I Don’t Understand It, Every Year Our Sales Pipeline Shrinks

I was speaking with a new client recently who was totally perplexed by the fact that his team’s sales pipeline has declined for a third year in a row. More important, their sales had declined for a third year in a row as well. “If this keeps up we are all going to be out of jobs as the business closes the doors.”

“So tell me what you are doing, and what accountabilities have you set in place to turn this situation around.”

“Well for one thing, I have challenged them to increase their cold calling targets by 10%. We have bought email lists from a couple of companies and started to send targeted accounts a compelling message about our products. In addition, we have set new targets for the field sales team to make two additional visits per day to potential customers as they travel on their route”

All I can hear is the wrong answer buzzer going off every time he states an objective.

I'm the trouble starter, punkin' instigator

“Are you aware that 98% of all cold calls and emails go unanswered? That dropping in on people today will not get you through the gatekeeper?”

“Think about the time required to make all of those cold calls. If you can make 100 cold calls in a day, that will lead to two potential customers. Let’s assume you can see the two potential clients, what are your chances of closing them?”

“About 10%.”

“OK, so you need to make 1,000 cold calls to generate 20 potential clients that will result in 2 customers.” That’s 10 days to get to two sales that will takes months to close. Is that your sales target?”

“No that would not even pay to turn the lights on?”

“Then you need to change the way your team sells. Business people now proactively ‘block’ outbound marketing wherever they can, and no buyer is sitting around waiting for an unknown vendor to contact them. With the information that is available to us all today, along with options such as ‘educational content’ that can help drive ‘inbound’, it’s just lazy to continue to use unsophisticated outreach in 2018.”

This is an actual conversation with an actual client. The company has since adjusted their selling process to one of Social Selling. They are using their position in the marketplace to inform and educate. They are active on the social platforms, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Their web site is not a selling vehicle, as much as it is an informational treasure chest that generates questions. There is a call to action on every landing page. They post articles and other commentary in groups and social sites.

The bottom line is that after only 6 months, they are driving new sales and their pipeline is full of not only potential customers, but converted customers.

What is happening with your sales team?

Guy Kawasaki said: “If you have more money than brains, then focus on outbound, but if you have more brains than money, then focus on inbound.”

Written by Richard Doyle — @Deverons1 || @ExpoSalesLtd