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How to Create a Target-Rich Sales Pipeline

Clip_image002Today's guest blog post is by Paul Alves, chief executive officer and cofounder of AG Salesworks.


When I was a rookie sales guy, I didn't put much stock in creating a business plan. My motto was, "Give me a list and a phone, and I'll make it happen." Guess what? It worked; I did make it happen. But what I learned several years later is that I could have made more happen with less work, if I had only taken the time to plan.

As a salesperson, you are running your own business. Your support can range from no support at all to a finely tuned marketing machine. Either way, it is up to you to succeed. Failure is not an option.  

Every successful campaign starts with a plan, which should have two major areas of focus: database development and a proactive, outbound teleprospecting/email plan.

Build Your Database

The first step is to create a quality database. Think quality over quantity. While it is tempting to create as large a data base as possible in hopes that just the sheer numbers will produce prospects, this is only true to an extent. Yes, you need lots of prospects, but if they are not a great fit, they will only dilute your focus on the best opportunities.

Scrub Your Database

As you work through the process of building and scrubbing your database, think about whether or not your prospects look like your ideal customer. Do they look like the last several closed deals? Build a database in your CRM consisting of quality prospects that you know are a fit for your products or services, and be diligent about scrubbing and adding to it every day. This is the pool from which you will find prospects to fuel your pipeline.

Develop a Teleprospecting/Email Strategy

Now you are ready to create a well-planned, consistent, proactive, outbound teleprospecting/email plan to ensure success.

Think of your prospects as a network of professionals who you can help. Reach out to them with a phone call, and if you don't catch them directly, leave a voicemail followed up by an email introducing yourself and your company. Explain to 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 that we have had specific success in your space, helping companies like 'X,' 'Y,' and 'Z' grow their pipelines by two to three times in three to six 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 five to ten minutes to connect over the phone this week or next?"

Conduct Research

Take the time to research your prospect's business online prior to reaching out. Leverage social-media information that you can find on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. When you call, 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 every day, and if you don't sound like a peer who can add value, they will not take the time to speak with you. You have to stand out, and if you don't, then you're just white noise like all the rest.

If you have a marketing team to help you, use it. Collaborate with marketing staff; let them know what messages resonate and which ones fall on deaf ears. Always fine-tune your message for each industry segment and job function. Don't use one boilerplate message on every call. Customize, individualize, and optimize your calls. Engage interested prospects, and remove those who are not ready to buy, but always keep in mind that it is your job to add value on every call. Don't be afraid to drop prospects into the nurturing bucket and let an automated marketing process take care of them. 

Final Words

Build your database, reach out to your prospect universe consistently with a value add message, set a goal to complete an x-amount of quality conversations per day as appropriate for your business, and hit that conversation goal every day. Executing on your plan will turn your target rich pipeline into dollars.

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Your database construction and washing process, through your work, think about whether or not your prospects look like your ideal customers. Do you see them as in past years closed transactions? Set up a database in your CRM, you know there is a quality prospects for your product or service, and diligent scrubbing and added to every day. This is the pool, you will find that the prospects of fuel pipeline.

To develop Teleprospecting / e-mail policy

Now you can create a well-planned, consistent, positive, the outbound teleprospecting / e-mail program, to ensure success.

Think about your prospects, network professionals, you can help people. Reach out to make a phone call to them, if you do not seize them directly, leave a voicemail to follow up on an e-mail to introduce yourself and your company. To explain to them why you think they should take a few minutes to talk to you. You can try a message like this:

"Hi, Mr. / Ms. Outlook, my name is Paul Alves, requirements AG Salesworks. We focus on the identification and technology companies to deliver high-value sales opportunities. Researching your company, I realized that we have specific success in your space, helping companies such as 'X', 'Y' and 'Z' pipeline in two to three times the growth of three to six months, I will be happy to share with you that we have seen in on the market, and decided, if we may be able to help you, and you to connect the phone this week or next five to ten minutes? "

Ecommerce Ideas

Most successful businesses have a large database of contacts, including clients, past clients, prospects, alliances and suppliers, which they keep up-to-date and fully utilise.

This is why your contact list is a goldmine for your business. The number and variety of strategies (eg. email marketing, ecards, value adding, referrals, events etc.) you can utilise with it are limitless, as are the results you can achieve from it. Using your database well can generate leads for your business and increase your sales.

Here are a few tips to build your database:

Get every new customer to complete a form (on your website or at your premises) that will automatically capture their details and populate your database of contacts.
Send a postcard or letter to your clients giving them an incentive to sign up on your website. For example if it will be opened by the right person, include a request with your next invoice for their email address (if you have all other details but not the email address).
Get everyone in your team to ask each new caller, visitor, or appointment for permission to be placed on your mailing list for your free e-newsletter and special offers that go to members only. Describe your content from a WIIFM perspective so they have an incentive to say yes.
Run a competition on your website or through other mediums. Include a tick box, already ticked, for receiving future offers.
Promote a 'sign up' form on the home page of your website (or better still on every page within your site) that automatically places their details into your contact database.
Promote the 'sign up' facility in your newsletter so that if someone 'sends it to a friend' they too can subscribe easily.
Have a subscribe link in the signature file on all your team's outgoing emails (i.e. at the end of each email).
Look at every point of contact you have with people and utilize it to gather details. Ask people to join your database at:
Trade shows (get cards from fellow presenters and attendees in your target market)
Networking functions
Supply articles to other businesses and include a link to your website with a sign up page
An important factor in getting people to join your database is the signup form you ask them to complete. Here are some tips for the form:

It needs to be simple and fast for the user
Briefly describe what they are signing up for and its frequency so they know what they are getting
Keep your details requested under 7 points
Where possible, use drop down boxes for speed and efficiency
Use a form that automatically updates your contact list to save you time
Use incentives to encourage signips, including prizes, sample products, ebooks, white papers or discounts
Put all of these processes into consistent action and your database of contacts will be constantly growing. And so will your business.

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