This piece originally appeared in the August 2018 edition of Independent Agent magazine and is reprinted here with permission.
Word of mouth, repeat business and referrals used to be enough to maintain a thriving sales organization. But today, buyers have more options than ever before, they're more educated, and the phone doesn't ring like it used to.
That means sellers need to be proactive in growing their pipelines and securing meetings with buyers. Here are five ways to get started:
1.) Lead with Ideas
In the public perception, products and services have become commoditized. With the increase of information available online and the ability to purchase more online, buyers have a lot more power than they've ever had before.
Differentiate yourself by sharing your ideas and valuable advice with buyers. When reaching out for meetings, lead with your ideas. For instance, you might suggest meeting to review new research in your area of expertise. Do this and you'll not only fill the pipeline, but also win more often.
2.) Develop a Prospecting System
Prospecting has always been a challenge for sellers, and it's only getting harder. Buyers are flooded with phone calls, emails and information. To break through all the noise, you need to have a prospecting system in place that involves reaching out to potential buyers on a regular basis.
Create customized content and messages, and reach out using multiple channels—phone, email, social media, snail mail. According to new research, it takes an average of eight touches to get through and generate a conversion with targeted buyers. Don't give up after two or three outreach attempts.
3.) Create Opportunities with Current Clients
One of the fastest ways to grow your pipeline is by creating new opportunities with your current clients. Across all the products and services you offer, are each of your clients buying as much as they should be from you? The answer to this question is typically a resounding no.
Connect with your current clients and continue to strengthen those relationships. Get to know their business and use this opportunity to uncover new areas where you could help. You need to build fluent product knowledge and ask the right questions to make the most appropriate recommendations.
4.) Ask for Referrals
As simple as it sounds, most sellers aren't very good at asking for referrals. One of the best ways to get more referrals is to give referrals first. Connect your clients with people they'd like to meet. Then, when it's time for you to request a referral, they'll be more likely to give you one.
5.) Connect with Past Prospects and Clients
Another trove of new pipeline opportunities is with your past clients and prospects. Just because they didn't buy from you, or stopped buying from you at one point, doesn't mean they shouldn't be buying from you now.
Nurture those past prospects and clients. Stay top of mind. Be proactive and schedule meetings to discuss what's going on with their business today. With change comes opportunity, and change is always happening.
Be ahead of the game in your prospecting efforts. The 5 tips listed above will help you see significant growth in your sales pipeline and secure more meetings with your most desirable clients.