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How to Manage Your Pipeline

How is your pipeline structured?

I assume most of you have heard about the sales pipeline. Your pipeline is what keeps your business going. It is a lot like a funnel: at the large end, you need to do lots of activities that will generate a slew of interested contacts; some of these move down the funnel and become coached; of these, a few get qualified, and even fewer go on to be selected and finally closed. Once you have a customer, the tendency is to spend your time at that end of the funnel fulfilling the work. When the job is done, you turn around and there is no more work waiting; you go back to the other end of the funnel and start all over.

The important lesson here is that you need to keep a balance within your pipeline so that you do not run out of clients at the end of the day. Have you ever been in a situation where you were working with one client that took up enormous amounts of your time and you had no time to do your marketing activities? And the client without warning cancelled the project and you were left without any work and nothing in the pipeline? This is the worst thing that can happen to a business. You should always have Plan B and Plan C and Plan D, etc., in the wings at all times.

There are several stages in the pipeline but you must remember to work on it to keep things flowing through. If you get a customer that tends to eat all your time, make sure the client understands that you must take one day or half a day every week to work on your own marketing efforts. You can suggest that they extend the project over a longer period of time so that your needs are also met. You will find that most clients want their project as a first priority and that you will need to schedule your time around your own marketing activities. The important thing to remember is that you must always fill the pipeline.

Your efforts to fill the pipeline while being tied up in other projects may seem difficult but you will find that a number of networking opportunities are either held early in the morning or in the evening. Some events are held at the lunch hour. Take advantage of this and set new client meetings around meal times. Don't let your business dry up; always work towards finding other relationships that can lead to future projects.

Bette Daoust, Ph.D. has been networking with others since leaving high school years ago. Realizing that no one really cared about what she did in life unless she had someone to tell and excite. She decided to find the best ways to get people's attention, be creative in how she presented herself and products, getting people to know who she was, and being visible all the time. Her friends and colleagues have often dubbed her the "Networking Queen". Blueprint for Networking Success: 150 ways to promote yourself is the first in this series. Blueprint for Branding Yourself: Another 150 ways to promote yourself is planned for release in 2005. For more information visit http://www.BlueprintBooks.com

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