But might this measure discourage sufficient activity in developing the sales pipeline? One firm I worked with found that it took, on average, three years to win a significant mandate from the first connection with the client. Maybe they weren’t very good at it, but we can all accept that it might take a few meetings to establish our credibility, build rapport and become trusted with each of the key stakeholders at the client.
Firms obviously need to encourage BD activity to ensure there is income in the future.
So here’s a way of measuring progress in the pipeline and early client phases. It’s a ten-point scale. You can adapt it to suit your own business activities.
0 – I doubt they’ve heard of us
1 – We have met and exchanged contact details
2 – We’ve had a business development meeting
3 – They’ve opened up to us and shared their plans
4 – They have called us for advice
5 – They have invited us to pitch
6 – We have started work for Joe (ie fees being earned)
7 – Joe has given us another project (ie follow up work)
8 – I have introduced a colleague, who is working for Joe (ie x-selling)
9 – We are now working with Joe’s colleagues (ie further x-selling)
10 – They have referred us to another client
A professional advisor might, for example, have the objective of moving a handful of target clients from a 1 to a 3 or 4 over the course of a year.
Furthermore, it should be emphasised that each of these stages are verifiable. They either invited you to pitch, or not.
Would your firm benefit from using a system based on this approach? I’d be interested to learn how other firms encourage activities to develop their pipeline.