Building a sales funnel is simple.
Not always guaranteed to be easy, but it is always simple.
It requires time, effort and a discerning diligence around what ‘good’, ‘great’ and ‘average’ looks like.
But apart from that, it’s a process. Will predictable inputs and associated sustainable outputs.
It’s a controlled process, so you can test and experiment, but essentially a good sales person sticks to the same process because it gives the results!
Because it relies on a basic formula…which is the building block of selling!
A basic sales system, that when used consistently builds a sales funnel that houses a super efficient sales pipeline…that allows you to confidently create and accurate and solid sales forecasts
Which means you earn commission!
Sales Funnel vs Sales Pipeline – What’s the Difference?
Thought I’d better make this clear before we go on…
Now, you’ll see lots of marketers talk about a Sales Funnel as something the build to attract prospects, so assuming that you’re on this page because you’re in sales and you want to build your own sales funnel 9perhaps to supplement what your getting from your company) then this is how we’ll define our sales funnel.
It’s the sales lead generation machine YOU have that feeds YOUR sales pipeline. In here you can house details of people you’ve seen on linked in, in the local press, from Google alerts, from business cards you’ve picked up at an event, from referrals, to your target prospect list, your dream/cream/bread and butter clients…your sales funnel contains anyone you think should/could buy from you.
Feeding Your Sales Funnel is Step 1 in Building Highly Qualified Sales Funnels
Your sales funnel / sales lead generation machine feeds your sales pipeline which sits inside your CRM.
So having populated your sales funnel as above, now you have to work it hard to start to carve the contents into those opportunities you can progress and those that are just not engaging with you at all. Every day, your sole focus is to dip into that sales funnel and build from it qualified leads. These are people who want to buy what you are selling or alternatively…haven’t spurned your approaches to sell to them!
Critical because your sales pipeline is a record of all your high quality, well qualified sales prospects who you’ve engaged with.
Your sales funnel is a bespoke sales qualification process that you put your sales prospects through.
Depending on your sales prospect’s responses during that sales qualification process, you’ll classify them within your sales pipeline – usually based on time and where they are in their buyer journey…either ready to buy or still evaluating or still collecting information and short listing. It’s based on time because your sales pipeline typically informs your super accurate sales forecast
If you want to know more about how sales qualification at different stages in the sales funnel and sales pipeline check out the link
So, to summarise…
Sales Funnel / Sales Lead Generation System > Sales Pipeline > Sales Forecast
When it comes to qualifying sales leads and engaging with cold sales prospects much time, money and effort is wasted on activities that don’t produce positive results.
And that’s maybe ok when you’re starting out, opening anew territory, launching a new product, but if you’re operating in a continuing situation where you’re working blind in terms of lead generation then you’re wasting a crazy amount of time effort and good will.
Find out how to get out of that crazy state by checking out Your Sales Recipe here
Fortunately, for you, to help you build a first class sales funnel and remove the bulk of the risk for you, there is a way to get a much larger return on investment on your sales prospecting time and lead generation efforts, and create a steady stream of high converting sales prospects.
High converting sales prospects that fall out of your sales funnel and in to your sales pipeline…read for you to move to your sales forecast
Like I said, building a sales funnel, it’s simple, not easy!
First Rule of Good Sales Planning
First thing to understand is – building a sales funnel is the key foundation for any and all success in sales.
If you’re not working your sales funnel, you are doomed!
You’ll be forever trying to:
- Squeeze sales opportunities out of nothing.
- Selling to the same old names and faces, or at least trying to.
- Seeing your sales forecast crumble every month – constantly kicking forward the same old names (who’ve let you down before!)
You’ll be left with a sales pipeline that has no chance at all of ever being able to give you enough business to hit your sales quota, your sales goals, sales KPI’s or sales targets…
(As a quick note – you should look to have at least X4 your sales target for the month, in your sales target for the same month – find out more here – How to Always Hit Your Sales Target.)
So, one final point on WHY having a finely tuned sales funnel is vital if you expect to do well in sales, without the stress and long hours…
Failure to build an intelligent sales funnel…it’s the same as you farming the same field every season, at some point you’ll strip the earth of all the nutrients for this crop…diminishing returns that will take months/years to recover from (if you keep your job long enough)
It’s a fact, skills and product/service aside, I believe that building a sales funnel that delivers regular doses of well qualified high quality sales prospects and potential customers into your sales pipeline is the single most important activity in any sales team.
Maybe, in the entire business.
Because if this isn’t done, then nothing else can get done either!
Now, thinking of building a sales funnel, there are two big realities that lots of sales people struggle with:
1. sales people typically hate interrupting prospects who aren’t expecting the call, haven’t expressed and interest in the product/service…which means that
2. they’ll chase any vague lead that’s even remotely interested in what they have to say, rather than focus on building a strong value proposition for a Perfect Prospect, to engage the lead that may be elusive, but who is a perfect fit for what your business has to deliver…
Do you recognise that behaviour in your team?
Stop Wasting Your Sales Efforts
The only questions you need to ask when chasing business so that you get a first rate sales funnel to support a valuable sales pipeline are:
- Is this good quality business?
- Is there a fit between the prospect’s challenge and what we offer?
- Do I have a case study or two, with proven return on investment to impress?
- Can I/ we deliver this solution better than anyone else out there?
Once you’ve asked those questions, here’s 10 ways to stop you from building a sales funnel that might look big but doesn’t produce anything…and you’ll see why building a sales funnel is the fastest way to consistent sales success.
BUILDING HIGHLY QUALIFIED SALES FUNNELS THAT CONVERTS
1. Don’t Chase Every Prospect
Be very, very specific about the prospects you pursue and the prospects you court.
Not all prospects are created equally.
Some will give you big orders once per annum, some with give you smaller orders every month, some will use your business when your competitors have ceased to provide them with credit, some prospects will be using you only if you’re the cheapest, some prospects will allow you to gateway into bigger groups and other referral opportunities, some will not…
Pick your prospect with care…
You can also check you’re talking to the right decision maker – ask yourself, does this prospect have the budget, authority, need and urgency to make a purchase….if he does great.
If he doesn’t then maybe there is more work to do
2. Know 6 Things Before You Start Prospecting
You need to decide:
What’s the target prospect’s job function? I mean the job that they do, what they’re responsible for, and what they’re not responsible for…
What’s their pain/problem?
What are the consequences and fall out from having that problem?
What are the consequences of them not solving that problem?
How can you solve their problem BETTER than anyone else?
Can you prove that you can solve that problem better than anyone else?
(If you can’t solve a problem you KNOW they have, walk away.
In fact, RUN!)
3. Research, Research, Research
In fact you can never research enough. If the prospect is worth the chase then it’s worth spending some time doing your research.
Doing sales research on a prospect you’re not dying to work with is just stupid. Don’t do it.
I like total immersion as a concept – find out everything.
But, most of all, find out about what their aims, ambitions, drivers are and align your approach to speak to those drivers…it’s your prospect’s agenda you’re following, not your own.
4. Who Do You Know?
First port of call should always be…who do know that could make the introduction for you?
If you’re working a vertical market or you’re in a geo specific area then you know most sectors are fairly well connected…can you benefit from that?
If not, do you have a big name in the same sector as your prospect who might provide a testimonial or act as a case study?
Let’s be honest here – you’re presumably chasing some big fry sales opportunities and equally large sales prospects – winging it just won’t cut it.
Don’t think it will so…
5. Get Creative
You’ve got to distinguish your approach from the dozen plus prospectors doing exactly the same as you…plus the dozen or so prospects from associated industries.
What makes you different?
Different in what you have to offer….I mean really different, uniquely different
Different in how you engage…are you going to be one of the many in the prospector queue or are you going straight to the top?
It’s your choice and surprisingly easy to circumvent the crowds…
By far the easiest way is to let your past results speak for you.
You own those results.
No-one else can lay claim to them.
No-one else can slap their brand on them.
Those results belong to you and you alone.
6. Meeting Them in Their Playground
Don’t expect your prospect to come to you. Go play in their sandpit.
Might be a forum, may be a LinkedIn group, might be a networking group, could be an exhibition/trade show, could be a corporate event…
Get out their, get properly social, instead of just a social stalker…
It might be a like, a share, a thoughtful comment, a recommendation, a referral to them…
7. Stop Thinking Like a Sales Person
And start thinking like a problem solver.
Stop thinking about what you can sell them and start thinking about what problems you can solve for them.
How can you help them?
How can you deliver such value that they WANT to engage with you?
That means any approach you make at the prospecting stage is not an opportunity for you to sell.
It’s an opportunity to display your expert insight and skills as a peer.
Any contact is to evoke curiosity and build trust.
So, you’re an equal from the beginning.
Suppliers they’ll have plenty of.
BUT a peer advisor with expert insight into helping them solve this particular issue is a different matter.
It’s a big head change for you…but it pays short and long term dividends.
8. Don’t Compromise
You could get chatting with all the referrers and influencers because you’re getting knocked back by the main decision maker’s gate keeper.
That’s the same as being in the eternal holding pen…tough to get out and full of too many of your competitors…but it’s also a great protection plan.
Keep these people on your sales radar and definitely stay on their’s BUT don’t fall into the trap on ONLY doing that!
Agendas change your role is to find the person within the influencing/referrer cohort who is sufficiently invested to help you get where you need to be and with who you need to be!
But beware…starting too low down the decision making food chain can cost you years…
9. Be Different
The first skill is in attracting the prospect’s attention, getting on their radar. I like email, I like LinkedIn, I like doing my research so a two line email gets a response and a click to accept my invitation to connect.
I don’t like 3 paragraph emails, corporate brochures, slide shows in introduction emails.
Your prospect doesn’t know you.
Don’t waste their time, it’s not a great first impression.
Two lines! Especially as most people will read your message on a very small screen!
10. Be Brief
Get 2 minutes on the telephone with your target prospect! T
hat’s all you need. The longer the telephone conversation the greater the chance of it not ending in an agreement to meet.
Why Building Highly Qualified Sales Funnels and Pipelines is SO IMPORTANT.
This is the very core of new business development.
You might thing it’s just cold calling.
It’s not JUST cold calling.
It’s the beautiful beating heart of your sales efforts.
If you do think it’s just cold calling then check out this article – What Your Buyer Wished You Knew Before You Called Him
Building a sales funnel to deliver the right type of customers and clients at the rate and value you need is the single most important thing you can do to solidify your sales performance.
A sales pipeline of high value, well qualified, high converting prospects is something sales people around the world dream off.
BUT the truth is that it’s available to all who choose to employ their time and skills
It’s a crucial factor in sales success. Critical because building a sales funnel means you need to be smart. Super smart if you want to ensure you get the right type of prospects.
Chase every prospect and you’ll be forever chasing.
And you will have entered cold calling hell! Sure it works. But at what cost to your soul, your mental state and your self respect?
Make sure you have a solid sales funnel.
Full of well qualified high value, high converting sales prospects then you can chase whatever you like.
You’ll have a strong base that will protect you, our sanity, your business, your performance, your pay check and your reputation.
Plus, building a sales funnel like this, where you carefully select who enters the sales pipeline and who doesn’t, well that’s a huge asset, now and for the rest of your working life.
That’s one hell of an address book….and a killer skill set!
Stop thinking about building a sales funnel as a short term activity. You’re building your sales asset.
You sales self will thank you for it…so don’t cut corners. Building a sales funnel today is the key to tomorrow’s success.
If you want additional insight into how to build a sales funnel to deliver on your sales goals – check out The Sales Improvement Workshop
So, now, ask yourself…
What can you do differently with regard to building a sales funnel that works for you, helps you deliver on your short and long term sales goals as well as creating customers at a predictable rate and profit?
Building a sales funnel requires as much focus and effort as taking the sales prospect through the sales pipeline to order
And if you’re not sure how good your business is at doing just that, check out the Morton Kyle Sales Audit.
You get a diagnostic report, 30 Day Action Plan and a Sales Leakage Report, all within one week, so you can really get to work on ensuring your sales process is effective and efficient.
The quality of prospects in that sales funnel and sales pipeline is a direct indicator of future sales and business success.
Building a sales pipeline that’s high quality, well qualified, full of target prospects that convert easily may seem like hard work, but it’s nothing compared to dragging poor fit prospects through a sales process they shouldn’t be in!
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