#5: Never Neglect Your PipelineReading Time: 3 minutes
Your current customers or clients ALWAYS come first.
But that next prospect should always be in your head, heart, and screen.
For those founders and business owners who are newbies, here’s a simple definition of pipes and how they differ from platforms.
Technology (including a vast array of CRM and automated lead-generation systems) has automated the business development function, and that’s a great thing on some level. It enables a steady flow of leads and prospects into your business stream.
But don’t forget the human aspect of marketing and sales. Small businesses shouldn’t rely exclusively on tech-centric funnels, pipes, and platforms to scale their businesses.
I think about all those clients I’ve built relationships with over the past 18 years that led to high-quality marketing projects. They didn’t simply splash into my lap. I met them on the beach (not literally, although I have connected with new business prospects in restaurants, at a farmers’ market, and through friends and colleagues).
This article was published in 2012, long before Malcolm Gladwell published “Talking to Strangers” (see below).
At various times over the past 18 years, I’ve become so consumed by current work that I ignored the pipeline. That’s a formula for disaster. When work subsides, you then have to scramble to find that next big project or client.
- Treat business development as a priority 24/7/365
- Balance customer service (80% of your focus) with new sales if you’re a business leader. Hire the right people to keep the “fire stoked” while you go out to hunt.
- Create a clear and specific definition of your ideal client or customer, invest in persona research, and build your marketing plan around the media and messages that will appeal to them.
- Automate lead generation, but don’t become one of those SPAMMY companies that connect with hundreds of people on LinkedIn and then send them dispassionate cookie-cutter sales messages. Use technology to scale and build a sales process, but don’t forget that human beings are still making most of the decisions.
- Building on #4…if you’re buying lead-generation technology or engaging a “funnel expert” to develop your sales process, be sure to work with people who truly understand your business and your ideal client. Lots of people today are selling “systems” but your next customer will never say, “Wow…I really liked that funnel…I’m going to invest in that product/service/company!” If you don’t have a unique selling proposition, even the best CRM won’t grow your business.
As you map out your 2022 plan, put some focus on biz dev — your target customer, your sales goals, and the appropriate tech and process that will ultimately help you fill that pipeline with QUALITY leads (and ultimately customers). Don’t flood your pipeline with toxic waste!
|A great intro to lead-gen technologies. (Warning, a bot on the site will attempt to converse with you.)
|Malcolm Gladwell’s book — Talking to Strangers|
|What’s a “junk lead?”|
|How to make time for biz dev. Although I found this on a legal site, it’s spot-on for any industry!|