Well designed pipeline is something every business needs to have, especially if you’re working in B2B sales. Without an effective pipeline, you’ll just bumble around hoping you fall into a sale, with no real order or structure. On the other hand, an effective sales pipeline makes it easy for your sales team to constantly find new leads and turn those leads into sales. If you want to start your 2019 off right, here is what you need for an effective B2B sales pipeline.
Picking Your Leads
The first step towards building an effective sales pipeline in 2019 is picking out your lead. This is the base of your pipeline, it’s the foundation on which the rest of the pipeline is built. You need to have a solid group of leads that you can go after, otherwise, you’re just wasting your time pitching to people who have no interest in your product.
To start finding your targets, you need to first think about your ideal customer. Create a sketch of who your product is perfect for:
- Who is this person?
- Is it the head of a marketing department?
- A CEO?
- A local business owner?
By creating a sketch of the type of person you want to target, you’ll have an easier time once you start prospecting.
After you have this sketch, it’s time to start finding companies you want to reach out to. There are several ways you can go about this. For starters, setting up an inbound marketing strategy can bring leads to your website. You can do this by producing high-quality content and sharing it across the Internet.
You’ll also want to focus on using social media. Social media is a great place to find target companies and establish a connection with them. Start by finding the social media accounts for the prominent businesses within your niche, then expand to their followers/connections. If you come across a company that might be interested in your product, add them to your list. There are plenty of social media tools that can help you to find potential customers if you need some help.
The last way you can find targets is through local business directories. If you’re a local business, you probably want to target other businesses in your area. Online directories are a great place to start your search, or your town may even send out its own Yellow Pages.
It takes time to come up with an ideal customer and then search for customers who fit that profile within your niche. But this list will pay off down the road, so it’s important that you put the effort in now.
Reaching Out to Internal Contacts
Now that you have a list of leads, it’s time to start reaching out to them. To do this, you need to find someone within the company that you can talk to. You don’t want to make your pitch to an intern running the company’s Twitter account – you want to talk to the head of the sales department.
The next step of your sales pipeline is to find contacts within the target, then reach out to them. There are a few ways you can find these contacts. To start, if you know someone within the company, you can ask for them to put you in touch with the right department head. Referrals are a great way to make the right connections and make it easier to get beyond the gatekeeper.
If you don’t know someone within the company already, that’s okay. Instead, you’ll want to do some research on the company and try to find the right person to talk to. For instance, you could scan their website and see if contact information is listed. If they only list a person’s name, head on over to a site like LinkedIn and see if you can find their contact information there. The LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a great tool for finding internal connects quickly and easily.
With a little effort, you should be able to find the contact information for whomever you need. Once you have it, it’s just a matter of reaching out them. Use one of the marketing automation software available and reach out to them explaining who you are and what you’re offering. Ask to set up a time where you can chat more in-depth about your product or service. Before you send out the email, have a few other people read the email copy and see if there’s anything you should change. You only get one shot at a first impression, so make sure your initial email or cold call is a good one.
Track Your Progress
Up next, you need to track your progress as you go along. Keep track of all your targets, the contact information you’ve gathered, who you’ve talked to already, and how far along you’ve gotten with them. If you’re lucky, you’re going to have a lot of people you’re reaching out to, and if you don’t track what you’re doing, you’ll quickly become overwhelmed. Then, before you know it, you’re forgetting to contact people or reaching out to them twice.
A great tool for this is PipeDrive. With it, you can track all of your customer contacts and store information about your interactions with them. This makes it easy to see who you still need to call, who you need to close the deal with, what deals you won and which ones you lost.
Closing the Sale
Finally, it’s time to close the sale. Everything you’ve done up until this point – from finding targets, to reaching out to them, to establishing a connection – is all about making the sale. Here are a few tips you can use to close the sale, no matter what you’re selling:
- Focus on the customer, not the product. Find out what their needs are, then try to meet them. Make customer satisfaction your priority, not your numbers.
- Provide real-world examples of how your product or service can help, rather than focusing on the specifics of the product. Potential customers often don’t care about the technical jargon, they just want to know how you can specifically help them.
- Get the customer to make a series of small decisions. It’s often hard to get someone to commit to buying right away, you need to gradually meet them there. So for example, first get them to meet with you. Then, get them to try out the product for a month. Then set up another meeting to discuss going forward. By the time this last meeting comes around, you should have an easier time closing the deal, since the customer has already gone down a significant portion of the sales funnel.
Always Look to Improve Your Sales Pipeline
Even if you follow all of the advice above, it’s still likely that there are ways you can improve your sales pipeline. The key is always looking for ways you can do better, and never settling for “good enough”. The above tips are a great place to start, but you need to try new things and explore your options to see what works best for your particular business.