Your pipeline is your path to B2B sales success. Start your pipeline as you mean to go on with our useful tips.
Your B2B pipeline is the key to creating a consistent and scalable sales process. As your business grows and new people join your sales team, they can easily click into the process. A pipeline doesn’t just help you close deals, it helps you convey information to your customers.
When you are starting your B2B pipeline, thorough preparation sets you up for success.
What is a pipeline?
Before we start, let’s briefly explain what a pipeline is and what it means for your business.
Your pipeline is the journey that a B2B prospect takes as they become a customer. It will consist of a number of stages. Each stage represents a different step on the journey. Different organisations set out their pipelines in different ways, but examples of the stages could include:
Here are 5 tips on how to build a pipeline that flows smoothly.
1 – Define your goals
Before you begin building your pipeline, you need to work out what you want to achieve from it. ‘Sales’ is not a goal by itself, you must put more meat on the bones.
What do you want your sales process to look like? Do you want to focus on a quick sale, or build a longer-lasting relationship with your customer? Are you focusing on price or other benefits? When you know the purpose of your pipeline, it becomes easier to design.
Eventually, you will need to get deeper into the numbers. How much revenue do you want to bring in? How many salespeople will you need? How many leads will you need every month at a specific average win rate?
2 – Understand your ideal customer persona
Before you start your pipeline, you also need to consider who you want to be in it. Who is going to buy your product? Once you know this, you can figure out their problems and address them in a way that shows how you solve them.
Construct an ideal buyer persona, with a name, job title, location and more. Work out how they like to communicate. Figure out what drives them to make purchases. What are their emotional triggers?
Once you have constructed your ideal buyer persona, Cognism Prospector helps you find them. You can segment our database of over 400 million profiles by just about any criteria you can think of. When you have a list of your ideal customers in front of you, selling to them suddenly becomes a lot easier.
3 – Clearly-defined stages
Getting your pipeline’s infrastructure right is essential for it to run smoothly. Decide how many stages you want in your pipeline, and what you want them to be. Next, define precisely what needs to happen for a prospect to move on to the next stage. Some stages are easy to define. For example, it’s easy to know if you have given a prospect a demo or not. However, some are harder to classify. Deciding when a lead turns from an MQL into an SQL is always contentious.
The most effective way to evaluate leads is through lead scoring. This is when you assign points to a lead based on the number and level of their interactions with your company. For example, if a prospect calls your sales team, that could be a point. Asking for a product demo could be 5 points.
As prospects move to different stages of your pipeline, you will be treating them differently, so it’s essential that they are classified correctly. Be strict on your lead scoring and your qualification criteria.
4 – A plan to keep your pipeline flowing
As well as working out how many leads you need coming into your pipeline every month, you need a plan for what to do with them once they’re there.
How are you going to turn a lead on a screen into a customer that loves your product? Options could include:
You will probably want to use combinations of these and more to move your prospect through your pipeline. However, a robust plan is essential.
5 – High-quality leads
If you have poor-quality leads at the start of your pipeline, it’s unlikely they will ever reach the end of it. On the other hand, high quality leads matching your ideal buyer persona will flow through smoothly. Leads are the fuel for your pipeline, so make sure you’re generating the best B2B leads you can.
Cognism Prospector continually matches its 400 million profiles against more than 5.6 billion data points, to ensure your leads are as accurate as it could possibly be.
You can use Cognism to generate leads that match your ideal buyer persona, then use our email automation to reach them at a time they’re ready to buy.