It’s the launch of 2017, and you likely spent the last part of 2016 rallying every possible opportunity and trying to get every deal closed to ensure you hit your 2016 goals. Congratulations, you hit your number! But now what? It is a new year and you’re supposed to feel energized heading into 2017, except you just completely wiped out your pipeline and have to start from scratch. Does this sound familiar?
If you are in sales, this can be a very common occurrence. The life of a salesperson can hit the highest highs and the lowest lows. Does it always have to be this way? Are there ways to avoid the ups and downs? Success can look very different, depending on your industry or occupation, but not many occupations have the wide ranging, and many times, multiple swings back and forth that a career in sales does. This roller coaster ride can be a blast when it’s on the rise, but can also be devastating when it starts going the other way. There are ways to offset the drastically changing reality of a sales person, and those solutions can range from simple to complex.
Stabilizing Your Sales Pipeline
The complex way to ensure stability in your pipeline is to create long-term relationships with your customers based on long-term solutions. Like anyone that has sold a component, you understand the importance of getting in on the project early. If your product is on the drawing and gets approved through quality assurance, it will then take an “act of Congress” to remove you from that project. However, these types of relationships take time to truly establish. It can take upwards of two years just to get a single project, let alone enough to sustain your annual sales pipeline. Only through years and years of successful production will a sales professional have enough of these types of relationships to be able to curb the ebbs and flows.
The Power of Prospecting
There is a much simpler approach to filling a pipeline and that is to prospect. Now, that is an oversimplification, and most of you are thinking to yourself that is a given. Most sales people try to do this, but this often takes a back seat to the current business needs. Where successful sales people differ is that they make prospecting a part of their schedule every day. Setting aside time that is specifically to be used for business development allows them to continually keep their pipelines full and, every time they close a deal, another project begins.
Sales professionals either thrive or tolerate the pendulum swings of the job. If you can prospect continually, or spend time building trusting relationships, you will have success in your sales career. However, the top 1% of salespeople have the ability and, more importantly, the discipline to do both and thus will never have any other job.
How does your business development plan look for 2017?