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Sales Strategy
5 Ways to Milk your Pipeline During Slow Lead-Gen Months
Nov 1, 2012 | The Canadian Professional Sales Assocation lock

The ebb and flow of selling can be dizzying and frustrating over the long term. When new leads are flowing and there is a continual amount of novel business moving through the pipeline, you don’t have to worry too much about finding opportunities to get you to your sales target.

However, during periods when the stream of incoming leads slow down, you may have to turn your focus inward to see what new opportunities exist with your current clients and prospects.

Here are five ways to create and convert opportunities within your current accounts and prospects to make up for the lack of new business:

1. Offer time-limited promotions.

For opportunities that are lingering, a promotion that is compelling can move someone over those last decision hurdles. Creating a one-day or one-week promotion that encourages the buyer to act immediately or lose out on a great deal is a message that can be broadcast and personalized to your pipeline. Ensure that the offer and end-date are clearly stated, and that it is easy to redeem, and compelling. It can be in the form of a discount, additional prizes, cash back, or bonus merchandise.

It is an opportunity for your sales team to be creative and assess the trade-offs between closing business now with promotions that may affect revenue and waiting to close the deal at full price. Use time-limited promotions selectively to avoid future customers gaming your system when lead-generation is high. It's a quick tactic that can get movement in your pipeline right away.

2. Encourage the purchase of multiple items or services

Consider presenting rewards or other incentives to encourage buyers to make multiple purchases. There are a variety of ways to make such an offer: BOGO deals or other discounts may apply to your products. Likewise, you can offer a service to go along with the purchase, such as free one-on-one support, etc.

Cross-promote your various services or products to recent customers to incentivize an open window of buying another item or a higher-priced item at a discount. Be creative in how you package these offers verbally and visually. The goal is to make the opportunity for getting more for less attractive to the buyer with incentives that correlate.

3. Turn One-Offs into larger accounts

As you examine your pipeline, focus in on those accounts who may not be taking full advantage of your product offerings. Discuss how their experience has been with your ancillary products and services, and then move the conversation into your core product offerings. Work with these accounts to show them how they can benefit from an entire suite of your offerings, and discuss a long-term plan that will keep them coming back. Selling a broader vision and helping the buyer understand more of your offerings based on initial trust can maximize revenue for each such deal. Pretty soon, you will have created much larger, more sustainable opportunities from an initial smaller interest.

4. Create a referral program

You can approach your recent customers with a reward for referral program in order to gain new business leads from your current clients. This program needs to be rewarding and convenient enough for a busy person to want to take the time and attention to submit their referrals. Consider developing an online form or system that makes it easy for them to input the pertinent contact info.

Ask for the referrer's participation and keep them updated on the status of interest of the colleagues and friends they send your way. It is ultimately a transfer of trust, and they want to ensure you make them look good. When there are successful leads or sales, pay them immediately with gratitude; they helped build your pipeline organically.

5. Bundle a product with value-added services.

Try bundling added services into your sales offer such as months of consulting service, added time on product warranties, or any other service or guarantee that provides a higher level of security and value without additional cost to the buyer. For those clients that want a money-back guarantee, extend the time. Help them make a no-brainer decision by removing the risk.

Some services may not be publicized. Take a look at each account and customize an offer that makes sense and that your company can stand behind. Those deals that are sitting in the pipeline because of uncertainty can gain an immense impetus to move to closing with services that help them become more successful as part of the deal.

Slow Lead Generation Means More Creativity

Ultimately, relying on lead generation alone only makes you vulnerable to the ups and downs of marketing and selling. Seasonality, the economy and competitive moves can greatly disrupt the acquisition of new leads. Consider these tips for milking your pipeline. It's not only a way to drive revenue and hit your sales targets, but also to expand your creativity and bolster your relationship with your current accounts.

About the Canadian Professional Sales Association
Since 1874, we’ve been developing and serving sales professionals by providing programs, benefits, and resources that help you sell more, and sell smarter.

Contact us today at CustomerService@cpsa.com or 1-888-267-2772 to see how we can help you and your team reach new heights in sales success.

Copyright ©2012 by The Canadian Professional Sales Association
For permissions, contact editor@cpsa.com.

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Recommended Reading:
- Preparing for Successful Sales Relationships
- Getting Back in the Game: Strategic Calling to Find Hidden Opportunities in Your Current Accounts
- Objectively Re-Assessing Your Current Opportunities
- Manage the Pipeline

View more sales articles from CPSA’s Knowledge Centre.

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