We have some solid sales prospects in the pipeline, but not enough. Not knowing where all this year’s sales are going to come from just gnaws at me. How do I find peace? I want to be able to look ahead and know there’s enough activity in the works for me to hit my goals and sleep well at night.
THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Start with figuring out what marketing and sales problems you’re trying to solve; set goals. Pick a set of activities that will help you meet the goals you set. Match activity to the pipeline stage you’re trying to beef up.
List questions that marketing could help address. Are sales growing, just not fast enough? Are they declining? Did you ever have enough leads? What route do buyers take to find and qualify your company? How much more of the target market will buy from you if they were more aware of what your company does?
Start with research to fill in as many information gaps as possible; stop guessing. Gather information on specific competitors, especially those to whom you seem to lose most frequently. Talk to customers and lost prospects to find out how they made a purchasing decision and how satisfied they are with their choices.
Now it’s time to move to action. Set specific, measurable goals. Get exposed to an additional 5 percent of the overall target market. Build relationships with 20 additional prospects each month. Cut out one month from the time a potential buyer becomes aware until purchase. Increase by 200 the number of second looks you get from new suspects. Expand the top of your pipeline by 50 percent as measured by the number of suspects who come to your company for information each week.
For each goal, define several actions to take. Some of the actions for different goals may be similar; that’s okay. For example getting exposure to an additional 5 percent of the overall market might mean committing to advertising, which might also help you get more second looks.
You may need to do some more research at this stage. For example, why do some buyers choose to go with other solutions? Is it that they’re not aware that your company can meet their needs, or are they fixed on solving some problems you’re not addressing?
Think about how you’re going to attract, nurture and reel in those who start as suspects. Does your company need more overall visibility to connect with more suspects at the top of the funnel? Try press releases and articles about your company. Position your company as a “thought leader,” providing information to the marketplace at large.
Good at creating prospects, but they drift away over time? Build affinity by doing training through webinars. Gather groups of like-minded buyers to talk about industry-specific issues. Just make sure what you’re offering appeals to the future customers with whom you want to bond.
Need prospects to engage in sales faster, more easily? Serve up action-ready offers to get prospects to act. Use high quality information as an entre for salespeople to make contact. Work on increasing conversion rates by testing various approaches.
Work your way through by trial and error until you see progress with each activity and goal. By breaking the problem down into bite-size issues you’ll see results more quickly. With success will come both funds and energy to focus on what works. More proven marketing activities in your toolkit will lead to more prospects into your funnel.
Looking for a good book? Try “The Marketing Plan Handbook: Develop Big-Picture Marketing Plans for Pennies on the Dollar” by Robert W. Bly.
Andi Gray is President of Strategy Leaders Inc., StrategyLeaders.com, a business consulting firm that teaches companies how to double revenue and triple profits in repetitive growth cycles. Have a question for AskAndi? Wondering how Strategy Leaders can help your business thrive? Call or email for a free consultation & diagnostics: 877-238-3535, AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com. Check out our library of business advice articles: AskAndi.com.