How your Pipeline can help you answer this question.
If you’ve ever been asked “How’s business?” you’ll know that simple question can get the heart pumping. If you dread answering this question, you need to look at your sales pipeline. If you don’t have one, here’s why you need one.
Your sales today are the result of your pipeline last month. Your sales next month (or over the next 6 months or one year) will be a reflection of the health of your pipeline today.
Regardless of the type of business you have, your pipeline is whatever structure you have in place to attract and qualify leads, then move them through to the buying process to become a customer.
The main idea of having a pipeline is to give you a future view of what’s going to happen in your business. This only works if you keep on top of it – keep looking ahead, look at what’s happening now and what you need to do.
Some of you will have a shorter pipeline, and others a longer one. For example, a benchtop manufacturer will have a shorter pipeline compared to a new home builder where there can often be several month or more to get a customer into a meeting and then agree on a plan then to make an initial payment.
It can be so easy for business owners to focus on the present and forget to keep looking ahead. We all do it. If we have a few large customers its easy to let the business ride on those ones to get us through. Are you prepared if something suddenly happens to those businesses and they can no longer be your ideal customer?
A healthy pipeline is your indicator to what you will be doing in six months.
This article from Entrepreneur sums it up perfectly by saying:
Businesses with large projects are especially vulnerable to client change and can easily come unstuck if a project finishes earlier than expected. If your business concentrates on a few large customers, that’s okay so long as you’re constantly attracting and qualifying new potential customers, continuing to grow existing customers, approaching new customers and following up with previous customers.
In other words – you’ve got to keep being proactive about your sales and the health of your sales pipeline. What you ideally want, is a couple of customers waiting in the wings, so that if a project finishes early, you’ve got someone else to slot into that space.
There are so many things we can tell you about why you need look at your pipeline, the benefits of having one, but here’s a few things you need to think about and continuously look at for any business:
- Are you getting new enquiries?
- How are you getting new enquiries?
- How far ahead do you have to work to complete a job?
- Then what will you do to find new work?
- What will alert you when things make a downturn?
- Do you know what jobs you have coming up?
- What is booked and what are the opportunities?