Keep Your Eye on the Pipeline


When looking for new business, many sales organizations shake the trees and see what falls off. That’s not a dependable or prudent sales strategy.

Yet, many businesses actually work this way. They get so focused on closing deals that they forget to keep prospecting. They suddenly find themselves with no pipeline, so they reach out and grab some low-hanging fruit. This kind of sales planning is not sustainable. In fact, it’s just plain stupid.

The problem is that many entrepreneurs and sales leaders set a few sales goals and metrics for the year. They give their reps an annual quota and expect them to make it rain. But they fail to create goals that keep the pipeline full throughout the year.

Take It Week by Week

Your pipeline won’t fill itself, and if you don’t have a sales plan with both long- and short-term goals, it can dry up overnight.

Don’t get me wrong. I dislike planning just as much as the next sales professional. But it’s the old-school planning I hate—page after page of forecasts, analysis, and number crunching. That’s why I suggest keeping it short (just one or two pages). Set your customer and sales goals for each quarter and for the year. Then create manageable weekly goals for yourself and your team.

Your No. 1 Goal: Referrals

The most critical element of your sales plan is the referral-selling goal. When you fully commit to referral selling, invest in a referral training program for your team, and eliminate unproductive prospecting techniques. Your reps will get meetings with prospects who want to meet them, and they’ll convert those leads into new clients more than 50 percent of the time. Even more exciting, with referral selling, you’ll reduce your cost of sales and shorten the time it takes to obtain new clients.

Setting weekly referral-selling goals is easy. Simply decide which clients and referral sources you will call, who you need to thank, and who you haven’t followed up with in a while. Then reach out and ask for those referrals.

Image via Shutterstock

About the Author

Joanne Black
Joanne Black is America’s leading authority on referral selling and a sales executive with contrarian points of view. As the founder of No More Cold Calling™, Joanne works with sales teams to build disciplined and measurable referral programs that enable salespeople to score meetings in the C-Suite, derail the competition, and convert prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time.
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