When you think you've got an amazing sale opportunity only to lose it somewhere in your pipeline, think of it as a chance to address problems. Losing a killer sale is a fortuitous time to inspect each step of your sales process to figure out what went wrong. Need some guidance on where to look first?
If you aren't already doing so, you must track your leads carefully through each stage of the pipeline. Customer relationship management (CRM) makes lead tracking more efficient while allowing you to create custom reports of the data you collect. It puts, at your fingertips, all the data you need to see to know what works and what doesn't, how many leads become opportunities, how many opportunities become sales, and who is performing most consistently. All information that will help you adjust your approach to troubleshooting your sales process.
Do you have amazing landing pages that generate plentiful leads, yet they don't really seem to go anywhere? Waiting too long to reach out could be your problem. An auto-response email is a nice courtesy, but you have to do more than that. Contacting a lead within the hour has been shown to significantly impact your chances of qualifying that lead. If you've got a qualified lead, such as someone who signed up for a trial of your product, contact them as soon as possible with a personalized email or phone call.
Too Much Automation
Due to the need for a quick response, it's tempting to automate your first contact with a lead. In some circumstances, however, that approach is so impersonal it may cost you a sale right out of the gate. Your leads don't want to talk to a robot. So when someone signs up for your mailing list, a form email is fine. If someone fills out a contact form for a quote, don't follow up with an automatic email containing a price sheet. Call them or send a personalized message. If you have a phone number for potential leads, consider hiring an answering service for a personal touch.
Too Few Leads
If you aren't constantly generating leads, you're bound to hit dry spells. No matter how long it takes to convert the leads you have now, eventually they will complete their journey as prospective sales. You'll need more leads to focus on. Generate new leads constantly and you'll never hit that wall. Similarly, if you're generating plenty of leads but they aren't in a stage to actually head toward a purchase, you're wasting your time weeding through crummy leads.
You've generated a lead, followed up quickly, and got them interested in doing business with you. Then you wait for them to mull it over and contact you with their final verdict? Of course not. If you want to lose a sale opportunity (slowly and painfully), let it sit untouched in your pipeline for too long. You must keep the lines of communication open all the way through the sales process. Use scheduling software or reminders in your CRM to ensure that no lead is left behind.
Cut Your Losses
Your sales team will lose out on converting leads to opportunities if they're spending too much time pursuing lost causes. There's no harm in following up with leads over the long term, as long as it's not monopolizing their time. If you haven't managed to shift a lead into a sale opportunity, reevaluate the value of that lead. Prioritize effectively. Think quality over quantity. Know when to cut your losses.
Once you go over your pipeline with a fine-toothed comb, you know all the steps where things could have gone wrong. Learn from and fix your problems immediately. Be sure to constantly track leads through the sales process. More importantly, regularly review the data you're collecting from your sales process. You'll be able to tweak the process more readily if you stay on top of potential problems.