Go Back to the Basics to Grow Your Sales Pipeline – Top 6 Tips for Sellers

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These sales tips are designed to help you, the seller, understand what’s important to your organization in order for you to be successful. This includes understanding some basics about the selling principles that are important to your business in order to drive pipeline and drive growth. We aren’t going to show you functionality. We’re not going to show you solutions. We’re not going to talk to you about all this great stuff that’s out there. Instead, we’re going to focus in on the principles that you, the seller needs in order to be effective at your job. We’re going to start off talking about some of the basics. What’s important to the people you’re talking to? And more importantly, what am I selling and why is that important to the customer I’m interacting with?

Sales Tip #1: Do your research. Know your products/services. Know your audience.

Whether you’re selling products, services, who your customer is or isn’t, you are always selling your company. Your company has strengths. It has leverage. And you need to highlight that in any deal so they know what they’re getting. It could be how many years your company is in business. And we’ve been doing this for 30 years. We’re the best there is. It could be your team. We have 85 years of engineering expertise across our team. We know what we’re doing. It could be market share. We have 80% of this product type in the US. We know what we’re doing. We’re the number one company that can provide you the support you need to get it done.

Whatever it is you can do to differentiate yourself in the market against your competitors. And if all else fails, especially if you’re brand new to whatever it is you’re selling or the company or the industry, look at the people around you, especially on the sales team. Find the guys like me that are gray and have no hair left and ask them, “Over the past 20 or 30 years, what is it I need to know in order to do my job to be a successful seller?”

Sales Tip #2: Understand what drives your organizations current sales pipeline so you can fuel it.

Let’s focus on asking, where do leads come from? That’s a question that sellers have been asking for years, where are all my leads? We all know that leads can come from a variety of places.

And then the next question is, what do you do when you get a lead? Really it’s all about how to effectively track and manage leads once they come in. So a great place to start is by leveraging a CRM solution. You want to be able to track all the activities that are associated with that lead, emails, phone calls, notes that you’ve taken, any type of correspondence that is going to attach itself to that lead. Your managers can go back and they can see how sales reps are managing leads. Are they following up? Is it in a timely manner? Are they using marketing assets to communicate with that lead contact as well?

When you look at all that, you’re going to be tracking things, you’re going to be managing things, and you’re going to be creating team visibility, not only from the sales person, but also sales management and anybody who might be associated with that opportunity as well.

You can do all of this through the CRM system. You can manage the touch points. And again, you can see all the correspondence that’s going back and forth with those contacts, which is again, ultimately is going to hopefully result in a lead.

Sales Tip #3: Don’t wait to engage with leads. The time is now!

Let’s talk about leads. You’ve got them flowing in now. They’re in your inbox. Your manager is sending you those leads. What’s the typical length you take to reach out to them? Do you wait a couple of days? Do you call them right away? Most organizations are going to tell you that it’s more important to reach out to an individual at the time they’re physically looking at your information. So if your organization is lucky enough where you’ve got a system that’s feeding in web traffic while someone’s online looking at product information about your organization, you’re going to want to go ahead and literally pick that phone up right away. At that point, the timing is typically right, and that’s when you want to strike.

To prepare for that call, do some quick research on LinkedIn to learn more about that company and more about the individual and their employment history. Where have they been? Have they worked their way up? What are some of the roles that they’ve had? What does that company make? Have they moved from company to company? What do they do? What are some of the things that I could potentially talk about? Do they know anyone that I know?

That research is valuable, because typically in spending a few minutes prepping yourself by looking at either a LinkedIn profile, by looking at a Twitter feed or a Facebook page, you’re able to find some commonality between your business and what you’re trying to sell. Most importantly, you want to try to make those conversations less cold.

Sales Tip #4: The earlier you start qualifying, the better. Qualify in every conversation.

The other thing that you want to start doing as you’re going through this process is qualify. Do they have budget? When are they looking to make a decision? Am I speaking to the right appropriate individual that has the ability to authorize a purchase or authorize this particular project? Knowing that your organization is probably involving a whole host of people, such as engineering, sales, and finance, in order to collectively get together to be able to produce an estimate for your customer, you want to make sure it’s important that you’re qualifying them. Basically, you want them to tell you, “This isn’t the right firm for me,” or “This isn’t the right product for me,” so you can move on. You want to disqualify yourself as quickly as possible so that you can work on something that’s probably more suited for your business.

Try to qualify as often as you can. Make sure that you’ve got the right, you’re speaking to the right individuals and that the project is a right fit for your organization. And then once they’re physically interested and ready to engage and move forward, you want to continue that qualification process. It’s not just ask them once in one time and you’re over with. Especially if you’re moving up the ladder, you want to try to requalify with each individual that you’re speaking with because it’s critically important in order to make sure you’re not wasting your company’s time or your time.

So again, you want to try to go for “no.” You want them to tell you, no, this isn’t right for them. And then you can move yourself onto the next opportunity.

Sales Tip #5: Ask questions and listen to your prospect.

If you’re going to have your first meeting virtual with a camera, pay attention to dress for what’s appropriate, make sure your office area looks good, and maybe not have a video gaming chair as your background. However, it does depend on who you’re talking to. Regardless, you want to set the best impression. Think of it like that first date, being on your best behavior, being courteous and mindful. Once you get past all that and you’re there, you’re with the client, your prep work will shine by asking them questions, ask them what they’re looking for, ask them about themselves. You want them to know that they’re important. Not only because of the fact that you’re trying to sell them something, but also that they’re important to you as a person. They’re valuable.

If there’s multiple people, it’s important to make sure everybody in the room or at the meeting gets equal questions, equal time to speak. You want them to know that you’re paying attention again, that they’re important to you. One of the best ways you can do that is by taking notes. You shouldn’t look down a pen or an iPad or whatever it is the whole time, but repeat back what they’ve said, especially at the end of the meeting. If you’re talking through their needs and you get to the end of the meeting, you’re talking about next steps.

For example, as a recap, say, “Hey, here’s the six things I heard that you said you need or you’re looking for. I want to make sure that we can hit these points. I’m going to get back with you. I’ve heard you say that the other products you’ve talked about are too slow. Other stuff you’ve looked at as too expensive. Those are the things I’m really going to focus on.” And then always thank them at the end. I recommend even a follow-up thank you.

Lastly, make sure that the value you got out of that meeting with that client is recorded somewhere. That way, the next time you have to meet with them or someone similar, you can use what you’ve already learned to your advantage.

Sales Tip #6: CRM is key to activity visibility.

How much sales activity is enough? This is something that every seller has to be very cognizant of on a daily basis, not only to ensure that they’re performing their job and bringing in new clients and supporting existing clients and those kinds of things, but also being sure that they’re looking into the future as well so that they’ve always got a great pipeline. You have to look at things like networking, calendar appointments, tasks, emails, phone calls, etc.

At the same time, being able to measure all those things on a weekly basis so that a seller can see all of their activities is really paramount to a seller’s ability to be successful. For instance, how nice would it be to see in one place that you had 25 phone calls this week specific opportunities, 10 networking calls this week, you were able to move these opportunities along because you were able to complete these tasks, etc.

In having the ability to manage all that in a centralized CRM solution as opposed to going old school and managing it all in a notebook, there’s no comparison. In addition, by managing it in the CRM solution, you’re creating that 360 degree visibility. That is absolutely key to selling successfully in this digital age.

Have any questions about how a CRM solution can improve your sellers’ opportunities or any other sales tips? Please contact us at any time!

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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