Do you know your 2019 number yet? Can you guess? For many sales managers, new targets for the year ahead are often larger than the previous year.
Now the questions you need to ask are, whether your team are equipped to hit this target? What is the state of your pipeline as you prepare to go into the new year?
To assess your pipeline as it stands, you need to know the following:
How many deals are there and what are they worth?
How likely are a percentage going to convert?
Have they been qualified well and is your team following-up with them proactively?
How many new deals are entering the pipeline every month (new business and account management) and how long does it take for a percentage of them move from an initial conversation to a conversion?
At the end of this exercise, you should have a much clearer idea how healthy - or not - your 2019 pipeline is. Don’t worry if you’ve not got as many deals flowing in as you need to kick-start 2019 with a bang. There is still time to generate new business before the end of 2018.
4 Steps to improve your 2019 pipeline
#1: Work backward from your goal
Firstly, look again at your 2019 target. Break that number down into quarters.
When you think about this number, use CRM data to estimate your usual conversion rate over a 12 month period, and the time it usually takes to convert a new account. Now you should be able to roughly estimate how many conversations your team should be having in January to hit target early in the year.
Are there enough new business conversations going on in the CRM to get you close to that number?
If not, there are more than a few ways to get those deals you need in the pipeline.
#2: Ask for referrals
Generating more revenue from an existing customer is always going to be easier than winning a brand new client.
When it comes to sourcing new business, it’s worth going through this network first. New clients are more likely to trust you when your company has been recommended by those in their network.
Is your team actively asking for referrals from every client? If not, now is the time to start. Ask for referrals. Ask for recommendations. Turn your clients into brand ambassadors every step of the way. Assuming clients are looked after well and are happy with the service you provide, there is no reason why most - if not all - would refuse to refer other companies your way.
#3: Tap untapped prospects
Businesses everywhere are sitting on pools of untapped prospects.
From business cards collected at networking events and expos, to our LinkedIn connections and list of other companies that are members of the same organisations, most sales professionals encounter more prospects than they realize. Now is the perfect time to start reaching out to some of these.
Another way to source viable prospects is to start creating databases of companies similar to some of your clients. Look at those in the same sector, even the same geographic region. It makes it easier for them to reference one another. A self-referential marketplace is a strong driver of growth. As a way of generating new business, this can be very effective, especially when you are looking at getting more leads into your pipeline over a short timescale.
#4: Don’t waste an opportunity
When you need to generate new business, speed and time is everything. Although you can’t control how soon a prospect replies, you can control how quickly proposals are sent out and when meetings are arranged.
Another way to accelerate the sales cycle is to jump on a live demo call when a prospect indicates interest. Providing they’ve got the time, what better way to demonstrate how your solution can solve challenges they’re dealing with than through an exploratory consultative instant demo call? This way, you can qualify the prospect more quickly, they can ask the questions they need and it should reduce the time it takes to get a decision.
For any business, getting enough prospects in the pipeline for the year ahead is a challenge. Sales teams are so focused on hitting this quarter and year’s number that it can be easy to forget about the quarter and the year ahead. The last thing you want is to go into 2019 with an empty pipeline. It can make hitting that target somewhat more difficult. Following these four simple steps should give you a new influx of prospects and orders from the accounts you’re managing.