International Business

Filling the Sales Funnel

Any small business owner knows all about the need to keep the sales funnel full, and the pain that comes if it dries up.

The “sales lead funnel” is the phrase used for the methodology employed to take a person from the initial cold call stage right through to the first (and hopefully repeat) orders being placed. We all know that not everyone you or your sales team speaks to will buy from you so if your funnel isn’t full, neither will your pipeline be!

The old saying goes that, on average, you have to make 10 calls to get 1 sale! However if you don’t have 10 irons in the fire none of them will get hot and the funnel will dry up.

There are a few things you need to think about in order to improve your sales success rate. Today we’re going to take a look at three basic selling tips that are critical in order to keep your funnel full:

First: Make sure you don’t lose any leads. Keep name, telephone numbers and email addresses in a system that you can quickly and easily access … and don’t ever throw a lead away, you never know when your sales will depend on being able to contact that person.

Second: Determine your sales pitch. You don’t have to be the pushy, hard-core salesman; you just have to understand the value of a lead. So much of your selling style depends on your industry, your needs and your personality. However, a process is required to take a person from initial contact through to a successful sale. Sit and think about how to handle objections, how to defer a no today to a maybe in six months time and how to mention something that connects with the contact. Only by having a system, trying it out, tweaking it and retrying it can your sales conversions improve. Remember to assign your leads with the future lifetime value they could have for you, only then will you treat them in a way that will connect and resonate with them.

Third: Convert your lead from being a suspect to a prospect and then through to being a loyal customer. There is only one way to do this, follow up relentlessly! You or your sales team need to be there when your prospect decides it’s time to buy. If you aren’t in regular contact you won’t be top of mind when the buying decision is ready to be made and they’ll have forgotten about you and go to whoever is convenient or whoever called on them the day before. Get to know your leads so that you understand them at a more personal level, then connect with them one on one and look for ways to give them something of perceived value for free. That way they’ll feel indebted to you and feel more receptive to your buying signals in future.

Selling and the sales process is one of those challenging areas in small businesses that are fraught with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. At The Small Business Toolbox we know this and that’s why we’ve focused on getting our next programme, The Small Business Sales Toolbox, underway. Stay tuned it’ll be going live in time to set your sales strategy and sales targets for 2010!

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