Filling Your Marketing Pipeline

Imagine for a moment that you were launching your first marketing newsletter, and it was time to compile your mailing list. How many people who already know you could you put on that list? To make your newsletter effective, that number should be in the hundreds. This is one test that will quickly tell you if your pipeline is sufficiently full.

Here are some others: If you sat down to call every lead you currently have, would you be through before the end of the day? Have you already called every prospect in your book within the last 30 days? Are you not calling the prospects you have because you already know they don’t need you or can’t afford you?

Or, if you’re in a business where it’s unethical or inappropriate to call on prospective clients, how much is your phone ringing?

If it’s clear to you after answering these questions that it’s time to concentrate some effort on pipeline-filling, here are some guidelines to help you.

There are two broad categories of people and organizations you want in your marketing pipeline: those who may someday be clients, and those who can refer clients. To find people who are likely to become clients, you will want to reach out to a target market that is a good match for your service.

To find people who may never be clients, but could refer you business, you will be reaching out to those who serve or interact with that target market, sometimes called “referral partners.”

When a person or group doesn’t fall into one of these two categories, they probably don’t belong in your pipeline. While it’s true that people you meet in the course of doing business may become personal friends or helpful resources, you don’t want to use up your precious marketing time by following up with folks who are neither likely to be clients nor refer them.

Whenever you meet someone outside your target market who also doesn’t seem to have much contact with it, think twice before putting them in your pipeline. Always concentrate your efforts on the most likely prospects and referral partners. The way to win the marketing game is not to collect the most names and phone numbers, but to make the most sales.

Filling your marketing pipeline with prospects, contacts, leads, and referrals will be an ongoing process for as long as you are in business. This means that whatever marketing strategies you decide on for filling the pipeline, you should be willing to keep them up over an extended period of time.

In marketing, more of the same works much better than a little of everything. Ideally, your pipeline-filling activities should become automatic and habitual. Even when you are busy, you should always allow time for making new contacts, networking, speaking, or whatever your chosen strategies are.

It’s natural to wonder whether the strategies you have selected are really the best choices. You may find yourself wanting to switch around “just to see” if something else might work better. Don’t do this without cause. The only way to know how well a particular strategy is working to fill your pipeline is to track your results over time.

There are three statistics that will be very helpful to you in evaluating the strategies you are using:
* How many prospects did each strategy generate?
* How many sales resulted from those prospects?
* What was the dollar value of each of those sales?

If you carefully note the exact source of each prospect you interact with, you can easily track these statistics. If you keep tracking your results for three months, six months, or a year, you will have a much more accurate picture of which strategies work the best. Then if you decide to make a change, choose only one new strategy at a time to try out. And keep tracking.

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