The Pipeline is Key: Here’s Why Being Reactive is Not Enough

Struggling to keep your pipeline filled? Learn why reactive marketing might be holding you back, and what you can do about it.

Kyle Van Deusen


Filed Under:

Processes, Sales, Strategy

Kyle Van Deusen

Kyle Van Deusen

The Admin Bar

After spending 15 years as a graphic designer and earning a business degree, I launched my agency, OGAL Web Design, in 2017. A year later, after finding the amazing community around WordPress, I co-found The Admin Bar, which has grown to become the #1 community for WordPress professionals. I'm a husband and proud father of three, and a new resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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Despite what a lot of people say, fishing isn't just a waiting game, you've got to use the right bait, with the right hook, and you can't just sit back and relax. You have to be ready to reel in that next fish any chance you get. 

Why am I talking about fishing? Well, your prospect pipeline is exactly the same. 

A lot of web developers wait for work to come to them. 

They're sitting back, hoping that sooner or later, a big fish is going to land into their laps with a big paycheck and recurring revenue to save the day. 

Instead of looking for the right spots to cast out their net, many web developers and agency owners solely focus on the clients they have now. They're wishing, praying, and hoping for repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals. They're not taking a proactive approach to finding new clients that would be an excellent fit for them. 

If you're one of these people who thinks being reactive is more manageable and that you have ‘enough work from referrals,' then I am here today to tell you that you're wrong (and I’ve been there, no judgement here). 

Want your business to thrive? I’m not being overdramatic when I say it's critical to be proactive about your pipeline and get in contact regularly with people who you think would be an excellent fit for your agency. 

Stop Looking For Work Only When You Need It

At the moment, you might be swamped for work. Business is booming, and thinking about getting more work into your business (and delivering it) just doesn't sound possible, or pleasant.

But this way of working isn’t reliable. 

Don’t get me wrong, referrals are great and word of mouth is pure marketing gold… but you can’t rely on them. If you do, you’re putting your company’s success in other people’s hands. 

When you rely solely on passive prospects, you have no control over your company’s growth (or workflow).

What if a good referrer retires? 

What if their industry goes into meltdown? 

You find yourself with no work, and in a desperate panic trying to figure out what to do next. 

Looking for work last minute can put a severe strain on you, your team, and your business. It'll force you to scramble for whatever you can get and take on projects that are a bad fit for your business. 

The process from initial contact to a prospect signing the proposal can be a long one. If you're in a desperate spot to fill your team’s plates in an unexpected dry period, you won't have the time to go through your discovery and onboarding processes properly. This can cause work to get sloppy, and your clients left feeling they’ve been shortchanged. 

To keep your standards high (both in who you work with and the work you put out) it's critical to control your own sales pipeline.

Being Reactive Doesn’t Get You The Projects You Want 

When you run a reactive pipeline, you'll find yourself working on projects that you don't really have any interest in. 

Say you did a fantastic website for a building company, but you didn't exactly enjoy doing that project. Well, all of his buddies are going to come looking for a website too. They've seen how well you did his site, so they want theirs done next. 

With this kind of system, you're going to get people in niches you don't want to work with looking to constantly work with you. 

Or, it could be the complete opposite. 

One moment you're doing a website on carpentry, and the next, you have to come up with the perfect website for a pharmaceutical company. 

Without a controlled, proactive pipeline, you won't control the quantity, type, or quality of enquiries you get. 

Being proactive means:

  • You can seek out the kind of projects you want to take on 
  • You don't have to take on whatever shows up at your doorstep  
  • You get to choose the projects that are right for your company (and say no to the ones that aren’t)

Relying On Referrals & Repeat Business = Recipe For Disaster

Referrals are great, don't get me wrong, and who doesn't love a bit of repeat business from a client you know will pay on time. 

I’m not saying that referrals and repeat business are wrong. It’s just that relying solely on this sort of business can get you into trouble. 

When you rely on repeat business and referrals for most of your work, you have to take into account:

  • Where your clients will be in the future – a month, a year, a decade – will they still be in the same position, needing your help?
  • If your point of contact will always be at the company, for example, are they moving jobs or retiring?
  • Will the business merge with another or close down post-Covid? 

If you rely on repeat business or referrals, any of these factors could cut your list of clients significantly. If you rely on a whale client for the bulk of your work, you could be in dire straits if they pull their contract with you. 

But, when you have a proactive pipeline, you'll be able to take on all that great referral work and reach out to new prospects if the referrals dry up. 

How To Create A Proactive Pipeline For Your Agency

Now that you know why you have to create a proactive pipeline, it's time to figure out exactly how you're going to do it. 

Here are three valuable tips to building yourself a proactive pipeline that works for you, your staff, and your business. 

1. Make A Plan And Stick To It

You can't do anything without a plan, so this is tip number one for getting yourself a proactive pipeline.

Your plan can include things like:

  • Attending networking events and industry trade shows
  • Asking potential clients for introductions
  • Updating your social media and website consistently to attract more clients
  • Arranging meetings with potential prospects and following up with them within a set timeframe
  • Outlining (or perfecting) your new client onboarding process

Most importantly, your plan needs to have DEADLINES. I know, I know, our lives are filled with deadlines – but seriously, set yourself SMART goals and you’ll fill your pipeline in no time.

2. Use A Pipeline Management Software

Monitoring and managing leads can be time consuming and challenging – let’s be honest, it’s probably one of the reasons you stopped being proactive about sales in the first place. 

Using a management software like Pipedrive, you can make managing your pipeline as easy and stress-free as possible. 

Pipeline management software can help you:

  • Maintain a clear overview of all sales activities 
  • Keep you up to date with the performance of your company
  • Follow up with every prospect, so you never drop a sale 
  • Automate your workflow so you can close more deals
  • Track calls and emails
  • Set goals so you can reach your sales targets
  • Make more time for yourself by eliminating repetitive tasks through automation

Me? I use a Google Sheet. I keep it open in my browser and check through it every morning as I start my day. 

3. Take Part In The Prospect Pipeline Challenge

My last tip for creating a more proactive pipeline is to join in the Prospect Pipeline Challenge. 

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This challenge is specifically designed to help you control the quality and quantity of leads coming into your business. It helps you build up a daily habit that you can use to fill your prospect pipeline. 

Every day of the challenge, you'll have the opportunity to earn points by meeting specific objectives. You'll also be sent reminders, tips, and motivation to help push you towards your goal. 

If you complete all the objectives and beat the challenge, then you'll finally be rewarded with a pipeline full of prospects eager to work with you. Plus, you'll have created a daily habit that you can use to continue getting more prospects into your pipeline in the future. 

By joining the Prospect Pipeline Challenge, you’ll be joining other agency owners in making 2021 your year for the best sales figures of your career. 

Start pushing your business towards the right kinds of clients today.

If you want to take control of your pipeline, join us over at the Prospect Pipeline Challenge!

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Kyle Van Deusen

Kyle Van Deusen

The Admin Bar

After spending 15 years as a graphic designer and earning a business degree, I launched my agency, OGAL Web Design, in 2017. A year later, after finding the amazing community around WordPress, I co-found The Admin Bar, which has grown to become the #1 community for WordPress professionals. I'm a husband and proud father of three, and a new resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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