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Keeping Your Sales Pipeline Filled With Prospects
What Is A Sales Pipeline?
Your sales pipeline is a visual representation of each stage of your sales process. A defined and illustrated sales pipeline helps sales teams understand exactly where they are in the sales process for each lead. Clearly defining the stages of the sales pipeline helps your team close more deals over time.
No matter the size of your company, a lead goes through each stage of your sales process as they move down the pipeline:
- The first stage for sales teams is to qualify the lead in order to determine if they are the right fit for your product or service.
- The last stage is, of course, becoming a paying customer.
Defining Your Stages
Each step in the sales process is clearly defined by your organization. These steps are comprised of steps an individual or company needs to take to reach a sales transaction. Since each company is different, your process should reflect your unique business needs, as well as your customer needs to make an informed buying decision.
Fill Your Pipeline With Qualified Leads
For every business, having a sales pipeline filled with prospects is the most ideal situation because having an ineffective sales process is detrimental to your sales pipeline. An ineffective sales process negatively impacts the overall financial health of your business.
If your sales process is poorly defined, one way your business will be affected is by having most of your revenue come from a small percentage of your customers.
To clarify, an example of this would be as follows:
Let’s say you have 100 customers, but only 15 customers are doing most of the buying. Losing a few of those 15 customers can affect your business’ finances. This is why it is essential for a business to have and maintain a sales pipeline filled with qualified prospects and recurring customers. Your prospects and existing customers will protect you from relying on a few customers to meet your monthly sales goals.
A strong sales pipeline is the life force of your business.
A business owner or sales team manager can’t consider short-term growth, let alone long-term growth, if there isn’t a well-defined sales process that feeds leads into your sales pipeline. Those leads keep your business in the game. Closing deals with these leads helps you accomplish short-term/long-term growth goals.
3 Components Of A Strong Sales Pipeline
There are three quintessential things you need to maintain for your business to have a strong sales pipeline.
- First – Always fill up the pipeline with plenty of QUALIFIED prospects and not just random individuals.
- Second – Reroute existing customers back into the sales pipeline by upselling products and services.
- Three – Focus on client retention and satisfaction in order to create brand ambassadors.
If you keep your sales pipeline filled with these 3 components, you are almost guaranteed to grow, both long term and the short term. So how do you get people into your sales pipeline? Well, the following passages contain steps your sales and marketing teams can follow to obtain well-qualified leads into your sales pipeline.
7 Ways To Get Well-Qualified Leads
1. Tend To Prospects Like You Tend To Customers
The mentality you should have is: every prospect is a potential customer. Regardless of whether they buy today, tomorrow, or years later, treating your prospects like customers will help you bring them into your “community”. During the prospecting stage, your lead will gauge your business based on what they believe will be their overall customer experience. Let them see how well you treat paying customers. This type of prolonged positive exposure to your business show them why they should do business with you instead of your competitors.
2. Make Sure You Know Who Your Prospects Are
For a cash-strapped small business, it’s easy to focus on only sales, instead of prospecting. That’s a big no-no. Prospecting, also known as qualifying prospective customers, should not take a back seat to push sales. Not every lead will be right for your business, qualifying leads allows your sales team to focus on investing time in those who are most likely to convert.
To qualify prospective customers, you’ll need to define your ideal customer profile to better understand who your potential customers are now or in the near future.
You are not qualifying customers to simply get through to just any ‘ole body, you are qualifying customers to ensure that the right people get into your sales pipelines. Be sure you have a well-defined prospect qualifying process. Remember, qualifying prospects is not a one-time process, it’s continuous. You should always be qualifying prospective customers if you want to keep your sales pipeline full of those who are most likely to become your customers.
3. No Way Around It. You Must Create Personas
Learn more about who your customers are on an in-depth level. Don’t just sit back and cast a wide net and hope that your attempt to attract your ideal customer will pan out. Be proactive about defining who these individuals are, and how you can better communicate with them so that they become aware of your solutions to their problems. Do market research and create customer personas based on the unique needs of your target audience.
Make sure you create separate profiles for each segment of your audience. This way you can establish a plan for each segment of your target audience. Dividing your target audience up into segments can be helpful when defining and targeting unique needs within your target audience. If you ensure that you are doing all you can to meet each customer’s specific needs, then you will always have steady prospects in your sales pipeline.
4. Focusing On Individual Personas
Dive into the details of any successful business and you will see that they have several different customer profiles for the business. Often times you see this occur because businesses may have solutions with multiple features and add-on benefits that may serve only a sub-segment of the whole segmented audience.
Designing your product and service sales strategy around each of your personas will ensure that each segment of your target audience is served according to their specific needs.
Burying a customer with a ton of emails and offers will not help you fill your sales pipeline. Segmenting your audience to send “personalized” information is a more effective way to nurture this relationship.
5. Cultivating Prospects To Strengthen The Relationship
Cultivating prospects, also known as lead nurturing, is when a business provides prospects and existing customers with information, offers, and resources of value. Customers have their own schedule for buying. They are not going to make a purchase based on the needs of your business. Yet you can improve the likelihood of a prospect choosing your business when they are ready to buy if you are nurturing a relationship with them.
Cultivating customers makes an impression and creates brand awareness so effectively, that they think of you first when they’re ready to buy.
Interact with prospects via email, in-person, social media, and other means to educate customers about your brand. Set up emails periodically to inform them about helpful resources (your blog articles and eBooks) or sales offers that’ll interest them. The key here is to initiate and continue contact with prospects to provide more helpful content than sales offers.
6. Be The Authority On Your Sector
One of the best ways to gain and retain customers is by being known as the business that solves problems. What you sell is a great way to make your customers successful, but what you know can help your customers solve problems without ever spending a dime. Being the authority in your sector means that you have a knowledge base that visitors can utilize to learn something from you.
Businesses around the world, especially small businesses, give free access to valuable information as a way to provide intrinsic value and build authority. What you sell may be important, but what you know is what makes you invaluable to your prospects and customers. So make sure you allow customers to discover what’s helpful from your experience.
7. Let Them Know What You Stand For
Today’s customers are looking for more than just the product or service. In recent years, customers have begun to look at the business as a whole, making a buying decision based on way more factors than just price. Customers today expect more from a business as it relates to giving them what they need and how what a business does affects ecosystems you didn’t realize were connected to your business.
Businesses today should take time to show off all of the good that they do for their communities as it relates to hot button issues. These issues can be related to any socioeconomic or environmental issue customers may deem important. These types of efforts affect your sales pipeline directly and indirectly because they help with publicity and brand awareness.