Don’t settle for living in a boom-bust sales cycle: get started building your spiral pipeline
By Colleen Francis
This is the first in a series of articles that will explore how an important new approach to managing prospects and customers can help you obtain perpetual sales growth.
You hear it so often these days that it has become cliché: that sales growth comes in waves. It’s a notion that suggests you ride the crest of a boom in good times, and put your endurance to the test in tough times when the phone stops ringing.
Buying into that kind of thinking can seriously hamper growth and undermine the earning potential of every salesperson in your organization. Just as important, that way of looking at the world is based on a fallacy—that a boom-bust dynamic is simply the nature of sales in any industry and that you have to accept it as part of a feast-or-famine way of doing business.
Not true! In fact, it’s a choice you make about whether you want to accept the boom-bust cycle as part of your business, or whether you opt to work harder to find a better way to manage your work and your staff.
A better way: your spiral pipeline
As a sales trainer and coach skilled at helping organizations sell more in less time, here’s how I describe that better way: build and maintain a spiral pipeline of prospecting and closing for your organization.
No more laying pipe in a straight line anticipating nothing. Your spiral pipeline makes a full 360-degree turn while constantly moving forward. It means you make the choice to build an industrial-grade sales force that can anticipate, respond and propel—generating your best sales ever, month-over-month, year after year.
Making the choice
Understand the difference between accepting the status quo and embracing this more dynamic way of looking at your sales force.
Living through a boom-bust sales cycle is like being in a small ship on the high seas, rolling and pitching. You might be slowly moving forward, but your immediate problem is that you’re at the mercy of an endless barrage of unpredictable waves tossing you up and down. Ask anyone who has ever endured these conditions—plenty of people (me included) are bound to get seasick!
On the other hand, having a spiral pipeline is like being on a ship equipped with stabilizers, helping you cut through the rough patches so you can build speed and enjoy a steady, smooth ride. You spend far less time reacting constantly to perpetually changing conditions, and instead you can keep your eye fixed on the horizon and chart a profitable course ahead.
Let’s put this in practical terms: if your business bounces back and forth regularly between 150% quota attainment and 30% quota attainment, you are putting a lot of unnecessary strain on resources. Uncertainty can demoralize even your best salespeople, it sure doesn’t help with cash flow, and like that little ship in rough waters, your staff are left casting about madly between closing and prospecting. Who would choose to put themselves through all of that, especially when it’s entirely preventable?
Your spiral pipeline in three steps
Making the choice to build a spiral pipeline for your sales starts with engaging three core activities in your organization. And continuing these three core activities every day. That’s the key to the spiral pipeline, it’s continual. I’m going to highlight these for you now, and in future articles in this series, we will explore each one of these points in greater detail.
1. Engage in client attraction: This is about creating a steady input of prequalifying leads so you have a steadily overflowing sales pipeline. By doing this, you will discover that there is a significant overlap between your sales and marketing roles.
2. Participate post-sale: In the past, companies would say to their sellers that a sale was closed once they had a signed contract—they could move on to the next prospect. That’s not the case anymore. Based on what I am seeing in top-ranked sales organizations today, I believe that the sale is closed only after the customer starts their implementation process. Not only does it demonstrate to the customer that you’re on hand to ensure a quick transition, it also builds trust and creates ideal conditions for leveraging client satisfaction to assist in new opportunities.
3. Create growth opportunities: Stay engaged with clients post-sale through their implementation process to make sure they are receiving full value from what they bought from you. If the client doesn’t perceive that they have received full value, then a growth opportunity has been missed. Don’t make that mistake. Satisfied clients who are sold on the value of your product or service can create new growth opportunities—helping you in the product- and service-creation process, introducing you to a new market, and creating new customers.
The three steps I have outlined for you are the foundation on which you will be building your spiral pipeline for continual and consistent revenue generation. In forthcoming articles in this series, we will explore in greater detail how to implement each step so that you can continue adding new segments to an ever-growing pipeline…and achieve a steadily growing record of sales success.
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Make sure you check out Colleen's latest book, Nonstop Sales Boom for powerful strategies to drive consistent sales growth quarter after quarter, year after year.
Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions (www.EngageSelling.com). Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.
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