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Pipeline Creation: Strategy Crushes Tactics for Breakfast

Posted by Jamie Shanks on Jul 25, 2019 8:02:00 AM

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Pipeline Creation-1

Every month I do a mentorship call with Matt Sharrers, the CEO of Sales Benchmark Index. During these calls, I’m working on my business, as both an investor and CEO,rather than working on the tactics.

Over time, it’s incredible how much I’ve grown to appreciate and understand how vision and strategy are actually 80% of the conversation – and 20% is around process,structure, people, tools, and tactics.

Yes, you will need to get to the tactics. To use an analogy, if you’re setting a course to sail from New York to Dublin, you’ll need to identify tactics, such as the rations, ropes,and organizational charts. But more importantly, you’ll need to understand the big picture – the macro environment, such as: how is the weather and the time of year going to affect you? How is the moon going to affect the tide?

When it comes to pipeline creation for your business, focusing on your vision and strategy will help you understand your purpose.

Why are you doing this? How will that purpose and strategy help save you during times of distress and despair, or when you’re feeling down?

It’s your vision and strategy that will pull you through those tough times.

A common mistake

In my experience helping clients with business planning, I see executives make a common mistake with sales reps that need to create pipeline—whether with reps who serve SDR or BDR functions, or with account executives who are responsible for
specific geographic regions or verticals.

The mistake is that when these sales reps or account executives realize they have a challenge, their regional VP’s focus on tactics. They say ‘put your foot on the gas and do more, drive faster, turn the corners faster.’

The reality is that it doesn’t really help the sales professional. If the sales pro understood
how to do more, don’t you think they would have done more?

You need to back up. If you are going to create twice the sales pipeline you have today,you won’t be able to go to your sales force and tell them to do twice as many calls, emails, LinkedIn In Mails – whatever the tactic is, no-one is going to just flip the switch and do two-times more.

What you need is a strategy to create asymmetrical gainswhich means for every unit of input, there is not an equal unit of output. You need to sit down, plan, and you’ll soon realize that what you’re doing today won’t double in size unless you double your headcount. But as I’ve written about before, that doesn’t make sense financially.

So, you need to create two-times more yield and throughput per seller, using the sellers you already have, and you need to develop strategies that might be uncomfortable – and you might not have a single clue to how to do that.

You need to roll up to a grander vision that more is possible – there are benchmarks that have been set by other companies producing more yield and production per seller than you are currently. From there, you can set a vision and strategy that it is possible, and find solutions that can get you there.

A simple strategy to increase your pipeline

Companies that are gravitating towards modern, digital selling understand this strategy: using online data to reverse-engineer relationships of companies and people that have high social proximity (asymmetrical competitive advantages because of strong relationships with your company).

This completely alters your ability to select (and de-select) accounts to target. This simple strategy increases the time spent with any account, and the account selection process has the most dramatic effect on your ability to hyper-scale your business development.

My point is that instead of trying to do twice as many emails, phone calls, and messages, realize that strategy is flawed. The accounts you’re targeting have no more propensity to buy than any other account, as illustrated by Chet Holmes® ’ Buyers Pyramid below.

buyers-pyramid(Image sourced from Chet Holmes® Blog: https://www.blog-chetholmes.com/attracting-new-buyers/)

The pyramid shows that only 3% of buyers are actively looking to buy today, and only another 7% is seeking to buy. That’s only 10% of any Total Addressable Market.

The rest of the market is kicking tires. But if you can identify who has propensity to buy and who you have asymmetrical relationships with, that you can lean on to open doors, that alone will create propensity to buy for your business, and will eliminate double the emails, phone calls, and In Mails.

If you just lean into target companies that you know will listen to you because of relationships you have, you’ve now changed your pipeline creation paradigm.

Jamie Shanks

Jamie Shanks

About the Author

Jamie Shanks is a world-leading Social Selling expert and author of the book, "Social Selling Mastery - Scaling Up Your Sales And Marketing Machine For The Digital Buyer". A true pioneer in the space of digital sales transformation, Jamie Shanks has trained over 10,000's of sales professionals and leaders all around the world.

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