Step three: New business pipeline

Estimated reading time: 3 min

How well are you doing at winning new customers and prospects? Is it very important because your percentage success rate at winning opportunities has a direct impact on the number of opportunities that you convert paying customers.

symbol for new business pipelineEven a small improvement in your success rate will help you to make more money.

Step 3 in our Methodology is all about the steps prospects go through before they decide to buy from you.

Recent new business success

Let’s start by doing an analysis of your recent business successes. Go to your accounts software and print out a list of all of the invoices you have raised over the last six months. Make a note of the total sums payable by each individual and rank than by size so that you have the largest paying customers at the top of the page.

Now let’s have a look at some of the history of each of these customers or clients.

  1. How did you first get to know them?
  2. What dates did they first get in touch with you?
  3. What was the first opportunity they discussed?
  4. What was the final proposal to put to them? Was there a difference from 3 above?
  5. Who led the discussions?

Now let’s do the exact same thing for your existing prospects. You should have a list somewhere of all of the prospective new clients with whom you’re in discussion at the moment. Print that list out and answer the same questions as you did with your previous clients. Below is a form that you can use to fill out which may help you to order your thoughts for these.

Classify new business, lead sources,

Where does business come from?

Within your list of prospects may be some which are not yet concluded. Write down what’s the next step is towards bringing them closer to having a discussion with you and making a decision to buy.

How many biz dev stages are there?

A new business pipeline may have many steps, frequently there are common steps which all prospects go through. Usually for a B2B business they start with initial discussions, and you refine your offer and what the customer wants to buy, and you had a price and discussed whether they are prepared to pay for it, then you negotiate and then you either win or lose the business. It is a pretty standard sales funnel.

For B2C businesses the products are standardised and the steps have fewer reviews and revisions.

See if you can Identify what stage each of your current opportunities are at. Note: I put into an opportunity any discussion which has the potential to become new work – but I set it at a very early stage to reflect this.

Look for patterns in the data

What causes you to win business and what makes the sales funnel longer or shorter? Try to identify the causes of positive and negative situations in your sales funnel. These are areas to focus on – the ones which deliver faster revenues are worth focusing on.

If you have lost some opportunities recently, one tip I recommend is to ask a neutral third party to ring these people up and find out why you didn’t win the business. People will often be more honest than speaking to someone who does not work for the business. This can give you great insight.

Next time we’ll be looking at your business and brand profile and how to raise your profile.

Read the other posts from this series here!

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