look like my ideal customer? Do they look like the last several closed deals? Build a database in your CRM of quality prospects that you know are a fit for your products or services and be diligent about scrubbing and adding to your database everyday. This is the pool from which you will find prospects to fuel your pipeline.
Now you are ready to begin the process of developing your pipeline. The fact that you have a CRM which is loaded with quality prospects will make your life much easier, but the work has just begun. You need a well planned, consistent, proactive outbound teleprospecting/email plan to ensure success.
Think of your pool or prospects as a network of professionals that you can help. Reach out to them with a voicemail followed up by an email introducing yourself and your company and telling them why you believe they should take a few minutes to speak with you. You might try a message like this.
Hi Mr./Mrs. Prospect, my name is Paul Alves, calling from AG Salesworks. We specialize in identifying and delivering high value sales opportunities to technology firms. After researching your company I realized we have had specific success in your space, helping companies like x,y and z grow their pipelines by 2 to 3 times in 3-6 months. I would be happy to share some of what we have been seeing in the market and determine if we might be able to help you as well. Do you have 5-10 minutes to connect over the phone this week or next?
Take the time to research the prospect prior to reaching out, be brief, and provide specific examples as to how you have helped similar companies. Give them a compelling reason to speak with you, not a fluffy marketing pitch. These people get calls everyday; if you don't sound like a peer that can add value, they will not take the time to speak with you. You have to stand out, if you don't, you're just white noise like all the rest.
If you have a marketing team to help you, all the better, they are your friend, help them help you succeed. If you don't, you will have to do the bulk of the work yourself. Either way, be consistent. Make sure to reach out everyday in some way to your target audience with a value add message, as appropriate. Some folks might receive correspondence weekly, monthly, quarterly etc. Use this process, to progress interested prospects, and remove those that are not interested, but always keep in mind that it is your job to add value.
Don't be afraid to hit delete, those “maybe someday” prospects are for the nurturing bucket, an automated marketing process can take care of them.
Build your database, reach out to your prospect universe consistently with a value add message and set a goal of X quality conversations per day as appropriate for your business, hit your conversation goal every day and your target rich pipeline will become a reality.