Why Pipeline Management is Like Herding cats
If you have one prospective customer you have one point of focus, however when you have more than five or six you need to be a juggler. You also need a very good memory. It is far too easy to forget to chase decisions, follow up quotations, confirm bookings and turn leads into invoiced sales.
Marketing Consultant Peter Bartlett, explains how the SalesInView app makes him money.
Using a pipeline system to manage the process of turning leads into business (Pipeline Management) is not a new concept. Grown-up companies have been insisting that their sales people do pipeline management for years. SalesInView simply puts it on your iPhone or iPad where you cannot forget it and makes the whole thing easy.
So...how do you use it to make money?
This is how the SalesInView pipeline management app works for me:
Every sniff of a potential customer I get, I open a new prospect. If I receive an email or a phone call I always make sure that I end the conversation with two pieces of information:
- The person’s contact details
- An agreement as to what I need to do next
I make a habit of saving the person’s details in my normal contacts list on the phone first… this is just good practice. Then I open a new prospect record in SalesinView.
As the Contact is already in my phone I can pull it up immediately. The Product/Project usually comes from my standard list and is only a tap or two away, the same with the Action I need to take. I use the Comments list to keep all the usual things I need to do like:
- Send Ideas
- Ask about next steps
- Suggest a meeting
- Send proposal
- Arrange to drop by
And closes like:
- Finalise a date
I have built up about a dozen options now and these seem to fit almost all circumstances. It makes my pipeline management much easier.
I put a rough guess at the value. I usually like to talk to the customer in some more detail before offering a firm price. This Estimated Value will show up now in the pipeline values in the dashboard until you put a firm price in. It is always handy to record the Source of the lead. This tells me what kind of marketing is working and how much of my business comes from word of mouth or existing clients.
Tapping on the first Conversion Stage, in my case ’Approached’, lets me set today’s date. The prospect is now up and running. It is just as useful for new projects with existing customers as it is for brand new clients.
The real value of SalesInView is in the nudge it gives me to follow-up. I look at it every morning. A glance at the front page is often enough to spur me to make the calls or send the emails that are needed. A glance at the actions list prompts me to remember what I planned to say and when I thought the best time to say it might be.
Pipeline management is a bit like herding cats
Over the years in my business I have learned that unless you get people to some sort of decision in about three weeks they will have thought of another project they want to pursue, so I balance this with their need to discuss with colleagues and mull things over. The sales process is all about gently guiding the prospect along the decision making path towards buying from you.
Every time I move the customer on to the next step, I know I am making progress. Managing the decision-making process of potential clients is a bit like herding cats, it takes a lot of patience, vigilance and effort. Leave them to their own devices and they will wander off. The real value of a pipeline management system like SalesinView is that you never forget to nudge a client in the right direction and therefore very few are allowed to wander off.
It has gotten to the stage now that I use SalesinView as my excuse for chasing them. When they promise to get back to me I tell them that I have a natty little app that reminds me to nag them for an answer and once they are on the list they stay there until they make a decision. I have even found myself emailing a prospect and saying “My ever-vigilant SalesinView app is insisting that I nag you to see if you have decided on a start date”. In other words it is not me being rude and nagging you, this inanimate object is telling me to. It works a treat. Clients either laugh or admire the discipline I have in my sales process. The next thing they do is go and tell their salespeople to get SalesInView.
The wonderful thing about opening SalesInView every day is that I can take comfort that my future income is secure. If it starts to look a little empty I know I need to work hard to find a few more names to put on. If there is not enough blue I know that I need to nag a few of the prospects.