We’re regularly asked by clients: ‘How can we generate sales?’

All businesses need sales, but often finding time to look for them is hard. But it needn’t be.

Find a ‘real world’ solution?

Books will tell you that you need to spend at least half your working day selling – but we all know that just isn’t possible.

So, let’s start with the best thing you will read on this page:

Don’t waste time talking to people who don’t want or aren’t ready to hear you.

You can’t make everyone a customer, so focus on finding people who can and will (we’ll deal with profiling customers in another article).

The diagram below shows a typical ‘sales pipeline’


diagram of a sales pipeline


Now, presuming you’re passionate about your business and very good at whatever it is you do, how does this help? Simple, more sales means you can do more ‘stuff’ (hire new staff, buy better equipment, take more holidays, pay yourself more money, donate more to charity etc.).

To keep your sales pipeline nice and full, start by proportioning your time and resources more effectively.

Networking and social media are great tools, but if all you’re doing is building a huge collection business cards or simply ‘shouting into the void’ on twitter and LinkedIn, then you’re not getting the most out of your time.

Spend your time better

First, let’s consider ‘interested but not right now’.

Back when Seth Godin coined the phrase ‘permission marketing’, it rang true with millions of people and heavily influenced modern marketing techniques.

But for those of you who don’t know what to do with or have the time to capitalise on that permission, then maybe it’s time you considered automating that part of your sales pipeline.

There’s great tools out there, like Mailchimp for email or Hootsuite for social media, which do a lot of the work for you. But they’re useless if you don’t have a plan and resource to put it into action.

Or you could consider investing a little money in outsourcing. This can take the heavy lifting out of putting you ‘on people’s radar’. But if you do try this option, make sure you have a system in place for when ‘Interested, but not right now’ becomes ‘interested’.

Now interested

Which brings us to ‘interested’ – or people who make a ‘tentative’ enquiry.

You’ll be tempted to shift straight into ‘sales mode’ and start ‘converting’ them – but they don’t like being sold too, right? Now, many of these can’t or won’t become customers, so having a set of tools – pre-designed proposals, brochures, case studies or qualifying questions – can quickly help sort the wheat from the chaff.

In fact, do this well and you’ll free up more of your precious time to spend talking to the ‘really interested’.

Improve how you do this

By having a method for gathering this information you can deliver your products or services in a way that leaves ‘really interested’ people helpless to do anything other than buy from you (often called SPIN selling). Then finish this process off with a killer presentation or sales pitch (one that you ‘top and tail’ to suit each potential new client).

Too many of us spend time trying to ‘reinvent the wheel’ or ‘save money’ by investing huge amounts of our time in doing things other people can do better, faster and, when you factor in the time you’ve wasted, cheaper (and really we know this).

In reality, your time is better spent at the ‘thin end’ of the sales pipeline

The diagram below shows why.


sales pipeline automation diagram


By doing this, you can use this saved time to do the single most profitable thing your business can do:

Developing your existing customers.

But more about that another time.