I’ll be honest: Most of your professional contacts will never become leads. And most of the leads you now have will fail to become qualified prospects (i.e., leads in whom you invest time and get to know). Why is it that the sales pipeline is so hard to populate? The key issue is often a lack of momentum – that is, there is no momentum from either your side or the prospective customer’s.
Therefore, keeping momentum going in the sales process is essential if you want your organization to grow.
How do we help leads become prospects? Here’s a simple system for you to adopt or adapt (modeled on the sales pipeline we use at Anant).
1. Determine the ultimate decision maker. If you can’t figure out who is actually in charge of cutting checks, your lead is not a prospect. Even if your lead recognizes the value of your product or service, you won’t make any progress in closing a deal unless you know who the key decision maker is.
2. Refine the opportunity. If your sales opportunity is already defined, it’s valuable to keep the ball rolling by aggressively asking insightful questions and pushing to meet more people. Both these to-dos will help get institutional buy-in at the organization you’re targeting.
3. Create and deliver a proposal. A proposal can be as simple as a one-page cost estimate with line items and a total – or a full-fledged professional document spanning as many as 100 pages (depending on complexity).
Once you execute on these three tasks (and tweaking them as you see fit), you’ll be much closer to actually making a deal happen – that is, converting leads into prospects and prospects into clients.