Feeding the Beast - The Importance of the Sales Pipeline

The ultimate aim for any organization is to make ‘sales’. You may well be providing educational support for girls in Ethiopia, helping clients work through their marriage difficulties, or even selling hand-made jewelry, but the end goal is the same. Money.

Sometimes it’s hard to think about it that way if you’ve been concentrating on helping people.

But here’s the rub; while you’re busy getting girls into schools, putting marriages back together and delivering products to happy customers, someone needs to be out there looking for the next batch of customers. And when you’re a small business, it’s really hard to do when you’re super busy servicing clients and can’t even spare five minutes to take out the trash. But if continually feeding your sales pipeline isn’t a priority, you won’t need to worry too much about the $$ because eventually they’ll dry up.

What to do?

It’s kind of like saving for retirement. You need to start somewhere, even if it’s just a little at first. If your business is going great guns, I’d suggest allocating 15-20% of your resources to lead generation. Because you never know when your best client is going to jump ship or no longer require your services.

If you’re trundling along with just about enough business, but could really use more, I’d go for 25-30% of your resources being used for advertising, content development, and other marketing activities to generate leads.

And if you’re just getting started, or your business is floundering for one reason or another, you need to be looking at 50-70% of your resources being put towards making sales. Jeremy Ellens, Co-Founder of Yazamo, recounts a story of being told to spend 70% of his time making sales in his first year of business. He didn’t believe his business coach, at first. Now he openly promotes the same strategy.

What does that mean in practice?

According to business coach Rita Goodroe of the Women’s Business Garden, business building is what you need to do to get money in your pocket right now, and is primarily about putting yourself in front of people, either online or offline. Marketing is what you do to build your pipeline, once you have some clients paying you of course. Writing articles, building mailing lists, and running competitions to help you generate leads are the sorts of activities that you should always be running in the background to ensure that you are continually feeding the beast, as it were.

There’s no sense in being successful or celebrating your wins if you haven’t got more potential clients lined up and waiting. Your continued success is only as good as your lead generation.

Tune in next time for tips on how to generate leads!