To monetize your sales pipeline, you need to fill it, prioritize it and tackle it. This whole idea of knowing what to do and not doing it, is rampant. It seems ridiculous. It’s like, well, who would do that? And the answer is nearly everybody does it. And none of us do it on purpose, but we all, to some extent, end up doing it.
David: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. In today’s episode, cohost Jay McFarland and I will be discussing how to monetize your sales pipeline. Welcome back, Jay.
Jay: Thank you, David. It’s such a pleasure to be here, and I really can’t wait to talk a little bit more about this process. I see people who kind of think they have a pipeline, but they’re not sure exactly what to do with it. So a good, important topic today.
David: Yeah. What to do with it or in a lot of cases, even what it is. I think even before we can talk about how to monetize it, you almost have to identify it. What is it? What is your sales pipeline? Who is it? Who are the people who are in it? Where is it located? Is it just inside your head?
Because if it’s just inside your head, leaving enormous amounts of money on the table.
Jay: Yeah, and we’ve talked in the past about key performance indicators, KPIs, and so first you have to know what that pipeline is. Then you have to know how to track it and where people are at in each stage so that things ideally trigger automatically. I think that’s the end goal, but getting there can be difficult.
3 Steps to Monetize Your Sales Pipeline
David: Yeah, I mean I think of it in terms of filling it, prioritizing it and then tackling it. Because if you’re not sort of doing it in that order, I think it’s going to potentially be problematic for you.
Jay: All right. Well then let’s start with filling it. Let’s get that going.
David: Okay, Well, when we talk about filling our pipeline after we’ve identified , after we’ve identified what it is and where it is, filling it obviously is the biggest thing. And I think a lot of salespeople tend to think of this as being pretty important, getting new leads into their pipeline.
And of course, it is very important. It’s the number one step because until you know who’s in there, you don’t really have anything that you can do. You’ve got to have the prospect first.
So filling it starts with asking yourself, who goes in here? And what types of clients am I looking for? Are they in particular types of industries? Are they located in a particular geographic area?
What are the different things that I’m looking for in terms of a good, solid prospect for my pipeline? So who goes in is very important. But who stays out is also extremely important. And we don’t think about this, but it is so critical.
In my sales career over the years, particularly in the early stages, I just thought if someone was willing to talk to me then they were a good prospect.
And I learned, not as quickly as I should have, that that’s just not the case. There are people out there who will be happy to talk to you again and again and never actually buy anything from you.
So when you’re looking at who goes in and who stays out, you want to think in terms of exactly that. When you are talking to someone, if you’re not able to get them qualified in as quickly as you’d like, to make sure that they have the need, the desire, the money, the budget, the willingness to spend, then you don’t want to keep going back to that well and expecting to get water out if there’s no water to be found.
Jay: You know, we had exactly this problem here recently with the company I’ve been doing consulting for. They wanted to start using Google ads and
Jay: So they just put out some general pay for click kind of stuff, and their phones and their online scheduling just lit up. I mean every single day, packed and full. But only about 3% of those calls were related to their actual focus and their product.
So they ended up spending all this time. And then what they had to do was go through a process of, like you said, Okay. Identifying the core customer and refining your keywords down to a point where you’re not getting all of that other stuff. At first, they’re like, “look at all these calls. This is going to be great,” and it turned into a huge detractor very quickly.
To Monetize Your Sales Pipeline, Don’t Overfill it
David: Yeah. And so when we think in terms of filling our pipeline, and I led with that. I said, Okay, first we have to fill it, but we don’t want to overfill it. And we particularly don’t want to fill it with people who have no likelihood of becoming clients. So, a lot of times the thought process is, you know, where is the next lead going to come from?
Whether it’s coming from online, whether you’re doing something with Google, whether you’re doing in person prospecting, whether you’re doing it through social media, where they come from is not as critical as making sure that you’re getting people into the pipeline that you can qualify in or out as quickly as possible.
So that’s really the first thing. Fill it, but don’t overfill it. Because I know people who have what they think are sales pipelines. It’s basically a database of thousands of people that they’re never going to get to, because they didn’t do the second thing we’re talking about, which is to prioritize it and decide, you know, who are the people in here that I need to be in touch with now?
We need to rank the contacts inside that database so that we can be in touch with the right people at the right time. I mean, that’s really all prioritization is, starting with the most important contacts first, and that’s a challenge sometimes too, is to say, Okay, well who is most important?
is it what they refer to as the bleeding neck thing? You know, who’s in the most trouble? Or is it, hey, I’ve got a really good, loyal client who reached out to me. Do I reach out to them first, or do I reach out to the person who’s screaming, who I might not know as well?
That’s a personal decision, but in a lot of cases, you need to do your prioritization based on what’s most important to you. If it’s serving a really good customer first, then that person has to come first. If somebody else is screaming for service, but they’re new prospects and you have no idea whether or not they can spend a dime with you, you need to decide how that’s going to fall on the prioritization scale. And to the extent possible, if you have help, if you’ve got an administrative assistant who can help with some of that stuff, that’s great.
But prioritization is absolutely key. Is it our best customers? Is it the person with the biggest, most pressing need? Now, biggest and most pressing are also two different things, right? Somebody might have a very pressing need for a very teeny, tiny order. And so if that’s the case, does it make sense for you to step away from what you’re doing with a bigger, more important order or customer to deal with somebody who’s got something smaller in mind.
And once again, you’ve got to make some of these decisions for yourself. But when you recognize that there are different criteria that go into this decision, then it really becomes more of a simple thought process. Because you make those calls for yourself and then you make those decisions accordingly.
And there are always people who are going to have time sensitive projects. So where does that fall into the overall scheme of things? People, you know, say they need stuff tomorrow or they need it immediately. And sometimes that’s the case and sometimes it’s not. So finding those things out is also part of this process.
Jay: Yeah. One of the ways I ‘ve seen this done, kind of what you’re talking about, is identifying where different leads are coming from. So I have leads that are referrals and I have leads that are from Google Ads. And then I’m tracking my close rate on both of those leads, and I’m realizing that the ones that come from referrals or my current database, my close rate is 30%, and from Google it’s 10%.
To me, that’s a great way to be able to identify where you should focus your time.
David: Yeah. And in those situations too, I mean, some people will look at that and say, “well, I got 30% here and 10% there. Let’s forget about that.” But hey, 10% is still 10% right? And if your qualification procedure is tight, and you can disqualify the unqualified as quickly as possible, and I’m sure we’ll talk about that in future podcasts as well, then it makes perfect sense to look at that. Because the 10% that you’re getting from one source might actually perform better than the 30% you’re getting somewhere else, depending on how large a customer it is and what they’re buying. So there are all those different factors involved, and it’s smart. What you’re doing is very smart. Looking at that and trying to make those best decisions based on what’s actually happening in real life, in your customer base, in your prospect base.
Jay: Yeah. Such a great point, because I may be able to close 30% of this type of lead, but I’m only getting three of those a day. And then on the 10% side, I’m getting 20 of those a day, so
Jay: That’s part of that calculation, right?
David: Yeah, 10% of 20 is two. So if you can pick up two customers from it, then, you don’t want to throw that away.
Jay: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I think the other part is you don’t have to ignore those smaller percentages or things. You can have systems to deal with those people. Maybe you put them in a drip program so that they’re still getting contact from you.
There’s other ways you’re not going to just, you know, kiss those people goodbye. You just may have a different way to reach out to them.
David: Absolutely. All right, so we talked about identifying it, well, identifying it first, but then in terms of the 1, 2, 3 of it, filling your pipeline, prioritizing your pipeline, and then tackling it.
So we talked about filling it and prioritizing it. Now, when it gets down to tackling, it’s really just a matter of doing. Once you’ve done your prioritization, once you’ve decided who the next person is, or who’s the first person I need to be in touch with, then it’s a matter of executing on your plan.
So your prioritization is essentially your planning stage. And then tackling it is just about taking action. It’s about doing it. And we’ll be talking about things like call reluctance and things like that in future podcasts. But this whole idea of knowing what to do and not doing it, is rampant.
It seems ridiculous. It’s like, well, who would do that? And the answer is nearly everybody does it. And none of us do it on purpose, but we all, to some extent, end up doing it. It’s like, Well, I know I need to do this, but then something pops up on our radar and we do that. It could be shiny object syndrome. We’ve talked about squirrel before, right?
Squirrel. That was from a movie, right? You had mentioned that in a previous podcast.
Jay: Yeah. That was from Up In Disney’s Up.
David: Right, okay. The dog.
Jay: The dog, yeah.
David: Yeah, and I think we can all relate to that. So it’s like we know what we need to do, but then we get distracted. And so tackling it simply means having the self discipline to, once you’ve made that plan, to stick to that plan. And follow your instincts in that regard, because if you’ve taken the time to identify who needs to be in touch next, then you want to make sure that that’s the person that you’re being in touch with.
It’s very straightforward, but needs to be mentioned because a lot of times it just doesn’t happen. There are probably situations. I know I’ve been in this situation, probably anybody who’s watching this podcast has been in a situation where you’re like, Oh, I really need to call so and so. I really need to get in touch with this person or that person.
And then days go by, or weeks go by, or months go by, and in a lot of cases it’s because you didn’t do step two, you didn’t prioritize it. You didn’t actually put that person on a list, at or near the top of that list where they would be seen, and it could be acted. And once again, going back to what we started out on this, if you’re doing it all in your head, you are going to miss things.
There’s no way you will not miss things. It’s just the way things work. You get it down on paper, you get it into one prioritized list, you organize it, you sort it. You start at the top and work your way through. That’s about the best way that you’re ever going to be able to get these things done. So, the topic that we started out with was monetizing your pipeline.
Now, all we’ve really talked about is filling it and prioritizing it and tackling it, but that’s what leads to the monetization. Because it’s the failure to do those things that puts you in touch with a lot of the wrong people at the wrong time with the wrong words. That leads to non monetization.
So if you really want to monetize your pipeline, you still need to focus on these three things. First, you have to fill it, then you have to prioritize it, and then you have to tackle it and be ruthless about eliminating poor quality prospects.
Jay: Yeah, I totally agree with you. And again, looking at tackling knowing your sales cycle is something that can be critical.
Like if you, if you discover that, if you don’t get back to them in a week, then the close rate goes down. I mean, it depends on what type of business you have, but that timeliness is also something you should study and look at. Because you may learn, if I don’t get back to these customers in 48 hours, then my percentages go way down.
David: Absolutely. I mean, I’ve always maintained that a hot lead is like a hot cup of coffee. It doesn’t get any hotter as a result of neglect. You know, you’ve got to get to it fast. And leads are like that. And I know I’ve made that mistake in my business over the years where something comes in, I get distracted. You follow up later and they’re like, “Oh, I already took care of that.” It’s like, “ugh.”
Now I haven’t done that at all recently, but I know years ago, and in the early stages, I’d just have things falling through the cracks because I didn’t do this consistently, these three things.
When you do it, it works really well. When you don’t, you really pay the price.
Jay: Yeah, absolutely. How do people find out more, David?
David: Well, you can go to TopSecrets.com/call if you’d like to have a call with myself or my team to talk about how you’d like to grow your sales and profits. We can have a strategy session, discuss where you’re struggling, what you’re looking to do, and if we can help, we’ll tell you how we can do that. And if we can’t help, we’ll tell you that too.
So I’d start with that: TopSecrets.com/call.
Jay: All right, Dave, I love it. Thank you so much for joining us today.
David: Thank you, Jay.
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