There are perils in the pipeline. These range from bulges to gaping holes.
Failure to understand and manage these perils will just cause you to work harder, or worse, you will get discouraged and quit.
As we progress through a series of pipeline perils columns, I plan to accumulate various bits of pipeline wisdom for you here: www.billgood.com/salespipeline. You should start your own “pipeline library” by downloading my sales pipeline infographic you see on that Web page. It’s a great cheat sheet on the critters that go in, inhabit and get ejected from your pipeline.
[Editor's note: See Bill Good's October column "Sealing Cracks in Your Sales Pipeline."]
Pipeline Ins and Outs
There are only three types of prospects that enter the pipeline.
A = Hot. By definition, a “hot lead” is very interested, financially qualified, and willing to begin the sales process by setting an appointment.
B = Red Cherry. Someone who is interested, qualified and willing to receive investment literature. This person is NOT hot.
C = Green Cherry. Interested but does not have the funds or ability to make a decision until a known or suspected later date.
Pits, are tossed. Rude and abusive folk are ejected. And some emerge as new clients.
What Happens Inside?
Oh I wish the pipeline were an orderly flow. You call back a Red Cherry. He or she sets an appointment.
In the first appointment, you do your profile. You set the second appointment. Your prospects show up on time. They like your presentation. They buy.
But the reality is different. The pipeline is a roiling, dirty flow. People you are certain are going to buy do not. They skip appointments, get scared, don’t communicate.
Roberta Loblaw calls your office. She attended a seminar two years ago. She wants info on an IRA rollover. You send it. You tell her you will call her in a week. She’s very upbeat, friendly and excited to retire in six months.
You make the promised call. You leave a VM. No return call.
You try three days later. VM. Nada.
You wait a week. VM. Zip.
Roberta is in a bad place. I call it “dark.” But be careful now, don’t confuse “dark” with someone who is a “false cherry”—generally a cold call prospect who looked like a cherry on a first call, but told you to send some info just to get you off the phone. They never accept a second call. If you are cold calling, and if a cherry does not answer the phone or return the call after two attempts, realize you have a pit. Move on.
When I talk “dark,” I am talking about real cherries who go dark. They are worth the time and effort to recover.
The Dark Side