Building a healthy sales pipeline is crucial to engage in successful sales. Having a well-built pipeline implies that the company is likely to complete its sales targets. However, every company face challenges while they are building their own pipeline. These challenges can vary from company to company but there are 2 important challenges that most of the firms face. Here are some ideas on how sales teams can break down these obstacles and build a strong sales pipeline.
1. Establishing and maintaining trust
In the age of Internet, when potential consumers find all the necessary information within a few minutes, it is effortful and time-consuming to establish trust while it’s easy to lose it again in short time. However, it is worth to sacrifice time and energy to gain consumers’ confidence as the lack of trust is identified as one of the most important obstacles to complete sales.
Why is trust important?
- Building trust is an essential part of establishing long-term relationships with your prospects.
- 90% of firms stated that they only buy products and services from companies that they trust.
- Without establishing trust 90% of lead generation efforts may be wasted.
- Once you were able to develop trust with your customers, it is more likely that they will recommend you to other companies.
How can you establish trust?
Use social media
Using social media can be an effective way to build trust as, based on the report of Emarketer, 82% of buyers trust companies more that use social media to communicate with them. However, it is not enough to use social media. You also have to know how to use it to build trust. The following three tips can help you to establish trust easily through your social network.
- Constant communication: Encourage your potential consumers to contact you via social media by participating in discussions. Give answer to their questions as soon as possible and do not be afraid to comment to their complaints. In this way you can show to your prospects that you stand behind your product and service and help them if any problem emerges.
- Education: Dig deep into forums and blogs to find out what your prospected are interested in. After understanding your consumers’ pressure points create and share content or initiate discussions related to them.
- Social responsibility: Use social media to let your prospects know that you are not only interested in the profit of the company but also care about social and/or environmental issues of the community around you.
Develop good reputation as an industry expert
Share articles and blogposts that proves the expertise of your company. Creating content on your website that meet a professional tone not just reinforces your competence but also your credibility by establishing good reputation as an expert. The best ways to create content that positively influences your perceived credibility is to share interviews made with thought leaders, informational videos and published articles authored by leaders of the company.
Build upon the prestige of the most influential clients of your company
Let your prospects know which companies are your most influential clients. Communicating that a well-known company, withg a good reputation, is your customer can help to improve your credibility. There are two frequently used ways to communicate which companies are your most important clients: include the customers’ logo in the homepage or create a separate page solely dedicated to present your influential clients.
Share awards and press mentions
First time consumers may have less information about your company or the industry in which your company runs. As a result companies have to find other ways to enhance first time consumers’ trust compared to the strategies that they use to increase their credibility in case of experienced users. There are two widely used ways to increase first time users’ trust: sharing awards and press mentions. These two trust enhancing strategies can be effective as press mentions and awards imply expertise and good reputation of the company without providing further information.
Maintaining trust is crucial as restoring consumers’ trust is much more effortful than building trust. There is one important receipt which helps you to maintain customer’s trust: keep your promises. This may seem simple at first sight but can become troublesome at the moment when you actually have to do what you promised to your consumer. Therefore, keep in mind: before making a promise think through whether you can keep it!
2. Do not waste time on unlikely leads
Nowadays there are so many places to find leads that it has become a challenge to avoid spending time and money on prospects that are unlikely to buy your products or services. It is hard to determine whether your efforts will pay off but lead scoring can help you to anticipate the behaviour of your prospects. Lead scoring is a process which helps to identify sales ready leads and those leads which require further marketing activities by assigning points to leads that determine the leads’ interest and their location in your sales process.
Rule based lead scoring
The essence of rule based lead scoring is to identify those criteria that determine lead quality and score every lead based on that criteria. To evaluate the quality of a lead (sales ready, require more effort, unlikely to buy) you give a score usually on a scale of 0-5 or 0-10. If the total score of the lead reaches a certain threshold you can assume that your lead is ready to buy your products or services,
Keep in mind four tips to create an effective lead scoring process:
- Do not overcomplicate it: collect the data that you really need for you lead scoring process. There are four type of data that can be useful: budget, authority, need and timing. Based on these data, if you have two prospects whose need and time data are the same, that prospect should get higher score which has higher budget and bigger authority (e.g. director of a company) compared to the another prospect who has lower budget and smaller authority (e.g. IT manager).
- Use explicit and implicit data as well and evaluate them together. Explicit data is any information that you can gain from websites, in events and during personal interactions with your clients. Implicit data include the digital behaviour of your prospects: opened emails, submissions, downloads of marketing collaterals. All of these data can help you to make your lead scoring more precise and reliable.
- Understand the prospects’ profile: try to find ideal profiles depending on the industry in which you work. For example, in a situation when you want to sell laptops to a company, the lead score of an IT director should be higher than that of IT manager.
- Automatate your lead scoring process. After identifying sales ready leads, using lead scoring, automate the process by creating workflows and adding alerts. For example, if a lead reaches a threshold score, an alert (e.g. email alert) should notify the sales rep to take action as soon as possible.
Predictive lead scoring
Predictive lead scoring is a scientific method that helps sales teams to estimate the probability that a certain lead will become a customer. This method uses a lot of data coming from different sources: data from your own CRM system, behavioral data from Marketing Automation Systems and “big data” gained from multiple sources. That data help you to determine the attributes of a quality lead in your own company considering the industry in which your company runs. After determining the profile of a sales ready lead you are ready to score each of your leads against it and determine what the probability of closing your leads successfully is.
Predictive lead scoring can make the dreams of sales teams come true by determining on which leads they should concentrate. However the use of this method requires a huge amount of data and more financial resources than that of traditional lead scoring. Consequently companies have to think through whether it is worth to them to invest in building their own predictive lead scoring process. Examining 5 conditions can help to cure this dilemma:
- Having enough leads
- Having enough historical and behavioural data
- Traditional lead scoring process performs well
- Being able to implement the result in sales strategy
- Having no cheaper or simpler solution to increase sales efficiency.
Is facing these challenges enough to create a healthy sales pipeline?
Establishing trust and focusing on the right leads are not enough to create a healthy sales pipeline but can considerably help you to get closer to your goal. Lead scoring methods help to concentrate on those leads that will potentially convert whereas trust enhancing strategies help not to lose them during the sales process. The ability to find the sales ready leads and keep them make your sales pipeline stronger by increasing the number of deals that you drive through your pipeline, the percentage of deals you can close and by decreasing the amount of time you spend on getting a customer. If you would like to benefit from these advantages of having a healthier sales pipeline, use our advise to build it!