How to Fill Your Sales Pipeline For Small Business

Every small business owner is actually in the lead generation business! If you own a small business, the only thing you need to do every day is generate more leads, so that you can get more sales, so that you can make more money. Getting those leads in abundance means filling your “pipeline” with suspects, prospects and actual leads.

There are multiple levels of lead types for your pipeline, here they are from least urgent to most urgent:

People who know you are in business but are not currently using your products or services. These can include people from your networking groups, someone who has entered your retail store but has not purchased or even your friends and family. These people should get something from you occasionally to remind them that you are in business, but should not occupy many of your marketing dollars.

Suspects are people who have at least expressed an interest in what you sell. They may have signed up for a free report on your website or dropped their name in a bowl at your trade show. These people should receive something from you that helps remind them about the benefits of your product or service, but should not be a blatant sales pitch. These could include a piece of industry news sent by email or snail mail, a personal phone call or even a marketing piece.

Prospects are people who have indicated that they want to buy your product. They may be taking their time making a decision, but they have expressed an interest. Be careful not to lose touch with these folks! You do not want to do all the hard work of selling them on your type of product or service, only to have someone swoop in at exactly the right time to steal your sale. Make sure to contact them on at least a bi-weekly basis and it is absolutely appropriate to send them industry news that will help them make a decision. Additionally, make sure to cut the time they say it will take to make a decision in half. If they say they will buy in six months, make sure to contact them in three months so that you do not lose the sale.

And the number one most important type of lead…

Someone who refers you business, whether they have ever purchased from you or not! This one can seem counter-intuitive. Why would you pay attention to someone who does not buy from you? A person who is willing to refer you to their friends and family can, over time, greatly increase your income. Make sure that you are sending them a personal note thanking them for their referral, every time they send someone your way. Also, make sure that they are invited to your client appreciation parties, that they get a special Christmas treat and that you call them at least monthly.

If you stay aware of your leads and which are the most important, you can fill your pipeline with people at each step of the sales process and help to smooth out the sales volume ups and downs that most small business owners experience.