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2019-05-29 (1)
GEC - Article - Sales & Sales Pipeline - Blog Header

Sales & Sales Pipeline

By Mike Midgley Posted 9 October, 2019 In GrowthEngine Community - Article - Sales & Sales Pipeline

In this Growth Engine episode, we're going to ask you to think about your sales and sales pipeline.



I get asked often what is the best way to manage sales, the best way to construct a sales pipeline? 

Realistically, the starting point is really to split this into two areas as these are two very different disciplines:

      • Your Sales Pipeline 

      • Sales Management [and we will cover this in a different article]

Your Sales Pipeline & The Customer Journey

The biggest mistake that I see people making is in designing their sales pipeline. 

What I want you to think about is backing that up to a step and understanding your customer journey first.

Check Out Skip Miller

The reason for that is that there's a great book out there, and I'm a big fan of this, it is called Proactive Selling by Skip Miller

You can also head over to the Open Mike podcast blog where I interviewed Skip Miller. 

Skip's a New York Bestselling Times author, published in 38 countries, trains Facebook, Googles sales teams as well as many major corporations. 

He's like a leading sales consultant. I highly recommend his work, Proactive Selling is a great starting point to understand this further. 

The Differing Views of The Sales Pro & The Buyer

Skip talks about how the buyer sees things and how the salesperson sees things and often, well, they're not quite polar opposites. 

They are in different positions: 

  • The sales pro wants to do the deal now

  • The buyer wants to think about it or maybe speak to another vendor

The key point is if you were to just try and design your sales process, you're designing it from your point of view, what you want to have happened and that sometimes, and in most cases, brushes up and causes friction between you and the client.

Looking at it From The Buyers Point Of View

Doesn't it make a lot of sense to say, 

"Okay. Now, I understand my persona. I'm dealing with” whether that is: 

  • A legal firm 

  • You might be dealing with B2C consumers

  • Retired couples

  • Teenagers

  • People looking to buy a house

Whatever that demographic is, and geographic and psychographic is, once you've got that sorted, doesn't it make sense to plot that journey of what they go through?

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Ask Your Customers!

Do that by just asking people, interview your customers, your best customers and the ones that didn't buy too. 

"Hey. Talk to me about how did you start thinking about buying our product? Or What steps did you go through?" 

If you do that over, it'd be easier to say, 12, 15, 20 customers. You may not have that time, but get a spread of half a dozen good customers, interview them. 

You'll start to see some common traits of the steps that they take. Now, I'm not saying that these are accurate for everybody. 

A Typical Example of A Buyer's Journey Starting With Awareness Stage

  • I'm aware I've got my problem
  • I'm conscious I've got it
  • I might research it online
  • I might seek a recommendation
  • I might go to a specific trade site
  • I might be regulated service
  • I have to go through a certain channel
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Then consider who are the people involved? It may not always be a decision-maker. 

It may have been delegated down to an influencer to go and research. 

At that early stage, are we dealing with a decision-maker or are we dealing with an influencer or a team or a combination?

The Consideration Stage

As they move through the section of awareness into consideration, what are the steps they are taking there? 

  • Do they want a webinar? 

  • Do they want a download? 

  • Do they want to touch and feel the product? 

  • Do they want somebody to come out and see them? 

What is that process? What are the steps that they go through? 

Finally, once they're aware of the problem, they've considered the options, they've touched and felt it, they've experienced it, they're now convinced. 

What social proof do they need at that stage to move them forward into the decision stage? 

  • Is that a try before you buy, like a week's free trial before your credit card kicks in if you're an online business? 

  • Is that like a car sale where you maybe do a 48-hour test drive and leave it with them? Then, you negotiate the deal to continue afterwards.

  • Is it service such as like what we do in one of our executive or agency sides where you say, "Hey. Let's do this mini-project for you first, so you can see what we do, the type of results and the culture fit that we have before you actually go full in with us." 

The Decision Stage

What do they need to do internally to get that signed off? 

  • Is that yes, I can make the decision? 

  • Is that I need to go to the board and secure budget? 

  • Is that means I need to finance this? 

If you're doing a car, for example, or a house, a mortgage, then there's usually some form of credit agreement, mortgage, finance, lease, contract hire payment, personal lease deal on a car or whatever.

Think about what they're going through. 

Then, once you understand them, map that out left to right. 

Talking The Customer Language

You can then start to say, 

"What do my sales team need to do? What are my processes?" 

There's a great tip that HubSpot say in their sales pipeline training course and academy, and that is that you name the stages of your sales in the customer's language. 

It's not quote sent, it's quote received. 

Do you see how that works? It's in the customer's language. 

When they see it in there, your salesmen are thinking, well the customer's got the quote. It's received or it's quote signed off which is ordered. I've ordered it, because the customer's mentality, I've ordered that product.

I hope you find that welcome and has given you food for thought about structuring your sales pipeline and buyers journey stages to close better deals. 

I'd love to help and take your questions on it. 

If you're struggling, not sure, you've got it halfway done or you've mastered it, doesn't matter, as always in the community, there are people who have got different stages, different levels of experience and we're here to help all. 

If you leave me your questions below, whether that might be how do I get started with it? Can you draw this out? Whatever it would be, or I'm stuck at this particular point, what would you call it? then we'd be more than happy to get those questions answered for you.

Thanks for sticking around. Thanks for continuing your Growth Engine development.

'Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune or temporary defeat.' - Napoleon Hill

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About The Author
GEC - Article - Sales & Sales Pipeline - Blog Header
Mike Midgley

Mike Midgley is the Strategy Director at 6teen30 Digital and a dynamic digital entrepreneur, nxd, strategist, public speaker and host of TheOpenMike Podcast show & Co-Host at The Inbound Podcast. Mike has achieved successful six and seven-figure exits over a 25-year career, raised in excess of £1.6m [$2.5m] in Venture Capital and franchised his businesses 68 times.