Is your sales lead opportunity pipeline recession proof?

Talk is that a recession has been creeping up on us - if it’s not here already.  Even if we avoid one a tougher economic climate is surely on the way - and several important questions need serious consideration:

  • How will your sales organization cope with the downturn?

  • How full is your sales opportunity pipeline with “sales ready” opportunities?

  • What will you do if New Customer Acquisition closing rates decrease, throwing off all your projections? 

  • Are your marketing teams in tune with what sales needs?   Are they being held accountable?

Most businesses in a downturn expect that sales from existing accounts will decrease compared to last year. So if you do not bring in new sources of revenue the situation simply can only worsen. 

That virtually leaves New Customer Acquisition (NCA) as the only practical way  of making up or surpassing a sales shortfall.  NCA will be worthwhile even if it costs more to achieve, because new customers not only shore up immediate sales, they have long term value. Lifetime value in fact. That’s an asset worth fighting for.The sooner you shore up your defenses the better.  If you’re not already prepared here are some immediate steps you might take to avoid running into problems.

  1. If you do not have an organized and programmed lead generation program in place push the start button immediately.    (No need to re-invent this business wheel - eti has done so 20 years ago. Outsourcing to an experienced, successful, fully qualified sales lead service like eti, is a very good way to go.) 
  2. Once your program is in place (tested and producing a positive ROI), build in a declining sales closing ratio.   For example say you normally close on average 20% of the qualified leads in your sales pipeline, then consider projecting close rates falling to 10% and budget accordingly.  (Note:  An eti pipeline development program can be expected to help increase closing rates compared with your current activities. If you engage with us in long term activity your increased sales productivity could be substantial.)  
  3. In difficult times weaker salespersons (i.e. order takers) usually fail.  Only genuine sales people (natural or professional) – who enjoy the challenge of selling and winning will succeed.   
  4. Is your marketing department wasting precious dollars (see our earlier blog on this subject) on ineffective, non sales producing activities?  This is not the time for spreading pretty pictures or cute brand advertising. It’s the time for accountable, effective sales building demand generation promotions to ensure you stay in the game and grow. Time to use your promotional dollars more effectively, more productively. Time to hold marketing accountable for their spending. 
  5. Lead nurturing and lead revitalization efforts can be crucial to your company’s continued success.  Too many companies neglect these activities in good times. Big mistake. More so in difficult times. 
  6. Develop an enhanced Customer Retention program to limit churn and revenue loss from existing accounts.  Proceed in a disciplined and organized way. 
  7. It's time to cut your losses and go with the best.  The best sales people.  The best target markets.  The best lead producing business development agency.   (The biggest is seldom the best!)

eti Sales Support specializes in lead generation, superior lead qualification, lead nurturing, customer retention and account management services.  We’ve been through past recessions and have the acquired experience of winning new customers and retaining clients’ existing customers - especially in bad times.Don’t wait for the phone to stop ringing.   Call eti now at at  914-747-3030 or 1-800-466-4384 to talk about  how you can maximize your sales productivity and beat the impending recession. 

Michael Falkson 

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