As a business owner, you are always worried about the sales pipeline. If there is too much in there, you worry you will win them all and then how will you do all of that work? 🙂 Maybe that is just my dream worry! The other side of it is more likely, you are worried there isn’t enough in the pipeline to keep your team busy, pay your bills, allow you to reach your projected growth, etc. Here are the things that I’ve learned over the last 15+ years as a small business owner.
AwarenessIt is easy to get sidetracked when running a business. There is always a problem to solve and you can’t manage everything – so you delegate. Putting someone else in sales is great but you still need to have an awareness of the leads, projections, revenue streams, and goals. Every time you ask your sales team how it’s going, they are going to say, “Good.”. Take the time to dive in and ask about specifics. Help drive the conversation on how to overcome objections and close the deal. You also need to know the length of your sales cycle so you can plan and project correctly. Finally, don’t be afraid to get out and pound the pavement yourself.
PerspectiveI always joke with my team that I live 2 weeks in the future because that is always my focus. I’m working to close deals, finish project logistics, manage the schedules, and the cash flow of what is needed 2 weeks from now. To some this may seem like long-term planning, to others a very short-sighted view and they would both be right! I’ve found that focusing on that area is a good place for me in my business but that doesn’t mean I’m not worried about today or miss having my eye on the yearly projections, last year comparisons, and everything in the middle. I love numbers so it is easy for me to lose my days working through the data but I’ve found a good way to focus on the near term and keep my checkpoints short but relevant so I can learn and move on.
Our work tends to be cyclical and although I can’t identify a yearly pattern, I do know that things will ebb and flow throughout the year, every year. It is tough to focus on sales when you are busy but motivation can be low when times are slow so when is sales really at its best? We’ve found that trying to keep sales (and marketing) constant throughout the year goes a long way to keeping the wheel turning. We work to set up goals, rewards, event attendance, and lead communication to encourage us to keep our eye on the ball. We also work to use our slow time to future-post things so they don’t get lost when we are busy.
While all the above is well and good and probably things you already know, you need to have some tips and tricks to help keep things on track.
We frequently work with corporate clients that need organization so that their video content can be consistent and effective. We create content or editorial calendars, set monthly or quarterly filming dates, and really work to help them be proactive instead of reactive. No one wants to see another email newsletter or blog post starting off with, “Sorry it’s been awhile…”!
We’ve also found that many companies work in silos and therefore don’t have communication between departments, this can be marketing and sales, or various product teams that are all working with video vendors with a sliding scale of success. We sit down with all of these department heads (together!) and talk about how we can get organized on the company’s needs and be effective with content for all. This saves time, money and headaches for everyone while providing cohesive messaging on the company’s behalf, which really makes a statement.
Who are the key people that bring you sales? They might be generated from someone not on your sales team. It could be a very well-connected, happy client, an agency that brings you work, or even your website. We’ve set up hundreds of videos as sales tools for companies to use on their website, in their email communication, or pitch meetings. This gives you a 24/7 salesperson delivering the perfect pitch right when someone needs it and a trackable ROI.
Leave Your Desk
This is the hardest one for me. When we are busy, I forget to leave the office and go talk to people! The majority of our work comes from online searches or word of mouth. The more people that know of you and your company, the more likely someone in those circles will need your service.
While there is no magic wand to wave and be constantly busy with perfect sales projects and growth, hopefully this post will spark some ideas on how you can work to set your sales pipeline up for success.