The B2B sales pipeline is a delicate thing. It’s the process that allows business leads to move through the buyer journey, from interest to sale. A salesperson needs to devote their time to advancing leads through this pipeline, bringing as many out the other end as possible (meaning of course- closing sales!). But it’s all a balancing act- a pipeline needs to be maintained, worked in a way that constantly produces results. How is this done? Simple- here are some top tips…
1) Evaluate and streamline your current processes
It’s all very well to say “let’s improve our B2B sales process!”, but what specifically needs improving? You can’t just apply a blanket statement and change everything- some parts may be working fine! It’s not about just improving your pipeline, it’s about streamlining it. The longer your process, the easier it is for your leads to get lost or distracted along the way. Delve into every aspect of your sales pipeline, and how you move business leads through it. Pull out areas to keep, areas to improve/change and things you can scrap completely. Whilst doing this- keep your buyer persona at the forefront of your mind. How would your ideal buyer like to be sold to- do they definitely need to see that demonstration before anything else? Do they want to receive the proposal before knowing the pricing? Streamline your process so it’s 100% suited to the ideal buyer, and you’re on the right track!
2) Maintain high-quality data
This is a pitfall for many sales teams, but it’s rarely addressed! If you’re trying to move business leads through a pipeline at a certain speed, but you’re lacking information, then you’ll be hindered. This isn’t necessarily just data in the form of contact details, it refers also to qualifying information- budget, time-frame, decision makers, buyer needs- you name it!
Look at your qualifying process and ensure you’re getting all the information you might need later in the pipeline. Don’t allow your sales team to settle for “Ben”- what’s his last name and job title? Don’t settle for “is looking for X solution”- know WHY that solution is needed right now! And once you’ve gathered it all- make sure detail is entered and stored at the same high standard. If it’s all scribbled down in a notepad, that’s not good enough. Regulate the storing of this information, through a qualifying document or similar, so you can keep the detail accurately. In the end, it may be what closes that deal!
3) Do your homework before every call
It doesn’t matter if it’s the first call or the twentieth- if you don’t prepare properly for every call you make, leads will crawl down that sales pipeline, if they move at all! You’ll be constantly going in circles and getting nowhere. Never get complacent and think your amazing sales charm will win you deals- it simply won’t put bread on the table anymore.
Before the first call- do your research. Know the prospect’s industry, and what’s effecting them- find out everything you can. During the call- listen and take notes, then consult these notes and hit the books again. Add the prospect on LinkedIn and look through their profile, read content they’ve interacted with, research the problems and needs they mentioned and branch out to your own customer base, finding examples of where those problems have been solved. When the next call comes around, you’ll impress them with your knowledge and focus on their personal business goals, and you’ll see them rocket down your sales pipeline.
4) Nurture with content
This may sound more like marketing than sales, but it’s absolutely crucial to securing those big wins and getting larger prospects through that pipeline. 95% of B2B buyers chose to purchase from organizations who fed them relevant content throughout the buyer journey, and never forget, business leads that have been nurtured with content spend an average of 47% more at the end of the sales process! So the numbers all add up- get going with content.
Whether its whitepapers, downloadable assets, blogs or customer success stories, build up a bank of content that can match different buyers, based on industry or business needs. This allows you to follow-up every call with a little content boost, offering something of value and leading prospects further down that pipeline.
For this to be a true success, team your marketing up with sales so assets can flow freely between departments. B2B organizations already doing this are 67% better at closing deals- which is no surprise when you see what impact content nurturing can have on the sales process!
5) Get the proposal right
Many B2B sales are made or lost in the proposal. It’s a shame to have brought a lead so far through the pipeline to lose them near the final hurdle! Getting the sales proposal right is crucial to ensuring qualified leads become customers, as often as possible. Whether you send your proposal in the post, vie email or you meet in person, make sure it adheres to the following-
- It’s personalized– we don’t just mean it has their name and business logo on. Personalized means it directly links to the discussions you’ve had and matches the recipient and their requirements. If you know it’s going to be passed on to several other decision makers, make sure it contains the detail they need, or if you’ve already been talking directly to the chief decision maker – it’s concise and just covers the essentials. If they’ve asked about integrations with a specific software or other solution- ensure that’s mentioned in the proposal too. Don’t just give them everything you’ve got; they won’t read it all and you’ll instantly loose the credibility you’ve worked so hard to gain.
- It looks good– This sounds obvious, but surprisingly, many business proposals contain dynamic copy but their presentation doesn’t relate to the business at all. Brand your proposals like you would brand your email signature; make everything consistent so you come across as a sophisticated organization, with a professional solution and a trustworthy outlook.
- They know what to do next– Like any good follow up email, a business proposal also needs to contain that call to action! Unless you specifically ask your qualified lead to take definitive action after reading your proposal, it won’t happen. They’ll just wait around until you call, so get your CTAs in place.
- You’re a person– business language is important, but you still need to appear human. A proposal needs to be something you’ve written for them. Use the word “I” and describe conversations you’ve had previously- it all helps towards being a more than a salesperson, and becoming a friendly face offering to help solve a problem.
6) Negotiate with strength
Losing a prospect after the business proposal isn’t great, but losing them during negotiation- that’s the worst. Negotiations are tricky- you want to close the sale, but you also need to generate revenue- how do you find the balance? Negotiations fall through because of two key reasons- the lead doesn’t see the value in your product now they’re judging it in monital terms, or credibility for the sales person is lost, and the prospect no longer wants to work with them or the organization.
So let’s tackle them! If the buyer can’t see the value in your product, then you’ve tripped up somewhere down the pipeline. Whether it was in the qualifying or nurture, there’s been a miscommunication about the needs of the client and how they are solved by your solution. Remember- it’s your job to explain true value of your product! It’s worth the money you ask for.
This leads nicely into credibility- one sure-fire way to lose a prospect at the end is by low-balling your business offering. If you offer them a price, then turn back on it straight away, saying you’ll take it down- then you’re basically saying “it’s too much to pay, it’s not that great”. Stand by your prices during negotiation.
A successful strategy to combat these factors has been to quote three options, each with different prices, and different benefits. This allows open discussion, and instead of under-selling product- you can drop to the lower offer where less money is involved, but the service is lessened too. This gives you the negotiation power, and also forces the prospect to make a decision between money and product value. You’ll be surprised how many go for the more expensive offers!
When your B2B sales pipeline is fully optimized, the performance can be outstanding; and when you’re able to maintain those performing processes, you’ll be amazed at the results. Action these top tips, to achieve a world class sales pipeline, closing better deals and generating more revenue than ever before! You have the power to revolutionize your B2B sales strategy, let Lead Forensics kick-start your success by identifying your anonymous website traffic.Our market-leading software is helping over 50,000 B2B sales and marketing experts revolutionize their search for new business opportunities, discover how you can do the same- book your free demo here!
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