For the past two months, I have been testing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software for clients in the hospitality industry. After reviewing 150 pipeline models, one thing became crystal clear.

The Problem. Your pipeline is missing the most important stage.

After spending time, energy and money moving your target market to the new customer stage, ninety-five percent of pipelines end there and start prospecting for more new customers.

The probability of selling to a new customer is 5-20%.

The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%.

The Solution. Take a look at how your sales pipeline ends and add at least 3 stages – after “new customer”.

Follow-up. Engage the customer for 21-45* days immediately following their purchase. While your main focus is always to deliver an amazing customer experience, this pipeline stage has an added benefit. Here is when your customer is most likely to buy from you again, with very little effort on your part. McDonald’s made this famous with their upsell model “Would you like fries or an apple pie to go with that?”

Nurture. From Day 30-60*, focus on deepening the relationship with your customer and remaining top of mind. The secret to this stage is to follow a mixed media engagement system supported by high-touch automation.

New Sale. Every time you solve a problem – you create a new problem. Use your sales data to identify what customers who purchased X are likely to buy next . . . and offer it to them within 60* days after their initial purchase.

*the length of time for each stage varies by market and customer life-cycle.

Your profitability pipeline is just beginning when the customer gives you money. #ThatMakesProfitableSense

Originally published by Linette Montae on LinkedIn September 9, 2015