A Guide to Developing Your Sales Pipeline for the Small Business Owner or Entrepreneur

In the spirit of honesty and authenticity, I’ll share that this post was not what I planned on writing this week. Sitting at the library on Tuesday, hearing people’s entire phone conversations, kids crying… I had every intention to write a follow-up to A History & Evolution of Communication: Verbal, Written, Visual,” discussing radio as a medium for mass communication, but today I couldn’t see the value it would bring to the audience that I’m looking to connect and work with.

So, I pivoted. No, I didn’t create a pivot table. Which by the way, isn’t even one of my skill sets, nor a service offered. I’m good at marketing, I’m good at lacking a filter at times, I’d like to also believe that I’m good at building genuine relationship that I hope to last a lifetime, and a few other things.

With that being said and done, what are some steps that we can take to not only generate sales, but to build and nurture professional relationships? Leh we go!

Plan Your Day

While your calendar doesn’t have to be filled to the brim with activities, it’s good to have a general idea of what you’d like to accomplish each day. The goal is to nurture your mind, nurture your body, and ideally nurture your pocket. The last part is achieved by offering a product or service to a business or consumer in need of them.

Prospect & Nurture Relationships

There’s a term that’s used regularly in sales that I’m not 100% fond of, and that’s “pipeline.” Naming aside, you should have a steady stream of qualified individuals or businesses that you move along and turn them from cold contacts, to warm prospects, and eventually customers.

How does one go about prospecting and gathering new names? I’m glad you asked! If you’re looking to work with other businesses, sites such as Career One Stop can offer you a list of prospects to target. The directory of your local Chamber of Commerce publication is another great source. Also good is stopping in by local businesses, introducing yourself and sharing contact information. Another bonus from this outreach initiative is that you can ask to leave your business card. Yes, people still do that.

Once you have the business name, you can use a source such as Manta or the Better Business Bureau to identify a contact. Once you have the contact’s name and method of communication, reach out and introduce yourself as well as your services.

How you ask? You can reach out to them via e-mail, via social networks, via phone, traditional mail still works too and is best when done earnestly and not in a SPAM-y manner. Who doesn’t like receiving quality mail? “Not I,” said the cat. The use of mail as a method of outreach can vary depending on what stage of the “pipeline” you’re in.

A great way to nurture “warm” relationships is to support their business, their events, etc. I write this and need to follow my own advice. “Do as I write, not as a do,” a famous philosopher is once quoted to have said.

It’s worth mentioning that getting out and attending local events pertinent to your field are also great ways to network and prospect. You can find some on MeetUp. If you’re a tech solopreneur, what are some of the organizations in your city? What events are they hosting?

While I write this, I found myself wondering how this would apply to a restaurant owner, to a floral shop owner whose main goals are to get customers through the door and keep them, ideally. For this, you can utilize either print or digital marketing campaigns but the part about nurturing those relationships remains true. If you’d like to discuss on a case-by-case basis, feel free to schedule a complimentary consult, post a question in the comments, or send a message using the Contact page.

Continuing with the topic of nurturing relationships, reach out to your clients on their birthdays, when they’re celebrating the anniversary of their business, to share news that would be valuable to their business. Be creative.

Keep Yourself Accountable

At a minimum:

  • Call at least 5 prospects per day
  • Meet with at least 5 qualified prospects each week
  • Send at least 5 prospecting e-mails per day
    • Consider also sending a follow-up e-mail to the individuals you met with
  • Attend at least 1 networking event each week
  • Spend at least 1 hour per week researching new leads

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to also read “13 Essential Digital Marketing Resources for Small Business Owners.” You can also contact me for a complimentary consult.

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