Vetting your pipeline is a game of chance; it’s taking the time and energy to figure out which leads have a higher probability of turning into sales than others. So how do you calculate this probability, and thus confidently forecast your monthly, quarterly, and annual sales? Well, you have to start by understanding all of the variables that go into developing your pipeline. You have an existing customer base with the potential to place new orders, and you have an existing pipeline of customers in the current markets that you serve, but there are countless potential customers you might not even know about yet, and even if you do know of them, you might not have the necessary information to reach out to them in a meaningful way that will earn their trust and ultimately their business. Outside of the number of prospect customers, you also have to consider the size, variation, and time commitment of each potential order.
Now, although this may seem daunting at a high level, there are solutions.
Depending on the size of your company, the first step is to prioritize the time you spend on companies that either have the highest likelihood of closing a contract or have the largest contract size. By investing time into cold leads that can better impact your sales, you are essentially warming them up and taking the next step towards a worthwhile conversation with your prospective new customer. Some ways of doing this include investigating market trends or looking up company-specific stats, both of which can pave the way for a meaningful conversation without sacrificing lots of time or resources.
So why is this important?
By researching potential customers and having meaningful conversations with your prospects, you’re building trust and placing confidence in the products and/or services you’re offering. Instead of receiving an impersonal cold call from someone who knows nothing about their business, the companies in question are having real discussions relevant to their specific needs or challenges. At the end of the day, talking with your customers (as opposed to talking at them) and nurturing the relationship increases the likelihood of closing a deal and thus generating new sales.
MAGNET's commercialization center is helping to jumpstart this process for many local companies. By engaging with the commercialization center, companies receive access to a team of analysts that conduct high-value market research using data about a company's current customer base, historic customer base, and/or lists of brand-new prospects. MAGNET's team helps companies compile market intelligence to determine both their most valuable customers (MVCs) and most valuable prospects (MVPs). These strategies in turn help companies prioritize and target the appropriate clientele, thus capturing more sales and guiding the companies towards the necessary next steps for long-term growth.
Thanks to generous funding from the Cleveland Foundation, the Accelerate Cleveland Manufacturing (ACM) initiative combines the proven assets of MAGNET and WIRE-Net to address the needs of Cleveland Manufacturing companies by delivering customized, tailored solutions to help medium to small manufacturing firms grow. In the past 24 months the ACM team, working with WIRE-Net's CIRI team, has identified and worked on 48 growth projects in the City of Cleveland affecting 66 job positions (17 new jobs created, 49 retained jobs) and generating $12.5 million in revenue impact (increased sales or cost savings).