Managing your sales pipeline of new work ~ free tool

How do you gain an overview of the forward pipeline of work for your business and therefore work out what the priorities are for winning new work vs. research & development vs. admin vs. time for a holiday?

We’re fans of online CRM systems such as Tactile but if you’d rather there is a more manual way of doing things.

First of all you need a long list of all the possible clients for each of your products and services. Depending on how long this list is (i.e. 10’s vs 100’s) you might want to prioritise them according to how easy you think it would be for you to sell to them and the volume or scale of work they might buy/commission.

It is a good idea to do some homework on each of these to see what they already buy that overlaps with what you offer … so if they’ve just placed a large order with someone else or recently signed a contract with a competing agency then they’ll probably end up lower down your priority list.

Once you have a shortlist of priorities it is mostly about being clear as to what you’d like them to buy and tracking the stages of conversation you’re having with them. Here is a client status and planning tool that you might find useful. See the yellow notes for our thoughts on how to fill in each column. You might also want to add a column where you record your thoughts on the chances of winning the work (one way to show this is the % chance of the project/sale happening).

On the second sheet in the tool you’ll find a layout for you to use to track the phone calls and emails you make to each potential client. This means that not only can you track your activities but if others in the firm speak to them you can track this too.

You might also like to consider how long the list of possible sales needs to be in order for you to win enough to stay at the same level of business revenue vs grow the company? If you track all your leads over time you’ll be able to spot what percentage you tend to win … and therefore how many new leads you need in order to win enough work. In the service based creative sectors this is probably somewhere between 15-25% of all early stage conversations … just as a very very rough guide. If you’ve been receiving a lot of press coverage for your work of course this percentage will probably increase but you might not want to build in a higher win rate as necessary to fund the costs of the business!

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