Building a Sales Pipeline – Part 2: Mapping a Territory Plan

In last week’s post, we reviewed pipeline-building techniques that should comprise about 20 percent of your time, and recommended a five to seven touch-point campaign we’ll discuss next week. We also initiated a discussion about where we begin when prospecting. Let’s get into that now and ask: where do we start?

Warren Culpepper, author of the Culpepper Report, writes that there is a 5-year cycle in IT purchasing. Therefore 20% of your total potential universe is actively looking for a way to improve its operation through the use of your technology at any given time. By the way, your competition knows that too. It also means that 80% is not actively looking at any given time. Not looking means that they do not perceive, at this specific moment, that they have a need to satisfy, a goal to achieve, or a challenge to address.

So my question is: Do you want to spend your time calling on the same universe that the rest of your competition is also calling on, or do you want to spend your resources and energies calling on the 80% that are not actively looking today, and bring to the forefront of their priority the understanding that their operation does need your offering to help them achieve a goal, solve a problem, or satisfy a need?

Imagine two companies, one that is looking and one that is not. Both have similar profiles, work in the same industry, and have a similar history. Do you think that their C level executives share similar goals? If no one has contacted them because they are not looking at that present moment, do you think you could leapfrog your competition if you were to call on them first, and get them to discover that they need your offering?

So what works, and what doesn’t?

The Kenan-Flagler Business School of the University of North Carolina interviewed senior business executives to understand the circumstances under which they would accept a telephone call from a salesperson. The findings were as follows:

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This research clearly shows that cold calling does not work very well. Although important to do, (as one of the business development activities), a sales rep could quadruple her chances to reach the desired executive if the call was preceded by one or two introductory emails. Such emails or snail mails would sensitize the executives to challenges, pains, or goals (s)he could relate to. We suggest a five to seven touch-point campaign using email, snail mail, and phone calls for the highest return.

But hold on. Before you even think of sending an email or making a call, it would be important to identify whom to call. Next week we’ll discuss how to decide on the best person to call when prospecting. In the meantime, how do you currently make that decision, and has your strategy proven successful?

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