Are your deals stuck? Get a framework for leads from the time of Coronavirus. Plus, Harris explains the format for the show, talks about his pipeline, and shares some exciting personal news.
For the first full episode, Harris put together a worksheet that you can use to go through and audit your pipeline. Whether these leads came in before or during the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s worth taking a step back and getting a sense of what you’re really working with.
He put together a framework that will help you put those leads into one of six buckets, so you get take control. If you have leads that feel stuck, try this out. Listen to the episode or read the episode transcript.
Download the spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel or LibreOffice file formats below:
Harris shares his planned the format for the show, his own pipeline, and some exciting personal news.
Also, shout outs to:
This episode includes references to:
Justin Jackson and Jon Buda’s podcast Build Your SaaS. (They’re the co-founders of Transistor.fm!) Listen to the referenced episode:
Harris’ other podcast, Hello Blink Show, which he co-hosts with Shawn Hymel. Hear the latest episode here:
Pipeline Meeting is a sales podcast for founders and sales leaders. If you are looking for actionable steps to close high ticket deals, you’re in the right place. Tune in for help with things like cold outreach and qualifying inbound leads. We regularly feature guests and experts to take our business to the next level. Pipeline Meeting is hosted by Harris Kenny, the founder of Intro, a company that provides sales as a service.
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If you feel alone managing your business’ sales pipeline. Welcome. Consider this your invitation to join me, Harris Kenny, for a regular sales pipeline meeting, we’ll discuss finding new business and pricing, cashflow, things like getting ghosted, winning proposals, new technology, and a lot more brought to you by intro CRM.
Harris Kenny: (00:41)
Wow. I am really happy to see the amount of interest in this show. Whether it’s the reviews on Apple Podcasts or just the downloads, personal messages I’ve heard from people… I’m very excited to say that. I think that this is something that people are interested in. I’m going to start today’s episode talking about the format of the show briefly. I’m going to talk about my pipeline and then I’m going to share a framework that you can use to think about your deals and how they’ve been affected by the Coronavirus. First, the format. I’m thinking about having a single story, model, maybe a statistic, that you can take and apply to your business to managing your pipeline. Each episode, I’ll also talk about my own business pipeline. I’ve got a few different projects, so there’ll be lots of different ways to think about how I’m running my own business. Let’s start there.
My Business’ Pipeline and Yours
Harris Kenny: (01:48)
My wife and I have some very exciting personal news this fall. In fact, maybe a month? We are expecting our first child: a baby girl. Knowing that I’m going to have my hands full there. I’ve been pretty busy this summer working on building up my pipeline and my active projects. A) I’m going to be busy, but B)… Babies are not cheap. So we’ve had lots of new things that we’ve needed to get. And we’ve had many friends and family and be very generous in helping offset some of those costs. But there have been a few different reasons why I’ve wanted to get the business in motion.
Harris Kenny: (02:30)
One of the ways that I did that was by leveraging some existing ways that I was communicating with the world. You know, my business has a few different projects associated with it. One is focused on open hardware called OSHdata. Another is a podcast called Hello Blink Show that I cohost with Sean Hymel—you should check it out. So I leveraged these different tools to start up some more conversations and get some new business going. And I’m excited that there are two new deals in particular, my first two clients in Europe. I’ve adapted my business to work with new businesses in new ways, and to help meet a personal consideration of mine as it relates to, you know, being less available later and needing more money in the short term to cover some costs. And my question for you, for your pipeline, as you look ahead… As you look through the end of the year, are there going to be times when you’re less available? Are there going to be times when you think your customers may be less available? Now is the time to think about that. August is almost over. As we enter September, we’ll have four months left, the back end, final third of the year.
Harris Kenny: (03:45)
What can you do now to make that time less stressful later? What can you do now to maybe line up some business in January so that you have a smoother on-ramp into the new year? You’ve got time to think about that—now. So take a minute and think about it. I spent the summer planning head for the baby, and I’m glad to say that it was effective. It worked out. It’s, you know, made things a little less stressful. Now, even though I do have some more work to do, I’ll take it. I’d rather that right now. So think about that. That’s my challenge for you. I understand that there’s a lot going on, but try to look ahead. Think about the gaps that are coming up in the year. Different industries are going to have different types of gaps. You may be a consumer oriented business and you may be coming up on your biggest time of the year in quarter four (Q4). You know, the holidays may pay for your whole year, if you may be doing that much sales. So maybe just think about preparing for that. But anyway, look ahead. We’ve got four months left. What does that look like for you?
Auditing Your Pipeline for Coronavirus
Harris Kenny: (04:45)
Jumping into the model that I want to share in this episode… Because this is a theme I’ve seen across my client work on multiple different clients, multiple different industries that they’re working in, product categories, and my own business as well.
Harris Kenny: (05:04)
There’s a little set of categories. I’d like you to think about all of your current leads and your deals. Okay. And now I’m going to describe this to you, but if you go to the show notes, you can click it and you can see the image, or you can find Intro CRM on social media, on Twitter. It’ll be posted there as well. First, just think of a two by two matrix. So on the X axis, I want you to think about the duration and in the Y axis, I want you to think about the direction and what we’re talking about is the impact of coronavirus. Okay?
Harris Kenny: (05:47)
So in the bottom left, you’ve got negative impact for a temporary time period. Top left, you’ve got a positive impact. Coronavirus has had a positive impact on your business, but only temporarily on the bottom, right? You’ve got again, negative impact, but a lasting negative impact on the business. And then in the top, right, we’ve got a positive impact, but a lasting positive impact—over a longer period of time. Okay? So a two by two matrix with direction of the impact, positive or negative on the Y axis and duration in the X axis, temporary or lasting.
Harris Kenny: (06:38)
Outside of that matrix, I want you to think about two additional buckets. One is unknown, which is that you don’t know the direction or the duration impact of the coronavirus on your leads, on your deals, because you haven’t done deep enough customer development, work asking deep enough questions to understand your leads and what they’re grappling with within their business.
Harris Kenny: (07:06)
Then in the other separate bucket, outside of the matrix, unknowable, this is where for whatever reason, even if you do know them and you had lots of conversations with them, it’s just unclear what the direction is going to look like for their business. And we’re going to consider that to be a separate thing that there’s not a lot we can do about in the short term. Okay. So again, this might be hard to visualize just the audio, but go to the show notes for a link to the image will be on IntroCRM.com and we’ll be posting it on Twitter as well. So you can see this image and I will make a spreadsheet available on IntroCRM.com so that you could download it and pop different leads or deals in there if you’d like.
Harris Kenny: (07:51)
And to give you a couple of examples now of where I would place sample leads or deals from my work in my client work and into this sort of mental model, first one is unknown. So this is a tough one. We had—this is a client of mine that makes a product that’s used in testing, and it was an international lead. We were only able to communicate with them really via email. We were never able to figure out who specifically on the team had this problem. It was very surface level about what they were doing. Really didn’t get our heads wrapped around that either. You know, looking through our notes in these conversations, you really don’t have a sense of what the problem they had was. We just knew that because they were talking to us, they were generally interested in the product. Working on staying in touch with them, sending emails with some regularity and the last email just bounced back, ah, that person’s there anymore. Don’t know why, I don’t know how their business was affected. I don’t know if this person was let go for a reason, or if they quit, or if they changed their email address, you know, this was a seemingly interesting lead, but we just didn’t get the customer development work in. So we just don’t know what happened. Assuming those leads that you have aren’t dead yet. You want to get more clarity on what’s going on with those folks. You’ve got to have a better idea of what’s happening there. Just having it sit in some stage in some pipeline. Isn’t good enough.
Harris Kenny: (09:32)
Okay. Jumping into the matrix, I’m just going to drop two examples in here, and then we’re going to wrap. The first one is a negatively impacted business for a short term or a temporary period. I’ve got a client who sells a product that’s used in the education market. They had budget freezes, public governmental budgets were very affected by the coronavirus. And so there was lots of freezes education—in particular was very affected. But the prospective customer, the buyer, stayed in touch. And so this was a temporary situation that eventually has gotten better and they came back placing a fairly significant five-figure order. That’s great if you’ve got people like that in your pipeline where you know that it’s a temporary effect, your goal then is to stay in touch and continue to add value for them. So that when they’re ready, you’re ready.
Harris Kenny: (10:31)
Finally, we’ve got a business that’s positively affected, but it appears to be temporary. And I’m actually going to use the podcasting hosting service, Transistor.fm. As the example here, I was just listening to Justin’s podcast, where he talked about how they had some really big months earlier this year, that appears to be slowing down for them. It’s a little unclear. They’re still seeing just like everyone else what’s happening with the business. But if you’ve got—if you’re riding a wave or if you have customers who are riding a wave, particularly if they’re in some type of digital service, you still want to try to seize on this momentum because things may settle back down. Now think about on their side for whatever your potential clients are thinking about. They may be thinking about what’s next. How do we maintain this growth that we had? Or how do we reinvest the money that we just made in order to be in a stronger position as a business to make the most of this over the long run.
Harris Kenny: (11:29)
So these are some ways that you can think about your pipeline. In general, honestly, most of the leads that I’ve seen that had come in during—or right before the coronavirus—most of those appear to have fizzled out. However, it is the new ones that are coming in that seem to be moving really fast and deals are happening quickly. So if that’s helpful for you, please let me know.
Harris Kenny: (11:52)
If you have stories you’d like to share about managing deals, closing deals, let me know for future episodes, we’ll be doing this probably once a week with episodes generally around 10 minutes. And I really look forward to sharing more practical tips for managing your deals and helping you grow your business.
Thanks for listening to Pipeline Meeting. The theme music is by Neighborhood Vandal and is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution—or CC BY—license. To learn more, read the show notes, and continue the conversation, visit IntroCRM.com.