Building a Sales Pipeline for Prospective Relationships

By Stephanie Gilbert - June 19, 2014

As a young recruiter just starting out in the digital advertising industry, I used to hate cold-calling.

Central to that revulsion was the fear of being told “no” by prospective new clients at every turn.  This wasn’t an irrational fear either – most of the times that I approached new business, I would find myself rebuffed.

I later realised, thanks to some sage advice from people much more experienced than me, that I was making a simple mistake common to many inexperienced sales people – I was closing (or at least, desperately trying to close) business far too early in the sales process.

It’s easy to do. I had a great product (at least, I thought so) and knew I could help my prospective new clients to achieve what they wanted.  In my enthusiasm I assumed that you’d have to be mad not to want to buy from me.

But selling is much more nuanced than that. In the same way that you wouldn’t propose marriage on a first date (generally), you can’t expect a first cold-call to turn into a purchase.  To get more customers you need to build a pipeline of prospective relationships and nurture them.

High-quality lead generation is critical to the eventual success of that process, but it is also just the beginning. How you build engagement and rapport with those leads will determine the success of your efforts.  Time and thought are required.  Ask questions, find out what’s needed, and determine your ability to provide a solution.  Interest and buying intent is built through these conversations because buyers want to feel secure in their investment – that their reservations are known and have been answered; that they’re getting the best that they can get.

Above all else, be patient – going for broke and closing before interest is established will waste the opportunities that your excellent lead generation has provided.  And you’ll end up hating cold-calling as much as I did.

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