What Sales Experts Do to Keep Their Sales Pipeline Up and Running

Businesses have been constantly evolving for the last twenty years and are starting to adopt a different approach to lead conversion. Unlike traditional outbound marketing, ‘soft sales approach’ involve several stages in the customer’s journey which lead to a sale or repeat business.

This process can be seen in a company’s sales pipeline. Sales pipeline can be viewed in different ways but the basic idea is the same: “How do I get my leads from point A to point B, and what does it take to get them there?”

Stages in a Sales Pipeline

Companies differ as to the exact number of stages in a sales pipeline. However, most companies will agree that six to seven stages hits the sweet spot. We’ll go through each stage and see  how experts lead their prospects from one point to another.

Stage 1 — Generate High Quality Leads

Sales and marketing experts would often use the social media, invite people to a social event, or use an effective content marketing strategy to get as many potential customers as possible.  Making the sale at this point is the least of their concerns.  It’s more about getting people interested in what they have to offer.

Stage 2 — Educate Leads about the Benefits

What’s in it for them? Leads should be able to see clearly how a  company or a specific product can help solve their ‘pain points’ through opt-in subscription to weekly posts or monthly newsletters.  Email automation and autoresponders  can help accomplish the task via drip emails.

Stage 3 — Get Feedback from Viewers and Subscribers

Being able to collect information from opt-in viewers and subscribers allows businesses to refocus their strategies and be able to address individual needs.  Some  CRM applications like Small Business Dream enable business owners to collect information from online subscribers and viewers using a survey engine, similar to Google Surveys offered in Google Analytics Solutions.

Stage 4 — Qualify Prospects

This stage will assess the possibility of converting leads to business opportunities,  by weighing certain factors such as viewing activity (click and open rate), specific interests, occupation, income, and so on. The result will determine whether they would eventually turn into opportunities or if they needed more time in the previous  stages (Stage 2 and 3).

Stage 5 — Assign Lead Scores

Each qualified prospect receives a lead score which indicates his level of interest. Investing more time and money on  a qualified lead is considered profitable since the likelihood of conversion is very high. Those who received higher scores are given more priority while those at the lower end can be cycled back to Stage 2 or 3.

Stage 6 — Close the Deal

This stage provides the end-result of all the marketing efforts  to win a potential customer. Some of the best-known practices at this stage include upselling and cross-selling. Others will include a ‘post-sale’ where customers are encouraged to patronize their product through follow-ups and having them sign up for loyalty or point cards.

Maintaining a Healthy Sales Pipeline

Maintaining a steady flow of leads, opportunities, and sales is critical in any business. If at any stage the sales pipeline gets bogged down and fail to meet their goals, the company could take a hit and seriously affect their bottom line. Some ways to keep the sales pipeline up and running include:

  • Checking the conversion rates by stage
  • Making constant improvements on every stage
  • Closely monitoring the sales cycle
  • Holding regular sales pipeline meetings

Running a business shouldn’t be too overwhelming with today’s modern CRM that can store, analyze, and keep businesses attuned to the customers’ needs.

At Small Business Dream, we give you the most up-to-date CRM software to keep track of your customers and provide you with the right information to stay in business.

Even the Government Uses CRM – Here’s Why

When we think of Customer Relationship Management, we normally associate the phrase with big corporations and business institutions.

For quite some time, CRM has been used successfully to attract and maintain good relationships with customers by improving customer service and maintaining constant interaction with them.

It is also a cost-effective way of increasing revenue through targeted leads and emphasizing customer loyalty as opposed to traditional marketing strategies that use expensive ads and gimmicks to get customer attention.

One of the hallmarks of CRM is its ability to respond immediately to customer’s needs and requests — something which most government agencies are incapable of.

Even today, the majority of the public sector still relies on antiquated methods of data storage and data analysis to do their job. Compare this to businesses in the private sector that employ CRM and you will notice just how fast they are able to respond and adapt to their customer’s needs.

Public Service and Customer Service – the BIG Difference

When you go to a hair salon or restaurant with good customer service, their employees make it a point to treat you like their boss and  make you feel important, respected, and cared for.

When doing business with a publicly owned institution, you might be able to see the difference because in most cases you are treated way better in commercial establishments than those in the public sector.

The difference between the public and private sector is the way they treat their clients. Most public institutions look at their people as subjects who don’t have much of a choice other than to make use of what is made available for them, and to “pay taxes to whom taxes are due.”

Businesses, on the other hand, stand to lose money. If they don’t have enough customers to keep the ball rolling, they are at risk of losing their business. For the government, it’s probably more than just losing money; they stand to lose the very people who makes them.

How CRM Will Benefit the Government 

In this day and age, we don’t need clunky machines and outdated systems to handle large amount of data. We don’t have to settle for painfully slow and overly bureaucratic way of planning, decision-making, and implementation.

Here’s how CRM will allow the public sector to function in the most efficient way possible:

  • Greatly enhance e-Government implementation — People who have been working in the government knew just how important it is to organize and systematize their tasks to meet their deadlines and avoid getting swamped with pending jobs and unfinished paper work; hence the adoption of the so-called e-Government. This modern approach  to governance helps eliminate time-consuming tasks, thereby increasing efficiency and cutting down on operational costs.
  • Collaborate with other agencies more efficiently — Most government agencies struggle to make their jobs faster because of the very nature of how the system works which involves collaborative planning, decision-making, and execution. Functions within the departments, bureaus, and agencies are also interdependent on each other. CRM can be used as a tool to coordinate these tasks and provide a seamless experience to their constituents.
  • Be more responsive to people’s needs — Some countries are looking into the possibility of incorporating CRM when responding to inquiries and complaints. Others have already been working with software companies to provide them with CRM applications suitable for public use. Before, they used to have suggestion boxes in conspicuous places. Software companies offer a better solution by providing a CRM app that links every citizen to the public sector and respond to their needs the same way a privately-owned business enterprise handles every customer.
  • Pro-active approach  to problem solving  Most of the time, the public sector could only respond to current situations but not so much in preventing them from happening  in the future by taking a proactive approach.  With CRM, governments can accurately measure how well or how bad their strategy was so they can plan out well and be able to anticipate any problem that may arise.

To learn more on how you can apply CRM to your small business or any business endeavor, feel free to visit Small Business Dream and we’ll help you out and work things to better improve your customer service and increase your sales.

Are you ready to Growth Hack Your Real Estate Sales?

I want to start with my own short story about my real estate, real estate agent, and realtor experience, and please understand that I’m not saying real estate agents and professionals are all as bad as the ones that I seemed to have found, but wow, do I think there may be some room for improvement! I used a real estate agent and bought eight rental properties in a period of about 18 months. You may be surprised to know but all 8 were with different realtors.

There is a simple rule with most things sales related. If I do not get properly followed up with, I go to the next real estate agent or salesperson who may actually have enough respect of our relationship to follow up not just up to the sale, but AFTER IT.

If you can believe it, even knowing I was buying rental properties that were cash flow positive, and I had a budget to buy 7 or 8, n o t o n e sin gle real estate agent followed up after the initial sale! All my realtors were very at following up until they MADE THE SALE and got paid their real estate commission.

Realtors and Real Estate Agent’s Little Known Technique if you can believe it, even knowing I was buying rental properties that were cash flow positive, and I had a budget to buy 7 or 8, not one single real estate agent followed up after the initial sale! All my realtors were VERY GOOD at following up until they MADE THE SALE and got paid their real estate commission.

AFTER the Sale, not a “hello, are you happy with the place I helped you buy?”, not a “hey didn’t you say you were looking for a few more cash flow properties in the area, well I found a few that may work for you”, not a happy birthday, not even an “I hated working with you don’t call me again”.


So that got me thinking the other day about how cool it would be to see just how Small Business Dream may help a real estate agent make larger commissions and REDUCE a lot of busy work.

I started to think about myself as a home owner, the things I learned over the years that were cool as far as maintaining a property and how it affects resale. I imagined how happy I would have been with my real estate agent if they took the time to give me some after care on my primary residence, OR on my rental properties.

I’d like to share just 3 great reasons to follow up with your real estate clients. These are just a few reasons that you want to stay ‘top of mind’ for clients as a realtor, who will effectively refer you to friends and family, effectively growing your real estate client base.

Firstly, what if 1 month after buying my home I got a nice email from my realtor suggesting things I can do each month to keep my home in tip top shape?

Things like:

1. Checking furnace filter and replace if needed

2. Clean kitchen sink disposal (garburator)

3. Clean range hood filters (I know, nobody does this monthly, but imagine how easy it would be if you DID!)

4. Inspect your fire extinguishers (or gentle reminder to get a few!)

To find more ways how you can stay “top of mind” with your clients, check my post on how you can  get your real estate business ahead in a crazy market.

Or, you can go to our main website at www.smallbizdream.com and learn more about our Small Business Sales Blueprint

How An Obscure Restaurant Became A Massively PROFITABLE Downtown Vancouver Sensation

It all started in Vancouver a few years ago. A restaurant owner opened a Japanese-style Korean barbecue franchise from Japan location in Vancouver.

The small business restaurant owner selected the location, a space that was way too big in the eyes of all the restaurant owners and professionals in Vancouver, and a place where time after time, restaurants had failed to succeed in the very same space.

You see, the space was much too big for such an obscure chain restaurant doing food and drinks that “normal” Vancouver people may not be able to relate to. Or so the “experts” said.

The location was bad, impossible to see, and too far back from the road, almost subterranean. Parking all around the area was also v e r y expensive.

You see, it just couldn’t work. Unless the small business owner had some kind of a secret weapon.

You could almost hear the little train saying, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can”.

Now a secret weapon the small business owner surely did have! So secret that they could hide it right in plain sight and have no other restaurant owners copy them.

It was so simple that most restaurant owners would actually argue that is not only unnecessary, but possibly even not to be tolerated by restaurant patrons.

Genius, yes. But … frowned upon? Maybe?

The secret weapon was not really a hard thing to do, but it would take some time, some training, some effort, and a possibly even have a small cost.

You see, it would be hard according to most restaurant owners, as someone would have to be made responsible to do it right. One of your already overworked restaurant staff, who has no time at all when it is busy, may have to add a step to their job.

Of course as a restaurant or small business owner, this is always difficult, as you wouldn’t want to put your staff out with a work task they might not like or feel comfortable with. Or worse yet, pay some money to outsource it. You see it just won’t work, so most restaurants never even bother.

Let’s also not forget the fact that almost nobody in the restaurant industry uses this very simple secret weapon, so it must be a bad idea. You as a entrepreneur, restaurant and small business owner should probably stop reason as the Secret Weapon is something really simple and silly and you likely won’t’ like it or believe it.

So just what is the Secret Weapon?

Sorry, not so fast.

This obscure restaurant, did the hard work of setting up this Secret Weapon for only about the first 3 months of their existence.

Then they reaped the rewards of its awesome power for YEARS to come…

They were busy, well, actually lined up almost constantly for the following two years and even to this day, just by utilizing OVER and OVER this very simple secret weapon they took the time and care to set up.

It likely cost them less than $350 to set up. It likely costs them under $100 a month to maintain.

They have now opened another location in Vancouver, and they implemented the same secret weapon they started building in location 1 for location 2. Now the 2nd location has been packed since opening day.

Ok, enough of the suspense. What is the Secret Weapon this restaurant has so successfully employed?

DATA! Yep, simple data.

Well, I guess it’s not just data, it is data that they collected, and now utilize almost once a week.

So let’s take a look at how they implemented and utilized this secret weapon called “data”.

They collected their data in an old school fashion, and we suggest this is always at least one of your data collection components to all of our clients.

Yes we know there are iPads, and Surfaces, and tablets, and iPhones and Android devices and all this smart technology, but sometimes OLD SCHOOL is better for many of your restaurant guests.

YES you should have a QR code that sits on a tent card on the table and offers people to join your mailing list by filling in a simple survey from their smart phone, and some will. You could also do Coasters! Coasters are just like business cards that can be pondered at the table and even taken home.

YES you should have a very short url to redirect to your same survey/data collection landing page for those who prefer this way.

YES you could suggest they just give their twitter name, name and email address by twitter.

YES you should ask them to follow you on Facebook.


This company didn’t do ANY of those things for the first 3 months.

They simply gave out a small 1/8 of a page mini survey/feedback paper to each person at the table with the bill.

They offered that all who joined the newsletter would be in a monthly draw for a $100 gift certificate.

They started with just a random pen left at the table to fill in this overly photocopied UGLY piece of paper, that wasn’t even cut straight (darn hard to get good help in a restaurant!).

Then they ‘upped their game’ and gave out a golf pencil that was branded with the restaurant name. Customers were even encouraged to take it home if they liked.

Then the magic happened.

They actually did something with the information!

Someone was responsible to actually entered a into a CRM type sales automation system like Small Business Dream

They likely used the simplest one around, or who knows, maybe they simply used Outlook.

All that matters is, they took action. They made it someone’s job to enter this data nightly, or who knows, maybe the paid a subcontractor to do it. And yep, I’m sure many of the surveys had hard to read email addresses, and I’d bet the bounce rate was out of this world. By the third month, I bet ½ or more were duplicates so they were wasting time. But they kept entering.

Right from the first week of collecting this data, they sent out the first email. Showing off specials during certain times of day, or that Monday was all day Happy Hour with $9.99 pitchers of beer at the time, ALL day Monday. Within weeks Mondays were packed and pretty soon, every day was full to capacity.

They didn’t sweat that many of the emails couldn’t be used because they were illegible. They didn’t worry that their survey paper looked awful. They didn’t worry that their staff didn’t feel comfortable handing out the survey. They didn’t worry that their pencils were taken home more often than not. They just continued to TWEAK their secret weapon! They continued to u s e their secret weapon and they continued to be full to capacity, night after night.

They opened another location, rinse and repeat. Imagine if they had an even more robust secret weapon. One that would have taken away some of the cost and time by giving patrons options like mentioned above:

  1. An iPad at the bar or front desk to have people join the mailing list while they waited for a table.
  2. Taking the survey by QR code
  3. Taking the survey by simple URL
  4. Taking the survey by submitting a direct message on Twitter, or a mention on twitter.

They continue to be a booming success, month after month, year after year, while restaurants in better locations, with better themes and menus with better parking, continued to fail. Not one of the failures employed the ‘secret weapon’.

Now the story gets better! This great Korean Barbecue Japanese restaurant went a step further.

They started a loyalty program with an actual member card. Customers got points for eating there, and they could then redeem the points to get $25 OFF their meals once they had enough points.

Again, back in the day, the waiter/waitress had to take your card, disappear into the back, likely login to some system that allowed them to track your purchase, and how many points you had, and notify you manually when you had enough.

They continued to evolve, they continued to add power to their secret weapon.

The loyalty program became connected up to their POS (point of sale terminal). The customer receipt now told you where you were at for your point balance each visit. The customer could email in a picture of their receipt if they forgot their card, and it was someone’s job to match it up and credit the customer. Goodness me, what a terrible thing to make a staff member do when they are so busy!

By now I think you are starting to see that this company had a bigger secret weapon than just their data, they had the determination to make it happen instead of making excuses for why it may be too hard, or that the staff may not like it.

Then they upgraded their secret weapon again!

They invested in a simple mobile app.

This now allowed people to join them for the purpose of getting updates as an app, and of course we all know a mobile app sends out push notifications instantly vs. the email mailing list that can take some time to send once it gets large. This allowed their message to be received in real time, and not end up in a spam folder, or ignored by a millennial who only looks at their email once a week, if that.

Then they upgraded the weapon again. The entire loyalty program was now contained in the mobile application! You could literally redeem your points for something free in front of the waitress and it was brought to you. Now instead of waiting till you had $25 built up, you could redeem for even a $5 item. The patrons responded, and continue to respond, packed full night after night, and even have a very healthy lunch crowd.

With Small Business Dream you can dramatically increase your sales.  Build your sales funnels, email marketing campaigns, automated, and semi-automated social media follow-up campaigns and much more with the most flexible tool on the planet. Sign up today!

How To Increase Sales by 100% With Almost No Effort At All

There once was a little carpet store in Richmond, BC (Canada) that hired a family member, (let’s call him John, name is changed to protect the awesome!) to come in and try to help with the carpet store’s sagging sales.

The carpet store was one of the smallest in a larger carpet store franchise, and things just weren’t going well for it. A much larger sister carpet store in the same franchise kept bringing in the big sales numbers, but his poor little carpet store just kept plodding along with very little sales growth, or improvement in profits.

Now, John joined the carpet store to help out, and he had extensive sales experience. The rumour was that he could sell refrigerators to Eskimos. (Canadian joke eh!)

For months and months John tried and tried, but just couldn’t change the carpet store’s pitiful sales numbers.

He had a friend named Dennis who owned a small business consulting company, that offered to provide John with a “secret weapon” to turn sales growth ON and increase profitability FAST!

During the conversation, Dennis told John that he could save him time in the sales process during his day as well.

Low on belief, but trusting of Dennis, John agreed to learn more. He didn’t tell his family he was doing this, just in case the “secret weapon” didn’t work.

So what was the secret weapon he was offered? Sorry, not so fast! Let me start by telling you about the magic that happened to sales as a result of this “secret weapon”!

The carpet store franchise is quite organized as far as giving recognition for both the stores, and to their salespeople for being outstanding.

John went from nearly a year of obscurity in the carpet store franchise sales rankings, never once making the top of anything, working in a carpet store in the smallest category that also never made it to any of the top performer lists, even against the carpet stores of the same small category, to accomplish some truly amazing things.

John became the top selling sales rep in all the top level carpet stores, and the other salesperson in the carpet store who also secretly used the ‘secret weapon’ became 2nd! This was within 60 days of employing it on the retail floor of their carpet store!

The store became one of the TOP 3 performing carpet stores in the chain! NOT just in their weight group!


What was this secret weapon?

It’s much simpler than you might think.

It comes from thinking outside the box, and doing something that many would say is NOT recommended as a carpet store sales strategy!

The “secret weapon” was Small Business Dream, a mobile and web app. Not just any old mobile or web app, but a mobile app AND a web app. Quite a simple yet comprehensive sales and marketing automation and mobile CRM software suite.

John set about to secretly increase the carpet store’s sales using Small Business Dream. He spent a few days tweaking and playing to establish a good sales method, funnel, flow, and follow up that included comfortably getting carpet store customers to take a short survey and agree to give their email address to get more information and stay in touch with John and the carpet store.

He had configured a number of email auto-responder follow up series to follow up with people interested in particular items like Carpet, or Hardwood Flooring, or Linoleum etc.

A week later, John had about 35 contacts who had gone through his simple survey. He had automated emails based on their chosen flooring interests that were triggered based on what they indicated their interest was in the survey questions.

John did NOT give his mobile phone to the prospect, he filled in the Survey for them to keep it frictionless. When the carpet store was too busy, he had them fill in a small 1/8 size piece of paper asking the same things and collecting their data to enter into the mobile CRM later.

The following week he had made 3 sales he knew he never would have chased or followed up with without the sales automation due to the small order size or feeling the person wasn’t serious about purchasing. (This is a critical error of any salesperson, NEVER prejudge, we ALL know it as sales professionals, but we all still do it!)

More exciting, was that suddenly a lot of communication had opened up by email vs. needing to try to contact each other on the phone. Quick AND efficient.

He started to use Small Business Dream to follow up on in store visits, measures, installations, and the whole 9 yards of the carpet business. Suddenly John was the “Go To” guy in the carpet store for anything, as the carpet store’s paper based systems were so impossible to use, and finding quotes or previous paperwork was close to impossible.

Due to the Small Business Dream mini CRM that John was using, all of that info was at his fingertips, in real time. He even got calls on his days off to answer carpet store questions as only he could get the answer quickly in his mobile app!

His carpet store sales were up year on year and month on month, from the very first month that the app was secretly employed. The carpet store owner couldn’t figure it out.

Fun things started to happen!

A guy walked into the carpet store on John’s day off and says to the other rep on the floor that day…”I don’t remember who I talked to over a month ago when I got a quote for $2900 worth of flooring from your store, but he has followed up with me by email constantly to see where I am at. Please sell me that flooring!!” So cha ching… John on his day off closes a $2900 deal at 9% for an unexpected extra commission of $261 and decides to have steak and lobster for dinner!

As things progressed, John kept talking to Dennis, and Dennis suggested John push the email follow ups further than the few weeks that John had done so far. Dennis suggested a 3 month and a 6 month follow up email to be sent on each category.

John wasn’t sure, and put up some resistance, saying nobody in Carpet or Flooring waits 3 or 6 months to buy, so it’s a waste of time. Dennis suggested to add a few emails which would only take 20 minutes to write and upload, so what did John have to lose?

Dennis also knew that in Vancouver, a building permit could take 4 to 6 months in some cases, so if the renovation that needed the carpet or flooring was delayed due to the permit process, it was logical that a 6 month later follow up could possibly yield results. And guess what?


Within a week of adding the 3 and 6 month automated follow up emails to the series, a customer came into the store asking where the guy that kept emailing him was. John felt like hiding, the guy seemed angry. The other sales rep, not wanting to be mistakenly singled out immediately pointed at John and said, it must have been John!

The guy walked up to John, re-introduced himself, and said he was ready to go, that the permits had finally come in on that $14000 carpet job. Almost ½ of John’s monthly quota for the very slow month that the sale came in! $14,000 x 9% = $1260!

He then also said very clearly that John was not the cheapest carpet store he got a quote from, but he was the only salesperson still following up, and he felt if the service before the sale was so great, the service after must be excellent.

So, John simply took a little time to get prospect and customer data and put it into a mobile CRM, by actually taking the customer’s time to do it right in front of them. Many say you shouldn’t do that.

John’s experience? Customers loved the follow up, they loved that they got emails from John which reminded them of questions they had to ask, and could easily ask vs. having to phone John.

They had a “Truckload Sale” on area carpets, imagine the family’s surprise when by they time they got in, the truck was empty as John had sold every single one by sending out a simple email blast to the 620 or so previous customers, and existing prospects with a time limited sale offer for that truckload of area rugs.

Now John’s carpet store is rabidly awaiting the Small Business Dream add on app called myCarpetStore to allow their customers and prospects to connect directly to them, and receive updates, specials, and follow up directly to their mobile device by push notification in addition to email!


DATA in a usable format, and the creativity on how to use it = Sales and PROFIT GROWTH.

What do you have to lose?

Furniture Stores, Industrial Supply, Electronics stores, Shoe Stores, Hair Salons, Spa’s, Financial Planners, Real Estate agents, and the list goes on and on who could benefit with similar simple strategies and the app called Small Business Dream.

With Small Business Dreams you can dramatically increase your sales.  Build your sales funnels, email marketing campaigns, automated, and semi-automated social media follow-up campaigns and much more with the most flexible tool on the planet. Sign up today!