The importance of setting up your sales and business pipeline

When I started the entrepreneurship journey video series, I said that I was going to talk about the things that went right and also the things that we did not get right from the beginning and that is something that I want to talk about today.

One of the things that I really needed to get my head around as a marketer, as a strategist and as someone who has never had a revenue line with direct responsibility before was setting up processes around sales and business development. We had a bit of a bump about 18 months in even though we had a fantastic start because we had a bunch of clients who were already signed up to working with us when I first started the business. It was a really good way to start but I was not as focused on building out a new business and I realised only about 18 months to 2 years in that that was something that I needed to really get sorted out.

For those of you who have run an agency before probably this is a no-brainer for you but as someone who had not come from that background, it was definitely something that we needed to get sorted so I did not really know what to do. I then spoke to some people in my network particularly one of my really good friends who specialised in business development and he coached me through a few things.

One was the need to set up a tracking sales pipeline where you look at the leads coming in, the conversion percentage of those leads and as the Managing Director really owning that. Because what happened was that we were so busy doing the work which resulted in us not looking for new work and you need to be doing both things at the same time. The other thing that he told me is that you need to have both a short-term focus on what you are actually bringing in right now, what is necessary to meet the expenses of the business and grow the business, and a long-term focus too that looks not at just the next three months but looks at the next 12 months and where the revenue is going to continue to come from. If you already have a good base of clients then that is going to come from existing clients, so focus on continuing to build out those relationships and look for drawing business from them.

We are now three years in and we have got this sorted but it actually took a bit of a rough patch to bring the focus to it and really get it sorted out.  I am really glad that now that it is all in place it feels like we have a process that we follow and the team is familiar with which seems to be working well. So when you are starting your business particularly if you are a service-oriented business absolutely have this in place at the beginning. Think about it from the beginning too and if anyone has any questions about it I would be happy to share what I have learned on this as well.