sales pipeline largeIs your sales pipeline busted? Need a better strategy? Don't feel bad. These things happen to all of us at some point in our careers.

[quotesright]In fact, most sales representatives struggle with finding people to buy more than closing the sale. [/quotesright]

Recognizing the problem is your first step to fixing it. But after you've assessed the damage, it's time to get to work.

We've put together our 11 favorite sales tips to help you breathe new life into your pipeline. Let's get started!

1. Find the Right Person

Fragmentation of the film market makes it difficult to put any hard numbers on the unsolicited screenplays being sent annually to Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, and traditional Hollywood studios.

Here’s what we do know: There were 563 movies released in 2015. This was up from 490 in 2004. And according to the National Association of Theatre Owners, the figures are rising each year.

How does anything get made and what does that have to do with your sales pipeline?

Most movies get made because of relationships. If a "new" screenwriter breaks through, it's because he has cultivated relationships with people in the industry and learned how to get his script past the gatekeepers and disinterested.

Similarly, salespeople need a face and a name before they have a chance at consistently closing deals. [quotesright]Customers want to feel valued, not commoditized. [/quotesright]

The lesson in this: Don't just approach a company or organization with dollar signs in your eyeballs. Find the person in the best position to help.

To do that, you’ll first need top-level sales professionals. They have the maturity, knowledge, and skills to be good at finding and closing good deals.

One strong salesperson, often the owner, is far from enough to grow. You need a sales bench with depth and strength. [quotesright]The challenge is how do you find salespeople with the skills and drive to move the needle? [quotesright]

After all, sales people, even some spectacular underperformers, can look good in an interview.

There is a reliable, data-based, and proven solution using today’s sales assessment tools that identify the people with the drive and personal characteristics of top performers, so you don’t have to guess. Other assessments will help you discover just how good their sales skills are and if there are weaknesses, you’ll know what areas to work on. Generally, these will improve your odds to about 85 percent first-time great picks.

If you are not using today’s assessment tools, you are missing a fundamental building block to increasing your sales.

2. Locate the Pain Points

Every business or organization has something it wishes it could do better. Sometimes they know what they're doing wrong. Sometimes they haven't a clue.

It doesn't matter what the customers’ level of understanding is. [quotesright]If you can speak directly to the problem, they'll see your value because you understand their situation. [/quotesright]

One activity we like to do when trying to find pain points is this: Go to a site like Amazon or anywhere that sells informational products such as books where you can browse the content and has customer reviews.

Then read, read, read.

Some reviews will be throwaways; others, illuminating. Three-star reviews (on a 5-star scale) are particularly helpful because they illustrate what the book did right and where it fell short.

You can mine a lot of pain from those shortfalls, and it can be useful whether you're selling a product or service.

[quotesright]Be sure to review any industry conferences and blogs for insights. [/quotesright] You can find current problems by examining speaker topics and the questions posed in blogs.

3. It Starts With Your Target Market: Match the Solution to Problem

Some sales pipeline efforts suffer because you're trying to sell people or companies on the wrong solution.

Say your business is helping to design and furnish schools, but you only work on an all-or-nothing basis. If all your leads are budget-strapped (as schools often are) and piecemeal their design and furnishing needs room-by-room, then you have a solution too broad and problems too narrow.

Don't try selling a “C” solution to an “A” problem. If your company doesn't have any A solutions available, consider creating one. Otherwise, target customers who are closer to your product or service.

Failure to properly target your market is like a blacksmith beating on cold steel, it wears you out and accomplishes little.

4. Qualify the Lead

Slow down to speed up. You'll go much further taking your time with a lead. Drill down into the business. Find the key decision makers, as we've already discussed. Fail to qualify leads and your sales will fall flat. You'll get discouraged. Next thing you know, you're looking for a new line of work.

Don't just throw random pitches to anyone associated with your industry. Learn what keeps them up at night and make time to speak with them when you're sure there is potential, and you are talking to someone who can make the decision.

5. Sell Professionally

Many sales reps flame out because they're impatient. They think of selling as a numbers game instead of a relationship-building process. The truth is, they don’t really understand how to sell in today’s marketplace where customers look for trust and sound advice.

To do that, you need well-trained, motivated, consultative, and knowledgeable sales people who understand the sales process very well indeed. [quotesright]Selling the right solution will win more customers and referrals while negative social media posts can sink your reputation faster and as surely as the Titanic. [/quotesright]

Invest in sales training, it keeps your team motivated, up to date with best practices, and “sharpens the saw” so the edge doesn’t dull over time.

6. Value the Data

Big data no longer gives you an unfair advantage over the competition, because the competition is already using it to develop their sales pipeline efforts. If you're not using data, you're falling behind.

Most companies and organizations use data for customer analytics. By understanding who your existing customers are, you can better determine similar profiles. This brings in more qualified leads from the outset.

7. Have a Plan and Know Your Metrics

Say you want to make or increase sales $1 million over the next year. You know the average lead is worth about $50 in revenue per month, or $600 annually.

That means you'll need roughly 1,667 closings this year, or over 4.5 per day. If you close 20 percent of your leads, you'll need about 22.5 qualified leads per day.

[quotes]A steady flow of quality leads doesn’t happen by accident unless you sell recreational medicine.[/quotes] That is why you need a roadmap, a written plan of action for how you're going to reach and generate more leads.

Your system will then change based on the number of sales you're getting (or not getting). Document that information as well and use the trend to make changes to improve your performance. Repeating failing activities seldom results in gains.

See how peeling back the layers can create a viable system? You just went from a $1 million pie-in-the-sky number to a viable action plan telling you what you'll need to do each day to get there.

8. Stay Organized

People hate being sold to, but they don't mind buying. To close a deal, you have to treat them special.

That starts with your sales pipeline and how you catalog their information and how well you tailor your approach. Organizational skills help you learn more about your customers as well as track and meet sales goals.

A Customer Relation Manager (CRM) can help your sales team and marketing departments be more organized and productive so be sure to check out these articles in my newsletter.**********

9. Update Information

Always keep up with the names and faces going into your sales pipeline. Stay up to date on their employment status, position, and major life events whenever possible.

Nothing derails your pipeline faster than outdated information. Make connections on LinkedIn. Check in from time to time just to see how things are going.

[quotesright]Don't let them forget about you, [/quotesright] even if they're not currently in a position to buy from you. A high quality newsletter is one of the best ways to stay in contact. It is direct from you to them, direct to their email inbox, and doesn’t depend on someone finding your post on a social media site.

10. Think Branding and Image

"People buy from people they like and trust" is an adage that has been used in the sales world more times than we can count. While it can get tiring hearing it, the saying has resonated because it's true.

As a professional trying to develop your sales pipeline, it's important that you treat yourself like a private company. Realize that leads aren't likely to give you the time of day if there is a lack of trust or respect.

Take pride in your image and the impression others get when they hear your name. Branding and image are vital to 21st Century sales success stories. [quotesright]A brand that stands for quality, fairness, value, and reliability is what people seek. [/quotesright] Your reputation and brand promise is a hugely valuable asset today.

What does your brand stand for? Does your customer come first? Is your customer service department upholding your brand promise?

11. Remember Time Is Sacred

Time is precious, even if some days feel like they're a year long. You look up, and a decade has passed.

Time is your enemy, it makes hot leads go cold, allows competitors to slip in with new products and offers. [quotesright]Net result? Not good. [quotesright]

Pay closer attention to how you're managing the minutes of your day. Schedule some time away from your phone or computer at the start of each day.

Write down any priorities and obligations that you have to get done. Make note of the ones on the horizon. Then, think in terms of deadlines, and figure out how you can fit everything in.

Time management is essential for any organization, especially multi-employee organizations. So is effectiveness. If you have performance issues you’d like help with, we’ve got some excellent solutions that make immediate improvements. Let’s start a conversation, contact me USA: 877.433.6225

Address Your Sales Pipeline Problems Now and Not Later

A bad tree will not bear good fruit. It starts at the roots and relies on the time and care you provide to help it grow into something strong and healthy.

Your sales pipeline is no different. It's the root of all sales, and if your sales are suffering, the problem is down there in the dirt.

If you need help getting your sales off the ground or pushing past a plateau, get in touch. We have the experience and tools to fix broken, leaky pipelines and head off problems in the future.

Let’s start a conversation today, contact me: USA: 877.433.6225