Two common problems faced by many professional practices are losing track of prospects, and wasting time “selling” to people that aren’t ready to buy. Managing your sales pipeline will help. In some ways the question for this article could be how can I sell more efficiently, but I bet you would be happy to spend more time managing the pipeline – if it got you better results!

Oil pipeline as analogy for the sales pipeline

How can I sell more efficiently?

You want to waste less time on people that are not likely to buy, you want to ensure you keep track of people and not forget to follow up hot prospects.

If you had a series of steps where you tested interest and increased the amount of effort that you put into the sales as you progress,  you would save time.

Examples of this time wasting include:

  • One sales process I was involved with included a 4 day survey which needed to happen to a cruise liner; doing this early helped the implementation speed (after the sale), but doing it early also risked wasting a large amount of time on sales that went nowhere.
  • A more mundane example might be giving somebody two hours of your time as a free consultation only to find that they have no intention of proceeding. How many accountants do yo know that do this?

What are exchanges of commitment in a sales pipeline?

A genuine person will be willing to trade some commitment with you, a “tyre-kicker” won’t. What can you ask them to do?

  • Give 2 years of accounts before you give a free consultation?
  • Complete a questionnaire?
  • Underwrite the cost of the survey, should the sale not go to contract?
  • Provide specific information
  • Commit to meet up

These are all examples of exchanges of commitment that could be appropriate at different stages. That will help you know somebody really is interested rather than wasting time with people who want things for free.

How can I keep track of my sales pipeline?

By helping your prospects go through the same steps you’ll know what the next step is for each prospect and how likely that are to convert. As they make more commitments (and so do you) they are further into the pipeline and more likely to convert.

Collating this information in a simple database, CRM system, or even on a piece of paper will allow you to manage them. Discipline to use it daily will ensure you get the sales.

You might like to read Have you created a sales process for your firm?

What do you do to manage time wasters in your sales pipeline? 

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access

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