Taking Action on Your Pipeline KPIs
December 10, 2020
When business development programs don’t result in a full pipeline and enough new clients, too many people just do more. Send more connection invitations; more messages; more email; more calls.

If your approach isn’t working, do more of it – when has this ever been successful?

The process of finding new prospects and helping them along a path to become clients has many points you can tweak to get better results. Rarely is piling on more outreach the best answer.

Recently Bob Woods at Social Selling Links posted a great article on Measuring ROI from Your LinkedIn Efforts. Although I use slightly different wording, these are the same indicators we use to ensure maximum results from pipeline filling efforts. In our words:

  1. Number of ideal prospects found and reached out to.
  2. Connection request acceptance rate.
  3. Percentage of engaged prospects who agree to an initial conversation.
  4. Percentage of conversations that actually take place
  5. Percentage of initial conversations that eventually produce an opportunity
  6. Percentage of opportunities that become new clients

Watching these numbers is enlightening; it points to a number of areas where you can make adjustments to increase the return on your efforts. But what adjustments should you make?

The actions I consider when refining our clients’ programs are summarized in the following chart, and I’ll describe them in more detail below.

Aren’t identifying enough ideal prospects?

Every business development program needs a consistent flow of newly identified prospects moving into the funnel. Establish the number of new prospects you need to find and reach out to each month. This feeds your funnel.

There are two potential reasons you’re not identifying enough ideal prospects. Either you’ve run out of prospects meeting your criteria or you need to identify them faster.

If you’ve run through all the prospects LinkedIn has to show you, you can 1) expand the target market – geography, industry, etc. or 2) add a new target market.

Don’t forget you probably have a significant number of ideal prospects you’ve reached out to but they haven’t connected or engaged. Before you abandon them, ask yourself or your team if there are other ways to get to them.

If you’re just not finding prospects fast enough, you can finetune your research process to increase speed or you can add another researcher.

Connection invitation acceptance rate too low?

Connection acceptance rate is important because it opens the door to more communication. If you aren’t getting enough people to accept your connection it will affect things all the way down the pipeline.

You should always be testing connection invitations to see which ones get the best response. As a last resort or a quick fix, you can send more invitations but remember that LinkedIn limits you to a daily/weekly maximum depending on your type of account.

Not enough connections agreeing to a call?

The problem with this is obvious. No complex, B2B sale is ever completed without a call.

If you’re not getting enough people agreeing to talk with you, look at your outreach approach. There are several places you could tweak here.

Are you asking for a call too soon?

Are you giving your prospects a good reason to talk with you?

Are your messages too focused on you and not focused on the prospect?

Could the cadence be better?

Should you add another communication channel? Is it going to require more – or better – nurturing?

Calls not actually happening?

If more than 10% of the people who agree to a call bail on you, you can often fix it by improving your call booking system.

Is someone staying on top of the booking?
Are reminders being sent or do you just send info once?

Are you using an online calendar? This one can be good or bad depending on your target audience. Some people just don’t like online calendars; others prefer it.

If tweaking your system doesn’t work, take a look at those people who don’t book. What do they have in common? Can you filter them out in the future?

Too few opportunities being identified?

Calls that result in an immediate sales opportunity are great. Calls that illuminate a potential sales opportunity are great. Calls that result in a strategic or referral partnership are great.

Calls that go nowhere are not. Nor are they totally avoidable, but you do want to filter out as many as possible to be more efficient. Who has time to be spending on deadend calls?

Low opportunity-to-call ratio usually means you need to tweak your target audience or your ability to identify an opportunity.

Closing too few opportunities?

If you’re having conversations with ideal prospects and you’ve identified an opportunity and you aren’t closing enough of them, you have a sales issue.

Time to talk to a sales consultant. Which I am not. But I do know some to recommend.