Sales is often thought of as a dirty word. Yet without sales, your business would cease to exist entirely. In order to capitalize on those sales opportunities that come your way, you must have a process. An effective sales process will grow revenue, raise your profile, and lead to better client relationships that produce referrals. The best way to organize that process is with a sales pipeline.
Few professional services firms have a sales pipeline that is updated religiously after every interaction with a client or prospect and used to track the progression of opportunities. Without such a system, it is inevitable that opportunities will be lost. It is a simple concept but one that is often overlooked.
A sales pipeline helps you manage all of your leads in one place, define clear next steps and forecast new revenue and resourcing requirements. We have observed that firms that use a pipeline with discipline benefit from increased sales through better management of opportunities as well as increased capacity in sales activities as they become more organized and focussed on high priority leads.
Like any pipeline, unless you are constantly putting new opportunities into the front end, it will eventually run dry. Having visibility around the pipeline encourages everyone charged with generating new business to focus on lead generation and to constantly nurture leads through the pipeline.
At any point in time, you should be able to identify what opportunities exist for new work from existing clients and new clients. Each opportunity should have the following attributes associated with it:
The beauty of using software (rather than a spreadsheet or the back of an envelope) is that it enables you to report on the sales pipeline and hold individuals accountable for their pipeline. It will also help you plan marketing activities to ensure the pipeline is constantly replenished.
Never underestimate the importance of retaining focus on your sales pipeline. Without this discipline, much of the good work you may have put in to develop sales processes in your firm will likely be wasted.
About the Author
Colin DunnDirector & Co-founder at PANALITIX
Colin is a Chartered Accountant who, having spent almost 10 years with one of the fastest growing and most innovative firms in the UK, has since invested over 20 years helping business owners to improve their businesses with a focus on attracting new clients, better managing existing clients, developing new products, building an engaged team and strengthening internal business processes.
Colin's primary focus at PANALITIX is on product development and business improvement content. He is the author of the bestselling book “Accountants: The Natural Trusted Advisors".