Are you sabotaging your sales pipeline?

4 min read

You could be your pipeline’s own worst enemy and not even know it. 

It’s an easy trap to fall into. Maybe you’ve been selling promotional products for awhile and the routine is so familiar that you don’t even need to think about it any more. You go through the motions. Maybe something like this:

A client calls, you take their request, fill their order, and then another client calls, you take their request and fill their order.  

Does that sound familiar? You’ve got it so down pat that you don’t even need to think about it anymore. You just sit and wait for that phone to ring, then put an order in.

It’s like you’re on auto-pilot.  

Only, here’s the rub, we get so used to being on auto-pilot that we stop thinking about things. And, when we stop thinking about things, we start having problems.  

Here are some of the most common problems that crop up when we stop thinking and start going through the motions.  

1. Not saying “Thank You”

It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is. This is especially important for clients who have been with you for awhile. They are the easiest ones to take for granted.  

We think they will keep returning to us year-after-year because that’s what they’ve always done. So, we don’t go the extra mile with them.  But, there’s someone else out there ready to bend over backwards to win their business away from you.  

Never take your clients for granted. Never expect them to return to you out of habit. Earn their business every year like it was their first order. 

2. Waiting for orders to fall into your lap

Let’s face it, rare are the times when a beautiful high-quantity high-margin order with blissfully long timelines walks up and asks who they should make the check out to. Geez, that doesn’t even happen with low-quanity, low-margin rush orders!  

You gotta go get ’em tiger.  

3. Not setting goals

In his book, Eat That Frog!, author Bryan Tracy says this about goals: “The number one reason why some people get more work done faster is because they are absolutely clear about their goals and objectives, and they don’t deviate from them.”  

If you don’t know what your pipleine goals are, you will miss them 100% of the time.  If you need help breaking these down, this spreadsheet will help. 

4. Not asking for referrals

Referral business is one of the most coveted type of business.  

First off, social proof is powerful stuff. Secondly, a warm contact through a referral creates a more comfortable relationship from the start. Your new prospect is going to have more faith in you from the outset because you came recommended by someone they know and trust.

Create a habit of asking for referrals. For example, commonsku customers use Feedback Forms as a great first touch for this.

5. Not focusing on the right clients

Have you heard of the Pareto principle? Maybe you know it better by a more common name, the 80/20 rule: 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers

So, find those 20% and focus most of your time and energy on them.

Look at things like how much business value each client has and how much of your time they take up. Also, look for red flags like constantly asking for quotes, but hardly ever placing an order.

In addition to focusing on that lucrative top 20% of customers, you should also consider cutting out your bottom 20% of “problem” customers.  

Key Takeaways:

  1. Complacency-creep doesn’t have to happen to you (or your pipeline). 
  2. Start thinking about what you’re doing every day.  Are you doing something because you are one auo-pilot and it is easy? Or are you doing it because it is the best way to do it?  Always choose better over easy.
  3. Comfort is overrated. If correcting one of these mistakes pushes yout outside of your comfort-zone, that’s called growth.
  4. Growth is good.

Click on the image below to download our free spreadsheet that will help you identify who your 20% customers are so you can focus more time and energy on them in the new year.

Discover your 20%

Creative Commons Construction of Cedar River Pipeline, 1900 ” by Seattle Municipal Archives is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / adapted from original