are your sales pipeline stages really sociable?

Is your pipeline process really sociable? And by that I mean relationship based.

All of us who are involved in new business winning will have used a sales pipeline. Perhaps drawn from software such as ACT! or Goldmine or bespoke to your business process based on many years of marketing and sales.

I recently started work with a client with whom I first made face-to-face contact in 2009! This client was a prospect in my sales pipeline for all that time – so for about 4 years. I am delighted to now be doing business with this client. The need and want thing comes to mind. I (and possibly they) believed they “needed” my services 4 years ago but they did not “want” my services until now.

This long gestation period has brought three things into sharp focus for me:

  • One variation of the often cited 3 P’s in selling – politeness,  patience and persistence
  • The power of a contact management system – ACT! in my case, and
  • Penny Power. When I first joined the e-cademy network some 10 years ago now, Penny cited a relationship sequence that I have never forgotten

know me

like me

trust me

As my recent new business example illustrates we never know how long it will take for all three boxes to be ticked by our prospective customer.

I then got to thinking more deeply and wondered how the Know me, Like me, Trust me (KMLMTM) model mapped onto traditional pipeline stages. So I prepared the following:

the relationship pipeline


Trust comes before buy

What happens when the sequence is compressed or jumped?

This week I met with a prospective client who has not only proved that the KMLMTM sequence is needed to reach a healthy conclusion but he has borrowed my watch and is now telling me the time. And I am supposed to be the consultant in the relationship!

In a one hour credentials meeting – the first with this prospective client – I explained what I would do to help. He frantically wrote copious notes.

I received the thank you email the next day in which I was told I could be ill-afforded to hand-hold them through the work I had outlined and that they would proceed with the initial stage without me. The email included an almost verbatim transcript of what I said in my hour. What a memory!

The point of this somewhat ironic and amusing story (it really makes me smile) is that this prospect doesn’t (or didn’t)  know me; as a result can’t yet like me; and therefore doesn’t trust that I will add value to the process.

It shows very starkly that KMLMTM model applies equally to both the seller and buyer in the process and that actually all successful sales activity is truly based on a relationship. After all, people buy from people.

So to conclude I think I would like to add one more stage to Penny’s relationship based pipeline:

know me

like me

trust me

respect me

About Leslie Woodcock

Leslie is the founder director of Enigma. He is an experienced strategy consultant and marketer and has a strong senior executive c.v.

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One Response to are your sales pipeline stages really sociable?

  1. Richard Mott August 16, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    It makes sense that Trust is required before a client buys your services but sometimes, if you are pitching for a piece of business (ie the client already has a need and is looking for someone to fulfill), you can win the piece of work before you have had the chance to build up Trust. By recognising this, you can put extra time and effort into building Trust during the process.

    In line with this, the building of Trust throughout the working relationship leads to the Respect you speak about – and with ultimate trust and respect comes the pinnacle of consulting where you and your client can explore together with an open brief and a flexible budget … the greatest way to create dynamic innovation.

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