The best practices for keeping a robust and active sales funnel have been discussed by every sales leader from Dale Carnegie to Zig Ziglar. Many of these techniques look great on paper, but what really works in a real world sales environment, given the market realities of your business?
Here are two key concepts that you can turn into best practices across your sales organization to start off with:
1. Never Stop Prospecting
The concept of keeping your sales funnel full is one part methodical activity and one part honest assessment. Let’s break this sentence into these two concepts.
First, let’s discuss methodical activity. We all know sales prospecting is a numbers game. Productivity is an important metric in sales, and the more activity you have, the fuller your funnel will be. If you’re closing a lot of deals, it can be challenging to find the time to prospect. If given the choice between talking to a hot lead versus a cold call, we are going to choose the hot lead every time. It’s human nature to be drawn towards activities that make us feel good, but if you stop prospecting and your sales funnel develops holes, you will suffer a dry spell that will affect future paychecks.
Instead, consider this daily best practice: never leave your desk without finding one qualified lead. You will end up with a steady stream of prospects that will result in a consistent flow of successful sales. Your paycheck and your boss will be very grateful.
2. Kill the Red Herring
The honest assessment part of keeping a full sales funnel has an effect when we face the reality of red herrings. Red herrings are smoked fish, of course, but in literature, it’s a concept that is meant to distract the reader. It’s magical slight of hand that entices you to pay attention to the wrong thing, while attempting to cover up what is really happening. Don’t fall for it.
Red herrings smell bad and are messy, whether as food or literary concept. An example of a red herring would be a lead that has been in your funnel for too long with no real client engagement. Perhaps the client isn’t really serious about buying, doesn’t have the budget, or maybe you’re not approaching the right decision maker. If you were being honest, you would admit you should get rid of it and move on.
Flailing away at non-qualified leads, keeping leads in your pipeline too long as a way to disguise the fact that you aren’t prospecting enough – we’ve all done it. But clogging your sales funnel with clumpy smelly red herrings will ultimately reduce the size of your paycheck.
Think of your pipeline as a colander. You want to be able to move the water out of the colander but keep the especially delicious meat inside intact. Don’t hang on too long to a lead that you know will not produce a sale. The honest analysis will disqualify the lead, allowing you to replace it with a more qualified lead.
If you follow the concept of Never Stop Prospecting, you will never run out of potential leads. So, let it go, disqualify, move on and Kill the Red Herring. If you adopt these two concepts as two initial best sales practices, your funnel will balance as a healthy pipeline of consistent leads. Practice these simple concepts daily for a smooth and even process of prospecting, disqualifying and closing. Good luck and good selling!
Alen Mayer has over 20 years of experience in international sales and business development with the persuasion, psychology and magic of NLP. He’s a newly appointed President of the Sales Association Ontario Chapter and President of the International Association of NLP Sales Professionals; one of the Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2012, as voted as #2 of the Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management in 2013, published author of 4 sales titles, Certified NLP Trainer, Licensed Business Success Coach, and Certified Sales Professional.
Alen Mayer helps sales leaders enlarge their sales circles and tap into their team members’ individual strengths to increase sales results. He works closely with companies to create a tailor-made, irresistible language for introverted clients