When you go online and search for solutions to grow your business, you shouldn’t be surprised if you start finding lead generation companies. These types of companies specialize in business growth, and they usually offer a variety of outsourced sales and marketing services that help businesses generate leads. While it’s great to find a solution, you may also find that a ton of terminology that you’re unfamiliar with—qualified lead, sales development representative, ‘build a sales pipeline’, what the heck does all of this mean?!
If lead generation is a new concept for you, there are going to be a lot of terms that you don’t know. Chances are, you’ll see a lot of terminology about “building your sales pipeline,” and you might feel out of the loop for not understanding what it means—but you shouldn’t! If you’ve never worked in sales or managed a sales team before, it’s unlikely that you would know what it means. But we’re here to tell you what a sales pipeline is, and why it’s so important to have.
What Is a Sales Pipeline?
A sales pipeline is a group of prospects built up over time that are qualified and that you would like to do business with. A pipeline is built by achieving top-of-mind awareness in your marketplace. This is done through constant touches to prospects in your pipeline via phone, emails, social media, etc. so that your brand is always in front of them. A predictable sales pipeline is the only way to predict your sales revenue month over month.
Lead generation companies often make claims that they’ll help you build a healthy, sustainable sales pipeline, but why should you care so much? Simple—more leads in your pipeline means more opportunities for closed business and a more predictable stream of revenue. If you can predict your revenue more easily, your organization can set attainable sales goals, hire more employees, and most important of all—you can grow your business.
Why is sales outsourcing the best way to build a sales pipeline?
By outsourcing to a company that provides B2B appointment setting or other lead generation services, you have a better chance of building a solid sales pipeline. Outsourcing is more cost-effective than keeping sales in-house, but this isn’t even the biggest reason to outsource. The main reason for outsourcing sales is to save time and invest in a process.
While having a sales pipeline is the best way to secure more business, no one said it was going to be easy. Building a sales pipeline is an extremely time-consuming process. Not only that, but a lead generation process that is effective is typically complex. If you don’t have the time to build a process or don’t have enough team members to execute that process, you won’t be very successful at building and growing a pipeline.
Ready to start building your very own sales pipeline?
Since we’re talking about how time-consuming and difficult it can be to build a sales pipeline, let’s take a closer look at what that actually looks like. While pipeline management and the process of building a pipeline may look different for each business, there are certain aspects that are important for every business to know.
Here is what you should be concerned about when building a sales pipeline:
Prospecting and Cleansing
You can’t build a pipeline if there are no prospects to fill that pipeline with. This is why prospecting is such an important part of any sales program. A strategic prospecting process is key to success. Don’t just take things day-by-day and look for prospects whenever you have time, form a list of prospects who all fit your ideal customer profile and work from that list. You should have a dedicated team member whose sole job is to prospect.
Once you have a list of prospects who you’d like to do business with, start cleansing that list. Cleansing prospects is when a sales rep cold calls and emails contacts in order to obtain more information or clean up any inaccurate information. During this stage, a sales rep can also ask qualifying questions in order to remove any prospects who do not fit your ideal customer profile.
Communication With Prospects
Building a sales pipeline is all about staying top-of-mind, and you can’t do that if you’re not communicating with prospects in your market. Knowing how you will communicate and how frequently you’ll reach out to a prospect is critical for any sales program. Use a variety of communication types including email, phone calls, and social media to stay in touch with prospects. By using Salesforce Sales Cloud, for example, you can set reminders to follow up with prospects so sales reps never forget to follow up with them.
Lead Nurturing and Qualification
Follow-up is so critical in any sales program, and without it, you really have no chance at building a sustainable sales pipeline. This is why lead nurturing and qualification should be important to you if you’re trying to build a sales pipeline. A lead nurture campaign helps you meet customers where they are at; you can close more deals because you’re consistently following up with prospects until they’re ready to buy. Timing is huge in sales, and if you don’t keep prospects in your pipeline and qualify them along the way, you’re missing out on opportunities for potential business. Continue to nurture until you set an appointment—never give up.
Lead nurturing will help you achieve top-of-mind awareness because it’s all about consistent follow-up. However, the best salespeople take things a step further. Achieving top-of-mind awareness isn’t just about follow-up, but it’s about adding value throughout every stage of the nurture process.
By sending marketing collateral to prospects, for example, you’re providing value beyond what just a simple phone call or plain text email would provide. You’re giving them a professionally designed, well-written asset for them to learn more about your products or services. Prospects will usually keep materials like this handy, helping you stay top-of-mind. For example, let’s say you’re a construction company looking for construction leads and you sent a brochure to a prospect a few months ago. They’re thinking about expanding their company and need construction work for a new building. Your brochure says you specialize in expansions. Who do you think they’ll call, your company or XYZ Construction Company down the street? They’re going to call you, because you went the extra mile and created top-of-mind awareness.
Scheduling Sales Appointments
Last but not least, the entire reason for building a sales pipeline is to schedule more sales appointments and convert more leads into new customers. This should always be your goal once you’ve built a strong pipeline—schedule appointments with as many qualified leads as possible. You should have a process outlined for this. Ask yourself, do you want to have a sales development representative who schedules appointments as well as an executive sales rep who does the sales pitch? Will you host virtual sales pitches or meet with them in-person? Knowing this ahead of time will set you up for future success when trying to hit your sales goals.
Building a sales pipeline is no easy task. It takes time, a process, the very best people, and cutting-edge tools. But once you build a sales pipeline, you’ll be able to predict your revenue more easily and get so many more opportunities. The work is worth the reward.
If building a sales pipeline sounds like something you can’t handle on your own, look to Abstrakt Marketing Group for outsourced solutions. We specialize in B2B appointment setting, and we’ve been helping B2B businesses build sustainable sales pipelines for more than a decade. Are you ready to see how a sales pipeline could change your business for the better? Schedule an appointment with us today to learn more.
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