Prospecting Tools That Work
Wanna talk a little bit about pipeline management, I'll do any last roll up prospecting questions before we get into further things. For those of you who are students in in business and management parlance, you'll know that what you, that which you do not measure you cannot manage. Right? I encourage you, absolutely 100%, to manage and measure your pipeline. Essentially, your list of prospects. So we use Google spreadsheet, we like an online version of it 'cause I collaborate on this document with my chief marketing officer. And what we do is, any given prospect that we're talking to, you know we put in their name, what the project is, what the deal size is, and what type it is, some notes about it maybe, and where it might have come from. And then we rank all of these prospects from zero to ten. Now anything that is a seven and above, a seven to ten, means that we have literally delivered them a proposal that could possibly be signed. Very real. Like it's not, "Had a conversation in a...
bar with a guy, "said he had ten bucks, now they're in my prospect list." Nah, that's not the way it works. Six is, we've started talking to somebody, they said they think they have about a quarter million dollars for this thing. We haven't quite figured it out yet, or how real it is yet, and it might turn into a proposal, or it might not, but it's on our radar so we can be thinking about it. And the objective is, let's get this, sixes gettin' into the sevens. Now eight becomes, feelin' good about this thing actually. Got another phone call, they didn't balk on the pricing, they thought the scope was just about right. Nine is, they said that they wanna hire us, and they think we're gonna work together, but there might be some last hurdle or they're not sure when they wanna start. And ten is we're just waiting to get through contract and get this thing signed and then we can roll. If you manage your pipeline this way, you're gonna start to understand how much money in potential opportunities do I need to have at any given point in time, to maintain the business and or grow it, ideally if you wanna grow the business. For us, this is gonna sound crazy to you guys maybe, I dunno. We have about 10.5 million in our pipeline today. We close between a half and 1.5 million dollars of projects per month. And so for us, we're like, "Okay if we got that cadence, like if the pipeline dips too low, like there's no way that we're gonna close that amount of business next month, and oh wait the business is really gonna start to fall off a cliff in three or four months, that's a bad thing, we better build some barrels and boil some oceans and reach out to some clients and say, "Hey do you want any more work "or do you know people that do?" It starts to create a new kind of urgency and then you can deploy some approaches to fill that pipeline again. But if you don't fill a pipeline, you can't manage it, you can measure it, you can't know if you're gonna fall off a cliff or not. So there's another look at this document that I think is important. This is gonna look a little complicated and convoluted. And it's not really meant to be. And you don't have to use this, but I find it's really helpful for, well specifically for me and also my CMO, 'cause we are motivated to like hit goals. I like goals. Hopefully, you like goals too. If you have a business, you should have some goals. I didn't have any goals from a revenue point of view for the first four years probably. The goal was like, get some. Get some revenue. Okay. But as the company grows, and you have a payroll that starts to creep up over $100,000.00 a month, and you're like, "Okay, well I can't just fly blind here anymore. "That's not gonna be cool." I need to put some diligence behind this and actually, wow how much new business do we need to close every month, and did we hit it or not, and oh the goal was, for January, if we're looking at row 12 here, the goal was 50K. We had to close 50K of projects, we did it with three different prospects of 15K project 20 to 50. We were 70% over goal. I feel great. And I get to highlight that cell and turn it green. Now you don't have to do this with all the colors, but there literally is this little, there's probably a pot of dopamine that erupts in part of my brain back there when the thing goes green. Just a little bit. 'Cause prospecting and closing deals and doin' the whole sales thing, it's not always fun. It actually can sometimes be really stressful, right? So if you can find opportunities to trigger those endorphins and those dopamine pops, do it. And for me, it's highlighting this thing green. However, then the next month comes and you're like, "Oh we wanted to close 50, "we didn't. "We closed 35. "Now I've gotta make this thing red." Now I'm like, "How, should I care month-to-month, "if I'm hitting these goals?" How relevant is that? And that's an important question to ask yourself. It's not that relevant, depending on the duration of your projects. So if your average project duration is like three months, I don't know. You could win a new one two months forward. You're gonna have enough business. If it's like, these are one week projects, yeah month-to-month is probably very, very relevant 'cause they're such quick turns. What I like to see is an aggregate now. 'Cause we're a little bit bigger. Again going back to, starts become business school parlance, like what does Q1 look like, what did Q2 look like? And if I look back historically over the years, I'll start to see that Q1, and all of you who have worked in an agency environment, know that Q1 is typically like the lightest quarter, because everyone's pushing for the holidays, right? So everyone just finished all their big stuff from the year before, everyone comes back in January. People are still on vacation for the first week or two, no one signs new things in late January. February people maybe start to think about the fact that they should do something, and then they send you an RFP at the end of February, and then you do your first presentation the end of March. I've not closed any business now for Q1, I'm stressed out. And now Q2 is starting to look good, and then three and four are crushes, right? So starting to understand the cadence of your own business by tracking a pipeline like this, I think is crucial. And then as I said, depending on your business, the monthly thing may or may not mean anything. For us, we don't stress out about a monthly. And also especially because our deal size is like, we could win, we're the social agency of record for Kroger, and for Volkswagen, and Sam Adams, and a whole bunch of things like, we can win a deal that's millions of dollars. Well guess what? When I put $5 million in there, and we beat the goal by 400%, I mean that feels sort of good, but the revenue is not $5 million that month. It stretches through the course of the whole year. I like to have this view. The targets tab, is also in that download for you. And if you wanna just upload the Excel to Google spreadsheets, it'll work again as a dynamic document.
I'll just chime in quickly there, like with people who are feeling this out, I mean you're talking in the millions but, the same stuff applies here no matter how little the sums are that they're working with.
The examples that I put in here are 15K, 20K. Actually I will say that there is one item in my pipeline today that is $1200.00.
There you go.
I don't know why it's in there, but it's a thing that will get invoiced for if it gets signed off on and it just happens to be just a little thing that somebody needed, that is from a much bigger client of ours. So we just track every single thing in there. It's about, it's about being diligent, you know? Every incoming thing is gonna go into the pipeline, if we close it we're gonna track it. And then once it's in here, you know it's gonna be, it actually would be red under here until it's invoiced. 'Cause we're a bigger company now so the project managers and the CFO team is gonna send the invoice out. I don't know if my new business has actually been invoiced for until that thing turns black. 'Cause you don't wanna do work that never gets invoiced, right? I know people that will do work, and not send an invoice for months. I don't understand that. That's a whole nother session, I don't think it's in here, which is like this fear of like, getting paid. Unbelievable. Get paid. I wanna, actually what I do, when I get a proposal signed, that invoice gets created that day and we send the invoice that day. And many of our projects, it's due, the first half of the project cost is due upon receipt. Some people, you'll write these payment terms for themselves, where it's like, "You don't have to pay us until net 60." Or like 60 days later. I was like, "Why would you, why do you hate yourself? "Why do you hate getting paid?" I don't get it. Last part of this, I do think it's important to have a proactive list of people in companies that you're interested in working with. Especially top of mine. So you might decide, you know I really wanna work in the fash casual business, I wanna work with a Chipotle or Panera Bread for example. Or you might wanna say, this is actually real for us, we wanna work with some airlines. We've never done that work, and I spend half my life on a plane, so I might as well get some money back. We did work with Geico in our first year, and those project fees, I was like, "Oh, that's repaid all of my car insurance for life, cool." You never get a check from your car insurance company, right? So we wanna work with airlines, you line 'em up. And then you start to track lightly like, what happened? I emailed them, or I called, I'm gonna call 'em back on the fourth. Or had breakfast in New York, they said follow up in April when they're ready to move forward with something else. So a proactive tab I think is useful. If you don't have a proactive list, I wouldn't feel bad about it. I didn't integrate a proactive tab until like two years ago. Literally just, there was so much inbound I couldn't even imagine pretending to care to actually reach out to anybody. Which is a traumatically fortunate position to be in. And I understand that that's perhaps unique, but now that we're at a certain size my time is more and more freed up to just think about this kind of stuff. I'm like, like to work with an airline. Mohawk Airlines. Anyone who watches MadMen, sorry it's a bad joke. You can use this tracker that's been provided for anybody who's RSVP'd. Or if you wanna get more fancy there's lots of software you could use. Contactually I think is really a great tool for this. It's all based on your email, so as you're emailing someone you could hit a button and bucket them as a prospect. And it captures all that so you don't have to really do anything else. Or you could use Pipedrive, which I know is a popular tool. I never got into it. My CMO and I, we use our Google spreadsheet, have forever, don't feel the need to use any other software. I know that DJ our CMO, he uses Contactually specifically, I don't. I find that some people get sort of fixated on the software, and then they get fixated on filling it up with stuff. And then they never talk to anybody. And they feel like they did a good job prospecting. Which I think is ridiculous. So don't let the software get in the way of actual sales. I like the minimum, viable approach, which is use a Google spreadsheet. If you wanna use an offline Excel doc of course, you can do so.
Before we move on to our next lesson, I just wanna check in with our students here in the studio. I wanna hear from you, like what have you guys been doing for prospecting? Have you been using any of the software? Do you have your own formulas? Just wanna take a minute or two to see how you guys are doin'. Anybody wanna share, what they've been using?
How does prospecting work in your worlds?
So I am a story writer and poet, and I do like free poetry writing in the park, but I'm realizing I can use Eventbrite to get their email addresses and invite people before I go there. I've done like Facebook events, but I've never, yeah.
Facebook events are obviously great from a viral reach point of view, but you collect zero consumer data, which is not so helpful for remarketing purposes. Yeah, very good.
Auggie, what do you got?
We use our whiteboard. That's a big one for us. And we use Google spreadsheets to kind of keep tabs and also kind of track the things that are showing up in our networks and so you know the little Google alerts. Like all right who's doing what? And I also use LinkedIn sales navigator, which alerts you about your networks. I've found that especially helpful. I used it for a, I'm gonna say it, a cold campaign that I did, that I actually inked a deal on and so like I used the free trial to kind of test it out and then once I made the deal I just went ahead and bought it, and hope I use it again. If I don't, it's okay.
So you track a dollar pipeline, like I showed on the screen or no?
Very good, and do you know like how much you have to have in the pipeline 'cause you close X on average per month and all that?
Awesome. Do you wanna take, you should take my place on the stage.
Well knowing and having the little color coded boxes, it's a great feeling, but only when you can fill the deals.
Yeah, that's what it's all about. Awesome, go ahead.
I have a side business of jewelry, diamond jewelry. And I feel like trade shows, doing trade shows, and really focusing on one thing on that day has been really helpful. Like booking appointments for instance, if you're doing custom and not like doing ten things during one day has been helpful, on like following up.
Focus, focus, focus.
On following up rather than, yeah.