How to Vet the Right Clients Once Your Sales Pipeline is Built
Prospects, leads, pitching, closing – tracking all of it can be a full-time job. That’s why having a solid sales pipeline management system in place is critical to business success. It gives you a more enhanced, data-driven view of your sales cycle and the areas you need to focus on to drive growth.
The sales pipeline is a powerful sales planning and analysis tool that helps managers and reps visualize the entire sales process, tracking prospects as they progress through different stages in the buyer’s journey.
Sales pipeline stages not only help you visualize key metrics, but also provide you with actionable insights to influence sales behaviors and build strong relationships with prospects. This visual representation allows reps and managers to see clearly how many deals are in play, where they sit at each stage of the deal life cycle, where deals are blocked and why and which sales activities are driving revenue and which don't.
What is a Sales Pipeline?
Let’s start by first clearing up the misconception around sales pipeline vs. sales funnel. Very often, the two are terms are used interchangeably, and while both play an equally important role in your sales process, there is a distinction.
A sales pipeline reflects the stages a consumer goes through to become a customer, a tool for converting leads into sales. The sales funnel represents the number of prospects who make it through those stages. In other words, a funnel measures conversion rates throughout the sales process. A pipeline is a more encompassing overview of the actions taken to convert opportunities to clients, while a funnel looks specifically at the numbers. Knowing the difference can be key to optimizing your sales processes.
A sales pipeline looks at the different stages in the sales process, from gaining the lead to closing the sale. It entails the steps your sales and marketing teams need to take to move a prospect through the pipeline, to convert them and to retain them. By carefully and consistently tracking each step, salespeople can better organize, manage and optimize each stage of the sales process:
– Lead generation
– Qualify leads
– Call or meeting
Sales pipeline management is a critically important process that can drive business results. Analyzing your sales pipeline can help you gain a clearer picture of how long your leads are taking to convert. Scrutinizing your pipeline reports enables you to detect pipeline weaknesses. You can break it down further and determine if these blockages are down to team weaknesses or individual deficiencies. If your sales are stalling, the answers you’re looking for could well be flowing through (or blocked) in your sales pipeline.
How Important is Your Sales Pipeline in Finding The Right Clients?
The first step is to break down the silos and align your sales and marketing teams. After all, marketing’s primary goal is to provide sales with a steady stream of good, quality, qualified leads to keep the sales pipeline flowing.
That said, a “good” lead can mean different things to different people, so it’s important that sales and marketing are on the same page. If there’s no alignment between marketing and sales teams around lead definition and qualification, that's going to create problems.
By clearly defining the criteria you expect a sales-qualified lead (SQL) to have, your sales team only spends time focused on prospects who have specific needs your business can help resolve. This will have a significant impact on every stage of the pipeline, but most dramatically on your lead generation phase.
Consider the following:
- Whom are you trying to sell to?
- Who has been buying?
- What problems do you solve for your customers?
- Why do they buy from you instead of your competitors?
- Where do you reach them (online, TV, radio, etc.)?
The answers to these questions will help you to develop buyer personas. If you have multiple buyer personas, you’ll want to create a unique approach for each of your sales pipelines. To capture an audience, especially on a professional level, you will need a powerful way to draw them in to engage with your brand. And that starts with using the right tools, like Ingage’s dynamic, interactive presentation solution.
The Five Stages of Vetting The Right Clients
Don’t waste valuable time on prospects that will never buy from you. Ditch dead leads and clear your pipeline of unqualified leads. If you don’t do this regularly, you risk undermining the accuracy of your sales analytics, meaning critical aspects—speed of sales, forecasts, which KPIs to focus on—will all be out of whack.
When vetting clients for your sales pipeline, there are five stages of the B2B buyer’s journey to consider.
This is the point where the sales team filter leads and “qualifies” them. Also, referred to as lead qualification, this process discerns prospects that are more likely to convert based on their specific buyer personas.
Lead qualification is a multi-step process that is critical to ensuring your sales and marketing resources are assigned efficiently. The sales and marketing team first collects the necessary information of a prospective client and assesses these details to determine if the client fits the established customer profile for the respective target audience. If the lead fits, they become a prospect. The next step is to make contact.
The First Meeting
The first meeting sets the tone for the client’s entire buying journey. And even though the engagement, ultimately, is about closing the deal, the first sales meeting is not about selling.
While it may sound counterproductive to have a sales meeting without really selling anything, it is often more productive during this crucial first touchpoint, to position yourself as more of a consultative guide, empathetic to the customer’s needs rather than coming across as just another sales rep hungry to close yet another sale.
It’s essential that you listen carefully to the prospective client to determine their goals and needs, so you can offer viable solutions. This way, you begin to lay the foundation of an enduring and meaningful relationship.
This is where the sales pitch comes in. You present everything about your company, the product/service and everything else relevant in between. Here is where you put your best foot forward as you try to convince your prospect as to why they should do business with you.
These days consumers are more informed, more savvy, more demanding. With resources, such as buyer reviews and online access to product information readily at hand, prospects are already knowledgeable about what they need and you don’t have to repeat this. It’s the moment to entice the prospect with those details, those nuggets they are unaware of.
To capture an audience, especially on a professional level, you will need to draw them in with a well-crafted, personalized pitch to get them to engage with your brand. And that starts with deploying the right tools. Check out these real-world client sales pitch examples that demonstrate how companies have been revolutionizing the art of pitching with Ingage.
The frequency and quality of contact you have with your potential clients determine how likely (and how quickly) they are to make a purchase. It is through constant contact that you will stay in mind, which increases the likelihood of closing a deal. A follow-up also gives them the chance to be heard so that they can communicate their needs, giving you the opportunity to fulfill these.
Even if a sale is made, the job is not done. Customer service teams should work to ensure the satisfaction of every customer by being accessible and quickly responding to issues and queries. Marketing teams should continue to offer relevant materials and content that meet customer needs. Nurture existing customers into repeat buyers by making regular contact and offering all-around excellent service.
This is the part where a lead (hopefully) becomes a customer, the “natural end” of every lead that gets qualified from your sales pipeline. The culmination of all that effort.
All the cards are on the table and decisions need to be made. There may be some last-minute clarifications and questions, perhaps a renegotiation of some of the terms. If you played your cards right, you’ll have closed a deal. Great! Now, make the contract signing process seamless. And the best way of doing this? Go digital. Electronic signing is convenient for everyone involved and ensures nothing gets lost.
However, mark a cut-off point and be prepared to walk away. This way, nobody’s time is wasted. All’s not lost though, with a little bit of effort and perseverance, you might still get to seal the deal.
While client acquisition is important, the real revenue driver is customer retention. After closing a deal, focus should now shift on how you can keep your now-converted and much-coveted lead.
You want to make certain the customers you worked so hard to acquire in the first place are happy with your product/service; enough so that they are willing to continue engaging with your brand, getting value from your offerings and perhaps even making recommendations to others. Acquisition creates the foundation, while client retention builds on that customer relationships and maximizes the revenue potential of each and every one.
Maximize Your Leads With The Right Sales Solutions
The global pandemic has made sales twice as challenging for companies. As they transition to virtual selling, sales and marketing teams must now find new and innovative ways to showcase products without losing client interest. Even before the pandemic struck, prospecting has been a challenge for reps.
Pre, during or post-pandemic, this can be difficult to achieve with a traditional product presentation or product catalog. Using the latest in presentation technology is key to creating a dynamic, interactive and engaging product presentation to woo prospects.
Ingage solutions are designed to equip reps and dealers with professional product presentations. With these resources, sales teams are empowered to meet clients at every stage of the sales cycle. A high-quality product presentation also boosts reps' confidence to drives sales and close more deals while establishing trust in your brand.
Schedule a free Ingage demo today and optimize your sales pipeline by leveraging our intuitive sales presentation solutions that simplifies content creation, editing and sharing, while engaging your customers, no matter what your business.