Four Keys to Better Pipeline Management

The sales pipeline is a useful tool for a professional advertising salesperson who wants to start making more money more quickly.

The term sales pipeline is used to describe a set of stages that a potential new customer passes through as you try to sell them some advertising on your Radio station. The sales pipeline should not be confused with the pipeline report, which illustrates the value and quantity of all of the deals you have in each stage of the pipeline at the time of the report.

Unlike the sales pipeline, which focuses on the actions you need to take with each company, the sales funnel represents the quantity and conversion rates you achieve throughout the pipeline.

You, as a professional advertising salesperson, should learn the fundamentals of B2B selling and recognize the value of using a pipeline. Your pipeline is your roadmap to making more money. Without a plan, you could be missing profitable opportunities. Over time, poor pipeline management can also cause inaccurate sales forecasting, and your revenue and commissions will suffer.

Here are Four Keys to Better Pipeline Management.

Key #1 – Embrace the Purpose of the Sales Pipeline

Don’t look at the pipeline as something your manager wants you to do. It is in your best interest to eagerly embrace the pipeline and work it to your best ability. If you don’t work your pipeline, chances are, your competitor will beat you to that new customer and sell them before you do.

Your sales pipeline is the leading indicator of your future success or failure. As a leading indicator, your pipeline can tell you today if you have enough sales activity to reach your sales goals. You don’t have to wait until next month to see yourself missing the sales goal. Look at your pipeline today, consider the number of leads and your conversion rates, if they are insufficient, take the action steps required today to reach your sales goal next month.

Key #2 – Master Each Stage of Your Pipeline

While every Radio station will have a unique sales process, the stages of any sales pipeline are very similar. The most common stages are:

  • Prospecting
  • Qualifying
  • Meeting
  • Presenting
  • Closing
  • Service

Standard terms in pipeline management are lead, prospect, and customer.

At first, a potential new customer is just a lead because you only have a name. The company becomes a prospect if you can get an appointment with the decision-maker, ascertain they have the means to buy the advertising and your Radio station is a good fit. The prospect becomes a customer when they sign the contract. 

Key#3 – Manage Your Sales Funnel Like an Air Traffic Controler

Planes far away from the airport are like leads; they are scattered all around the airport. The air traffic controller contacts the pilot to determine the pilot’s intentions. The air traffic controller qualifies the plane. If the flight is heading to another airport, the air traffic controller hands off the plane to another controller.

If the flight is headed to the controller’s airport, the controller assigns the flight a unique identifier and sends the flight to a navigation waypoint for further instructions. In sales, you have qualified the lead, and you have an appointment to present.

The most important aircraft for the air traffic controller is the one next to land. The air traffic controller must safely guide the plane to a landing. In your world, this is called closing the sale.

In each step of the process, the air traffic controller gives more attention to each flight as it nears the airport. You must do the same. You must learn to manage your time properly with each new opportunity based on their location within your sales pipeline.

Key #4 – Move it Forward or Move it Off Your List

If you can’t make progress with your new lead, take it off your account list. The pipeline is not a warehouse for accounts that you hope will someday buy some advertising. Companies in your pipeline are not making you any money until they exit the pipeline as a new customer. Don’t wait for your sales manager to move the account. If you can’t get an appointment within the first ten days with the new lead, that is an indication the lead is not receptive to your outreach. Either step up your effort and skill or move that lead off your list and pick up a new one.

If you can’t close the sale within sixty days, that is an indication that the prospect still has concerns you haven’t been able to satisfy. Either step up your effort and skill or move that prospect off your list and move a lead forward.

Remember, leads and prospects don’t earn you any money until they become a customer. The whole purpose of a sales pipeline is to help you systematically move companies into your customer column. That’s when you’ll start earning the kind of money you deserve.

Let me know if I can help.

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