By Cliff Kiel, Purchasing Power’s National Vice President of Sales. Connect: 

It’s a fact: future sales growth is completely dependent on what’s in the pipeline. And as salespeople, we often have empty pipelines or ones filled with the wrong opportunities. So what can we do to have better quality pipelines?

In her March 12th Employee Benefit Adviser article, Wendy Keneiff suggests that you fill your pipeline with the right opportunities by being purposeful about finding prospects using the merits of your work and knowledge. She offers two tips for doing that – filling your pipeline with client referrals and adding to your pipeline with the right marketing activities.

Keneiff recommends the following exercise to obtain viable client referrals. Divide all your clients into three categories based on strength of relationship:

Tier one: You have a great relationship and know you’ve done a great job.

Tier two: You have a decent relationship, but feel you could strengthen it.

Tier three: The relationship is a struggle.

  • For tier one clients, write down what you’ve done for them. It’s a great confidence boost to see that you have actually earned the opportunity to ask for referrals. Next, do some research to find out who they know: review their LinkedIn connections, the organizations they belong to, and their business neighbors. Then, approach these clients with the names of the people they know who fit your target client profile and for whom you’d like an introduction.
  • For tier two clients, determine what you need to do to strengthen the relationship, and go do it. Then move them to tier one.
  • For tier three clients, determine the problem and either fix it by addressing it head-on or choose to move on.

Another great way to get the right prospects in your pipeline is with activities targeted to prospective clients who recognize and appreciate your knowledge. Keneiff’s article suggests:

  • Writing educational articles for local business publications and publishing them on LinkedIn.
  • Holding educational sessions for 5-10 clients of your attorney, accountant and banker.
  • Organizing CFO discussion groups to explore alternative funding or examine complex ACA issues. Invite five clients, and ask each to bring a peer. Hold multiple sessions focusing on like-sized businesses.

This is prime prospecting season right now. Summer will soon have people distracted with weather and vacations, and then we’ll be approaching the last quarter of the year. This is head-down prospecting time!

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