Keeping The Funnel Full

You’re on a roll and you’re closing some deals. You’re feeling great about your success, your job and especially your paycheque. After some well-deserved rewards and recognition, you suddenly realise your prospect funnel is on the lower side of empty. It’s time to buckle down.

This situation happens to most of us in sales at some point or other and represents the crests and the troughs of the sales business. So how do you choose to fill your funnel? How do top class companies maintain their success?

Prospecting is obviously a critical element to sales success. Unless you have that product, service or idea that everybody wants and your phone continually rings off the hook with orders then it’s a necessary task. In my business, prospecting comes in different forms. Unless you reach out to numerous people seeking conversations that hopefully lead to meetings, qualified prospects and then closed business, it’s going to be a tough go.

Cold calling is the most obvious method. It may not really be anyone’s favourite thing to do, but important nonetheless. Ten, 20 even 50 calls per day depending on your type of business and success rate for getting appointments, if that’s your end goal. Some salespeople rely solely on this method and over time build very nice books of business that begin to drive referrals.

Networking is another great way to help fill the funnel. Networking is as effective as you make it – if you attend an event and spend the duration talking to friends, chances are you’re not going to drive much new activity. Treat it as a process – try and speak with the event organiser beforehand to get a list of attendees. Then target a handful of individuals with whom you wish to have a conversation and make that your purpose for being there. Obviously you want to connect with any of your customers in the room, but set your goal for new connections and make it happen.

Another way to drive activity is “free talks”. You clearly know your business better than most so it’s safe to assume that many could learn something from hearing about it. In our business it’s an opportunity to present or better yet “workshop” a particular topic that would be relevant to the participants you’ve invited. A great opportunity to speak with a number of new contacts that also appreciate the chance to network with the other participants.

Anneli Thomson, Managing Director, Sandler Training in Oxford