Keeping Your Pipeline Full

Article by Kristine CareyIf you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’re likely familiar with the phrase “filling the pipeline.” Or in other words, making sure you’ve got enough people potentially interested in your services to keep your business going. As important as this is, and as much sense as it makes, it’s amazing how often it doesn’t happen.

OverflowingLet me give you an example. I have a colleague we’ll call Joe. He’s a coach and consultant in corporations, an excellent speaker, master networker, and has a real fireball personality. It seems he knows everyone on the planet and they all know what he does, and as a result he gets a lot of business. When we talked a while back he was so busy, in fact, that his schedule was full, he wasn’t seeking any new business, and he was running to keep up with everything. Our more recent conversation was entirely different, however: he didn’t have a stitch of work, no prospects on the horizon, and was watching his hard earned savings dwindle away. He stayed in that state for three months, and what time was left over after beating the bushes for work was spent fretting about how this happened. Eventually he got work going again and I’m happy to report he’s doing well.

What did happen? As you can guess, he forgot to fill the pipeline. He was so busy fulfilling on what he had generated that he didn’t have time to devote to all those things he would normally do to keep his pipeline full. It’s an easy trap to fall into (I know it all too well myself), which prompts the question, how do you keep your pipeline full, whether you’re busy or just in the normal flow of things?

My favorite thing to do is pick one or two things that I really like and make them a habit. That way, even when I’m distracted by a lot of work or other things in life, I’ve got a mechanism in place that helps to generate leads. Currently, my main strategy of this type is a regular networking group that meets every Friday. It’s the same people and same location every week, which allows us to get to know each other well, and as they encounter potential customers for me they introduce us. While this isn’t enough to fill my entire business, it is enough to keep my foot gently on the “filling the pipeline” gas pedal, and sometimes that’s all I need.

What’s your favorite way to fill the pipeline? Rephrasing the question, what do you really like to do, that puts you in touch with people you enjoy being around, and who are either potential customers for you or can be referral partners to those customers? Now look at your calendar and see where you can place that activity several times per month, and give yourself permission to spend your time putting your foot on that pedal. If you do this, chances are you won’t ever wake up in the same dilemma that Joe did!

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I like your idea of creating a habit. I have to start thinking about marketing/sales even when I have enough business. I like to call or email former clients. That action always leads to great conversations even if it doesn’t produce immediately a paying client. I can turn this into a habit. I think I can commit to contacting an old client every week. Even if I am busy, I can send an email or text. Thanks for the advice.

That’s great, Sharmil – Just doing that one thing can make a huge difference, and since you like it it’ll feel easy to do, too!