Thanksgiving in the USA is November 27th this year. Just like turkey producers have been filling the grocery stores to sell more turkeys, professional salespeople need to fill their sales pipeline to continue to convert leads to customers or clients. How does the stuffing of the bird compare to the stuffing of a sales pipeline?
. Prepare Stuffing Safely
Preparing turkey stuffing is like preparing yourself with product knowledge, people skills and sales ability. Additionally you have to add your attitude, your actions and your self-confidence. The stuffing, the professional salesperson, takes time to get all characteristics in line and in integrity for the process to be successful. Its important to be in total integrity with all your actions or your stuffing, or else the filling of your pipeline will be sabotaged. This just might be the step to hire a coach.
2. Stuff Loosely
Stuffing a turkey is like adding leads to your sales funnel: too much dressing and it overflows and burns. In the selling process, prospects can drop out of the sales funnel at any stage. Potential clients go from a large number of initially interested persons, on to the narrow end with a smaller number of the initially interested people who will actually buy.
3. Cook Immediately
After you have a fair number of prospects to get to know, there will be some that are ready to buy sooner than others. How many times must you call a prospect for the right timing? Assuming that everything falls into place when you call them, and the pain is so bad you are in the right place at the right time, how prepared are you? As a sales professional, design a system that allows you to stay in touch with each true prospect.
4. Use a Food Thermometer
If you have too many non-qualified leads in your funnel, you can have an overflow, but not enough sales results. Yes, the funnel looks full, but you need to take the temperature of leads to decide when they are someone to spend time with. In difficult economic times people change their buying or decision-making style and the timeline may be longer. When economic times are thriving, the timeline may be shorter. Regardless of the economy, research from SiriusDecisions finds that sales of more complex solutions of any type in the business to business sector, has on average a 22% longer selling cycle, and 3.5 more people involved in the buying process. Whether its the economy or the complexity of the sale, it is critical to steadily fill the pipeline.
5. Let It Rest
Just like your turkey stuffing, you put together the right mix of marketing ingredients to attract prospects to you. Your sales assessment of the prospects needs and wants helps guide your time with them so that when they are ready to move along in the sales process, you are ready to guide them to a decision point to buy. There comes a time a client still may need to think it over or talk it over. While you may want to get a decision when you are ready, at times you have to follow-up and rest. Rest doesnt mean stop in sales. Rest means to allow for a short break and recharge with planned, purposeful follow-up.
6. Refrigerate Promptly
With proper follow-up, customers do say, Yes, Im ready. Of course many times the seller needs to prompt the yes by asking for a decision. In follow-up with valid and personal business reasons, salespeople continue to build trust. Always be ready also to continue to ask to move forward with your product or service. That is a sales professionals role.
Many turkey recipes dont go on to say eat and enjoy! In sales, its important to stop and recognize each success. While disputed by sales coaches and trainers, sales always was, and always will be, a numbers game. Numbers are as important to the sales pipeline as stuffing is to a turkey dinner.