This is a question my coach asked me several years ago. My answer was no. I bet you might have a similar answer yourself. I even bet that many of you don’t know what a pipeline is and I’m not referring to the ones that carry oil and gas.
First, a definition: A pipeline is the process that your company uses to produce sales. You might even have one and haven’t bothered to formalize the pipeline and write it down. If you haven’t stop right now, take out a piece of paper, and write down the steps that it takes for you to create a sale.
Ask yourself how many times you follow your pipeline
This is the crux of pipeline discipline; how many times you actually follow the steps that you know work in your company. Following a pipeline can be boring. You might even think that it stifles creativity. Those are comments I’ve heard over the years; both in companies I’ve owned and companies I’ve coached.
The problem is that when you don’t follow your pipeline you probably are not getting all of the business you should. A pipeline is a sales system. Using it will help you create more sales.
A personal story
I have a pipeline and more than once I’ve not gone through the steps in my pipeline. When this happens, bad things usually go along with it.
Recently I was working with a company who I would love to have as clients. They’re a perfect fit. We have the same type of belief systems. The company is already very successful. They want to be more successful. They’re a little stuck on how to take the next step. The CEO is coachable. All of these are great things to see when I’m looking for new business.
I have a pipeline step called doing the Objective Review. I’ve talked with this particular company for several years. I’ve even done some work for them from time to time. Now, I wanted to help them become one of my ten comprehensive clients that I work with.
I know that if I want to move a qualified prospect into this level of service I have to do an Objective Review. I need to set the tone and I need to exhibit how I can add value to our relationship. I can’t do this by telling; I have to do this by showing. The Objective Review allows me to show and let a potential client experience the value I bring.
For some reason, I decided I could short circuit the process with this company. I tried to move right to setting up a comprehensive wealth management relationship with them without doing an Objective Review. The wealth management relationship didn’t happened.
When they said no, I immediately knew why
I bet you can guess why they said no. I skipped a step in my pipeline process. I got impatient and moved for the close before I had exhibited my value. Even though they had done a few minor projects I never had a chance to help them think comprehensively about their business. This is a must step if anyone is every going to say yes to comprehensive wealth management with me.
I knew it before I started and I knew that without this step I couldn’t move the relationship forward. I thought that because I had talked with them and they knew me I could skip the Objective Review. I bet you’ve done this. I bet you knew you should have taken a step to complete a sale, thought you could skip it, and ended up not getting the business you thought you should have gotten. If it has, you probably kicked yourself because the step you skipped would have been easy to do. You didn’t follow your proven system and you got to pay the price, just like I did with this potential customer.
Don’t skip steps. Write down your process. Follow your process, and make sure those you work with also follow the process. You’ll get more sales and better customers to boot.
If you’re interested in learning more about our Objective Review process I’ve written a white paper that outlines what the Objective Review is all about. To get this report, click on the button below.