The Sales Layer Cake: Network, Inbound, Outbound
Building pipeline and opportunities for a startup
I love the hunt: daunting, scary and always injecting doubt. But there is nothing better than putting together a sales plan and feeling the momentum of pipeline start to build. Sales calls leading to next steps and finally getting business across the line. But as an entrepreneur, sales leader or startup salesperson, reality can be a slap in the face: where do I start and how do I build a sustainable sales pipeline that gives me revenue, and lays the track for future revenue? I call it the layer cake, and I use it to divide up my sales day, and insure I focus on tasks and efforts that create a cycle of new opportunities. It is critical to create all layers for short, mid and long term pipeline, and to reach the highest possible earnings. Here is a quick overview of each focus area:
- You Network – When I need a reset or start a new position, I always go to my network: customers, past associates, friends, alumni, and those with which i have an established network. Start with those in your phone. If you have their direct number, it is where you should start. Call, email, chat and make everyone aware you are starting a new sales position and your value prop. Use LinkedIn to announce your new position, but only after you update your headline and profile to reflect your new position. Then methodically message everyone that may be a prospect and set quick pitch/intro meetings.
- Inbound/Existing – Make sure you have a method to receive and assign new leads from inbound sources: web, show leads, referrals, etc. Leverage social channels to be your own interest engine. Post daily on LinkedIn and Twitter, and gain followers. Create your own channels for leads and interest, and augment marketing’s efforts, remember, create layers. Next, dig into your CRM database. Most leads are not tackled sufficiently, and reinitiating the contact process can give you some easy targets of interest. Show lists or CSVs of industry leads? Grab ’em and go. Ask marketing if they have any target lead lists or have any CRM lists you can leverage.
- Outbound/Prospecting – It still amazes me the lack of creativity and effort many sales people put into prospecting. Prospecting is the long tail of your pipeline and if you aren’t adding net new people that have an interest in your product you will suffer down the road. This layer is important for long term success. I use Sales Navigator relentlessly to reach out to new prospects and 2nd degree network people with a short, basic pitch. I create mail merges to reach out to past leads and new ones, and touch as many as I can per day. This layer of the cake is so import, spend a ton of time here for long term gains.
The more effort you can put into creating these layers, the fatter your pipeline grows and the busier you will get! Happy selling.