Advisor Today - July/August 2015 - (Page 21)

PRACTICE SPECIALTIES MANAGING YOUR PRACTICE By John Graham The Business Benefits of a Pipeline Mentality Create customers by filling your company's pipeline with customers-in-the-making. T oday, the customer story is simple. Loyalty ranges from nonexistent to temporary. Mining the Internet is second nature, relying on smartphone apps to cut through the clutter. With an endless array of channels available, engaging customers can be an exercise in futility. Surprisingly, the current situation hasn't changed much, particularly for those in sales, who have always asked, "Whom can I talk to today?" The search for prospective customers is just as elusive as it has always been. In spite of all the changes, the prospect problem remains the same. A different approach: a pipeline view To get beyond the barriers that keep us from engaging customers and avoid always asking the "Whom can I talk to today?" question, what's needed is "a pipeline mentality." The process is one of customer creation, of filling the pipeline with potential business while taking care of the new business that flows from the pipe. Instead of spending valuable time and using limited resources on constantly looking for new business, a more prudent approach is to create a pipeline mentality process that produces business. It's actually counter-intuitive to put making a sale ahead of creating a customer. achieving that one goal. Prospects quickly sense the true mission and go on the defensive, either rejecting the salesperson or backing away from making a decision. To think of prospects as customers-in-the-making is more effective, whether they buy today or a year from now. The goal is to bring them into your orbit in such a Building the pipeline way that they will not go elsewhere. Here are the elements of This is what allows selling to focus implementing a pipeline strategy: intensely on the customer. 1. View prospects as "customers 2. Make prospect identification in-the-making." Although it an ongoing commitment. It's actually contradicts traditional sales strategies, counter-intuitive to put making a looking at prospects as a potential sale sale ahead of creating a customer. distorts the selling process. Although The goal of prospecting should be to most salespeople are quick to say that identify those who fit a company's they are solution-oriented and want customer profile and who, when to help customers, their behavior properly cultivated, hold a potential sometimes betrays their words. for becoming buyers. It's easy to spot the salesperson The most difficult task for most with one objective in mind: to make businesses is making prospect the sale. Everything is aimed at identification an ongoing task. The life force of sales is a pipeline that's filled with prospects that have discovered the value of doing business with you, who recognize that there's value in partnering with you, and who have discovered all this before becoming customers. Most prospect identification efforts produce minimal results because they lack constant attention. They're viewed as temporary activity rather than as the lifeblood of the organization, the source of new business for the years ahead. 3. Segment prospects to focus on individual needs. Even after decades of discussion, few companies recognize the value of segmenting their databases and toss everyone in a couple of buckets, failing to drill down for personal preferences, lifestyle nuances, sales and demographic data. Although this is the age of the individual customer, the implications are largely ignored by most businesses. cont'd on page 22 July/August 2015 | ADVISOR TODAY 21

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Advisor Today - July/August 2015

From The Editor
Viewpoint
New Products
How Do You Create the Million-Dollar-Plus Practice?
Traits of Top Performers
The Business Benefits of a Pipeline Mentality
What Does It Mean to Act Ethically?
Variable Universal Life is Back
Sell More LTCI By Selling Less!
Overcoming the Most Common DI Objections
Divorce DI
Mitigating Retirement Risks with Life Insurance
Creating Irreplaceable Capital
Closing the Gap
Financial Future Less than Rosy for Boomers and GenX
Estate Planning and Annuities?
Ignite Your Sales Potential
A Closer Look at BTID
Upholding the Tradition
NAIFA’s Candidates for Election
NAIFA News
Addicted to Rejection
What is Keeping Your Senior Clients Up At Night?
Advertiser Index
Back Page

Advisor Today - July/August 2015

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