Disclaimer: No imaginary cats were harmed during the writing of this blog.
When you are growing a business a large part of your effort is focused on getting your message out there and generating enquiries and leads for your new business.
You work hard at defining your niche, identifying your target market and directing your marketing activity for maximum effect. Slowly, but surely, those enquiries start to build. You diligently log every one of them, and you watch the list develop. Over the days and weeks as your list grows so does your confidence.
It’s incredibly exciting and encouraging to see the number of your opportunities grow – soon the length of the list validates your decision to be self-employed, and provides hope that you will be able to make a good living. But don’t fall into the trap of believing that the length of your list is the most important factor.
In 1935 Austrian physicist, Erwin Schrödinger, devised his thought experiment now commonly known as Schrödinger’s Cat. In essence, Schrödinger suggests that if you put a cat in a sealed box with a radioactive substance, a Geiger counter and a flask of poison, until you open the box you don’t know whether the radioactive substance has leaked setting off the Geiger counter and triggering the release of the poison, or not. Therefore, until you open the box you also don’t know whether the cat has survived and is dead or alive.
Similarly, unless you are tracking all your sales opportunities, and you are in touch with all your prospects regularly, you don’t know whether they are an actual opportunity or not. It can be tempting not to follow up in case you discover the opportunity has evaporated and your list diminishes, but you need to be brave so that you can accurately assess the state of your pipeline.
Business development can sometimes feel a little like ‘Groundhog Day’ – as soon as you experience the exhilaration of a win, you need to be focused on generating at least one new opportunity to replace it in your pipeline. You need a really effective combination of a strong strategy and a powerful process to drive opportunities through to decision as quickly and smoothly as possible. Resting on your laurels is not an option and is a pretty sure-fire way to find yourself wondering where your next customer is coming from.
So, take a deep breath, take a look at your pipeline and honestly assess how many of them you think are real opportunities. If you’re not sure, pick up the phone and check. Make sure that the opportunities you think you have are genuine. Be brave – it’s the only way to know the true health of your pipeline!