The pipeline worked out well, we’ve been busy busy busy, we just have to keep making time to feed it (another thing you have to do to a pipeline). It’s funny how this was second nature to me in radio, but I had to learn it again for PWD. Although the approach has needed to be different. Apart from the regular feeding, the next problem was how to represent the pipeline in a meaningful way that allowed us to see what was happening quickly and would motivate us to keep on at the feeding and pushing things along.
We tried various CRM systems, in particular ZOHO but that proved so over featured and complex it became a barrier. We looked at Highrise, which didn’t seem to fit well back then, and several others. Then @mattweston showed us a lightweight paper based system that we loved. It involved a sheet of wallpaper and a bunch of post its. We stuck the long sheet on the wall and separated it into sections along the short axis. we labelled the sections as followed:
New Leads – ideas for people we could approach
0% – people we had requested a meeting or call with
25% – people we had met with and who expressed interest or offered to help
50% – people who actually agreed to look at a proposal, or asked us to help
75% – people who had received a proposal from us
100 – people who had said yes
In delivery – for our live clients
Each lead would be assigned a post it note and the note would be physically placed at the various stages along the wallpaper as the conversation progressed. More detail got added, proposal value etc, as you went along. At the end we stacked up all the completed jobs as a glory thing. If we got a no the note went in the bin. If things weren’t progressing they went in the bin. At a glance you could see how you were doing. So long as we had a lot of notes in the 0 – 25% range, some in the middle and a few in the 75% + range we were doing ok.
It was really good for quite a while, it felt great to see the notes progressing along the pipe. However it was not very portable it took up a huge area of wall so we’d take photo’s to refer to when we meeting away from the wall. I later compressed it and put in the side of my filing cabinet by my desk, which was neater. Later still I stuck it all in a manila file, and in one fell swoop I had made it portable. Neat.
I really enjoyed the low tech, physical nature of this system. It was pleasing to rearrange the notes at the end of the day, add figures when ideas were pitched and to see them stack up as the work was done. But we outgrew it. The others wanted to who I was speaking to so they could steer clear.
For a while I used Datum.com to track my key stats. We were tracking an agreed set of mnimum standards in particular meetings held, value pitched and value closed. I liked that too, it would show a rolling 30 days of activity so if the numbers started to drop I would feel a real urgency to get some proposal out and get sign off just to keep the numbers up. It was really effective at keeping me motivated.
In the end though that went by the wayside too. It was cloud based and had an iphone ap, but the ap was appalling: you couldn’t get any clarity from it. Plus the free version was public, so we could see each others activity but so could anyone else. Going private was more secure but then we couldn’t see each others activity either…
Since then I have seen a lovely tool called Kanban.com which is basically postit notes on a screen, you can setup sections and move the notes, plus you can share projects or sales activity, assign tasks etc, proper project management and pretty too. I am not currently using it, found it too late.
Instead we’ve settled back on 37 Signals’ Highrise. It’s much better now: simple, sharable, you can email it stuff, really quite good.
Not the same as a piece of paper though.