Developing a sales pipeline is a pivotal part of any B2B sales strategy. Essentially, it is an effective way for businesses to visually track their opportunities and sales. Teams can use it to keep on top of opportunities, track progress and make predictions. No matter how big your organization or what you sell, a robust and accurate pipeline and effective sales pipeline management are important. While every pipeline will look slightly different — each will include the key steps each prospect needs to take to convert to a customer. Think of them as going on a journey towards a sale. So, what are the sales pipeline stages you need to know? Let’s explore how to build a sales pipeline in 5 steps.
For a pipeline to exist, a business must first have a number of potential business opportunities. Lead generation is a crucial first step — but how can businesses effectively find prospects that are likely to purchase their product? B2B prospecting is no easy feat, but there are a number of strategies to consider. Start by identifying your audience — who currently buys your product? What does your ideal customer look like? Create a buyer persona and design your marketing and lead generation strategies with these in mind. From bespoke content marketing and digital advertising to social selling and traditional methods like event marketing and print — do everything you can to get in front of the right people. Lead them to your website, optimize conversions, encourage them to inquire and utilize lead generation tools for maximum success.
Now, you have hordes of engaged leads in your pipeline. But, how many of them are going to convert? Unfortunately, not every website visitor, inquiry or engagement will lead to a high-value business opportunity. Lead qualification is the process of ensuring every lead that gets passed onto sales has a genuine interest in or need for your product, and that the prospect can afford it. Implement a lead scoring model — this sees marketers and salespeople gather prospect information based on their engagement with your brand. The higher their engagement, the better their lead score. Introduce BANT — this stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timeframe — and helps your team discover key information about the prospect. And finally, try SPIN — which encourages teams to ask questions about the prospect’s Situation, Problems, Implication and Need. While qualification is key early on, business needs and data can change fast. So, it is a good idea to qualify leads between stages.
You’ve captured your lead and you know enough about them to be certain they have a genuine interest in your product. At this stage, they are considering whether your product is right for them. So, you need to implement a nurturing process, use personalized sales techniques and execute the perfect sales pitch to help them make up their mind. For B2B marketers, this is no easy feat — Ascend2 discovered that almost half of businesses say most of their leads require long-cycle nurturing. Highly-personalized, industry-leading content marketing material is crucial at this point — send timely communications, highlight industry pain points, and stay at the forefront of your prospects’ minds.
Close the sale
Your effective lead nurture process worked, and your prospect is ready to purchase your product. Your sales team should be ready to answer any questions they might have — and ensure nothing stands in the way of conversion. Optimize your website — is making a purchase online easy? Are your pages fast-loading? Does your website look trustworthy? Every seemingly small aspect of your website can play a huge role in whether or not a customer converts. If your product or service requires set-up or additional help, ensure a member of your team is at the end of the phone or just a live message away for optimum customer support.
Keep the customer
It is easy to think that closing a deal is the end. But, in the B2B world, it’s just the beginning. Customer retention is key to business success. According to Destination CRM, recruiting new customers costs five times as much as retaining current customers. And, AnnexCloud found that on average, customers spend 67% more in their third year as a customer of your business than in the first year. Ensure you have appropriate resources in place to manage customer relationships post-sale, ensure your team is maximizing on upselling and cross-selling opportunities and customer experience is at the heart of everything you do.
Designing a sales pipeline for success is crucial — and so is embracing the necessary tools to help you achieve the best results. Lead Forensics is a lead generation software that supports businesses at every stage of the sales pipeline. The technology works by tracking your B2B website visitors and revealing their identity in real-time. Thanks to a global leading database of business IP addresses, Lead Forensics can tell you the exact organization visiting your website — plus, it provides users with detailed user journeys and accurate contact details of key decision-makers. Discover a bounty of new leads directly through your business website, and use prospecting tool Lead Manager to feed high-quality, sales-ready leads through to any CRM. Innovative technology. Seamless integrations. Supercharged results. Book your Lead Forensics demonstration today!