Never gonna give you up. Never gonna let you down. Never stop nurturing.

Never gonna give you up. Never gonna let you down. Never stop nurturing.

Ok, so you're not a Rick Astley fan. But are you a fan of nurturing your pipeline?

You're probably saying yes - and I believe you. But how dedicated are you?

One key insight from 23 years of driving revenue has taught me that most businesses give up too early.

"Oh, they didn't reply to my last two emails. It's dead."

"They connected with me on LinkedIn and never replied to me."

"They've gone quiet after receiving the proposal. It's dead."

My honest opinion on this? It's total rubbish. You've given up because you didn't do the most essential thing in sales.

That's to keep going.

"But I don't want to be a stalker? Why would I reply if they're not replying?"

Well, here's the big news. You're not the centre of their universe. You're barely hanging on to the fuzzy edges of importance to them.

So, let's get real. The only way you're going to influence them is to keep going.

But there are rules to the way you go about this. Because you're right, no one wants an unwanted stalker.

But they do need someone who keeps popping up with something valuable and finds the right cadence to do so. Well, you have the potential to close that deal because you're acting like a mature sales professional that is demonstrating better values to the rest of a murky bunch of crappy salespeople.

And so we're clear, I'm talking from direct experience and can count lots of examples where persistence paid off.

My favourite, you ask? Well, that was a retail banking client that took five years to move through the pipeline to close. Not to mention three changes of leadership along the way.

The result? An initial £20k strategy project - yes, a gateway product for those paying attention - and it turned into a £1m per year account from there.

Persistence in sales pays off. So, let's unpack this a bit more.

Why do we give up too early?

The most common pitfall in sales pipeline management is the premature abandonment of leads. Sales teams are under constant pressure to deliver immediate results and focus on low-hanging fruit - usually inbound leads.

However, this approach ignores a significant portion of the pipeline: the prospects who still need to be ready to decide but could become valuable customers and be prepared to buy in the next quarter or two.

Why? Inbound leads are easy. And most people are lazy. Unfortunately, lazy salespeople aren't successful salespeople. Because sales is a tough game, play it only if you have the endurance to see it through.

Nurturing outbound leads is hard. It takes patience, resilience, sophistication and determination. But when you get it right, wow, it can transform the shape of your business with a scalable, predictable, and sustainable engine.

The persistence strategy

To maximise the potential of every lead, businesses need to adopt a more nuanced and patient approach to sales pipeline management that's underpinned by persistence.

Persistence is the lifeblood of any successful sales engine. Recognising that not every prospect will convert immediately, if ever, is crucial.

Sales teams need to nurture relationships over time, providing value and staying top of mind without being aggressive.

Regular follow-ups, bringing value-add content into the conversation, finding different ways to engage and spark a conversation and understanding the customer's buying cycle are essential components of this strategy. It's about playing the patience game, realising that today's 'not now' could turn into tomorrow's 'yes.'

Make the most of technology.

While you can't ever underplay the value of a handwritten and personal follow-up, leveraging technology can significantly enhance the ability to nurture leads effectively.

Leveraging automation in your CRM and sales automation tools can help track interactions with prospects, remind salespeople to follow up at the right times, and provide insights into the prospect's behaviour and preferences.

These technologies allow for a more personalised and engaging follow-up strategy, ensuring potential customers are contacted with the right message at the right time. Additionally, data analytics can identify patterns and trends that help refine sales strategies and focus efforts on the most promising leads.

"But personalisation from CRM doesn't feel personalised enough", I hear you say.

True. But it's not one size fits all. Automation needs to be carefully considered alongside each prospect and each sales stage. In sophisticated consultative businesses, it should only be applied at the top of the funnel where there is likely less of a relationship. But there are, of course, always exceptions.

To achieve this, you need to break your rigid sales stages down and be more creative and granular about where each prospect is - and you need to be honest. Now isn't the time to be the overly optimistic salesperson. This approach needs a large dose of realism.

The right sales culture

Perhaps the most crucial element in nurturing sales pipeline opportunities is fostering a culture that values long-term relationships over quick wins.

This culture shift starts at the top, with leadership emphasising the importance of building trust and providing value to prospects, regardless of their immediate readiness to buy.

By creating a culture that prioritises the customer's needs and timelines, businesses can develop deeper relationships that lead to more sales over time.

Whilst I know this can be difficult when the financial pressure in a business is high, letting unnecessary pressure creep into a sales team doesn't help. If you're under pressure for fast revenue, you should look at existing clients and bottom-of-funnel opportunities and protect the top and mid-funnel approach as best you can.

Let's wrap this up.

Having read this, it's time for an honesty check. Are you giving up too early?

How many of those banking opportunities I mentioned have you missed out on because you thought it was dead and just given up?

Well, the good thing is it's not too late. You can make those cultural, behavioural and attitudinal changes today. And you can also deploy technology in the right way to support the process too.

So let's not miss out on the messy middle, and let's show a bit more persistence in our pipeline.

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