You started with a great product.
You marketed it confidently, and grabbed some attention. But are those two steps enough to seal the deal?
No matter how great your marketing strategy is or how well your business is doing, unless you’re signing deals with 100% of the people who hear about your product, there’s room for improvement in your sales pipeline.
What Is a Sales Pipeline?
Your sales pipeline is a visual representation of the path your prospects take to become your customers. It comprises the steps that occur between initial awareness of a product and the customer’s decision-making/final purchase and delivery.
Here are some tips to help you manage your sales pipeline in a way that increases your opportunities for success.
Experiment With Chatbots
When customers become aware of their need for a product or service, they often begin researching online. ‘Often’ might actually be an understatement, as more than 80% of customers report doing online research before making a purchase.
Chatbots can be a great way to begin connecting with prospects from the moment they show interest, even if a specific team member is unavailable to connect at that time. Placing a free chatbot on your customer-facing website will allow your company to start AI-driven conversations and scope out a prospect’s level of interest.
Asking specific and detailed questions via chatbot can inform your team’s efforts so they make a better first warm call/touchpoint. It can also encourage the prospect to move themselves forward in the funnel while their interest is high.
Leverage Every Potential Connection Point
If a chatbot isn’t an immediate option for your company, you can also scout out curious potential customers in more manual ways, including connecting via other online channels.
Opportunities to find and connect with interested prospects include social media connections/page likes, referrals from friends or colleagues, and event-based marketing. You’ll need to be prepared to spend a little more time finding new prospects this way. Of course, hiring a Virtual Assistant to take care of this could also be a good answer here.
Search Online to Find Decision-Makers
If you’ve scouted out a worthy potential prospect but are having trouble generating a connection with their company and moving to the next phase of your pipeline, you’re not alone.
Corporate decision-making has become increasingly complex, as technological systems touch multiple areas of an organization. In a given medium-sized company, for example, an average of seven people are involved in the decision-making process.
The issue of nonresponsiveness, in this case, may not be your product’s fit, but rather the person you’re reaching out to.
Using an email verification tool can help you find the right contacts in a company, so you can pitch your product to the right audience. Instead of relying on lists that may be out of date, you can verify addresses currently in your database, as well as search for addresses of specific company leaders and executives. For more information on business leaders and decision makers, check out The CEO Magazine.
The more information you can gather – using email list enrichment services to provide additional details like job titles and social profiles – the better, so you can compare your prospecting list against your buyer personas and ensure an optimal fit.
Apply Automation to Your Processes
Building out automation processes means that you’re keeping in touch with the prospects you’ve gathered, not allowing their fervor for and interest in a new product to go cold.
During the consideration stage, add an automated touchpoint or two to handle common fears or to encourage ongoing connections. Automation doesn’t have to feel robotic or forced; it can be a nudge or an invitation to reconnect, which then leads to a conversation that includes a human connection with your team.
Say Thank You – and Say It Frequently
As you move along in the sales process, make sure you’re expressing your thanks for the client’s time and trust. Showing appreciation never goes out of style; 77% of customers say they enjoy hearing these types of affirmations.
Gratitude, when it’s genuine, can help you manage your sales pipeline by keeping some of those leads warm that might otherwise go cold. Prospects who have an exceptional experience with you throughout the sales pipeline will feel less friction and be more likely to seal the deal.
Even if they’re not able to move forward with your product/service immediately, an attitude of courtesy and human connection will help you build a positive image of your brand.
They’ll be more likely to consider working with you in the future if they’re able, or to give you a positive referral to other potential customers. Referrals are invaluable, one of the most effective means of keeping your sales pipeline full, and not nearly enough people ask for them.
Keep Your Eye on Your Results
You can never check on your results too often. A watched pot never boils, as the saying goes, but watching and measuring your results with great care can help you improve your sales pipeline.
Determine which metrics you want to track in addition to final sales. One of the most important analyses you can perform is determining where you’re seeing fallout in your pipeline.
If you’re losing a lot of customers after your pitch, there must be room for improvement in the way you’re selling. If there’s a drop-off when you near final negotiations, you may want to take a closer look at your pricing strategy.
One of the best ways to move a prospect through your sales pipeline is to focus on value throughout your exchanges. Learn about what they want/need, then emphasize how your product/service fits the bill.
When you focus on providing benefits, instead of pushing features, you’ll likely see an uplift in your success on both the acquisition and retention sides.
Do you diligently manage your sales pipeline? In which areas would you most like to see improvement? Feel free to share in the comments below: