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What can I be doing to build my new business sales pipeline?

We all know that having a strong sales pipeline is vital to overall growth and success – so what’s the best way to go about doing this? Whether you’re starting out in the sales industry, you’re an experienced professional looking for a fresh new take, or perhaps you’re facing times of uncertainty and ‘closed won’ is proving more difficult than ever to achieve, we hope our tips below will help you and your business achieve consistent sales success.

 Start by planning

Before you start building your sales pipeline, think about who should actually be in it. You want a pipeline of the best prospects for your business. So, who are these ideal prospects, the ones that are likely to be able to afford your services, who will place a good sized order with you and who will become a good ongoing customer?

Here are some questions to help you decide who to include in your “ideal prospect” sales pipeline:

  • Where are they most likely to be located as a business? Are they in Australia or overseas? Are they in the same city, town or state as you are, or are they spread across the country? Are they typically in major cities or in secondary cities or towns, or are they rural?
  • How big are they? Are they SMBs or big corporates? How many staff will they typically have? What is their annual turnover likely to be?
  • What industries are they most likely to come from? For example, are they manufacturers or retailers? Government departments, schools or hospitals?
  • In which department will the likely decision makers sit? Are they in HR or in IT? Are they in Sales or Marketing or are they the CFO/Head of Finance?

Once you have decided these criteria, you can use them as a checklist to make sure that you include only those companies and people who fit your “ideal” prospect profile.

 Embrace LinkedIn

Once you’ve defined your ideal prospect market, you’ll need to decide on the channels you will use to find these prospects as well as a strategy to approach each with. As a starting point, you can buy from a data provider a list that contain only the prospect companies that meet the criteria you’ve defined, some of which may have email addresses, all will have physical addresses and phone numbers.

LinkedIn is also a powerful tool for B2B prospecting so make sure you utilise it to its full potential. We can’t recommend strongly enough how important it is to have your profile up to date, looking sleek and sharp before beginning any sort of prospecting activity. As the saying goes, first impressions count, so it’s vital to get this right as an ambassador for your organisation.

Here are our top 10 tips for using LinkedIn for sales prospecting:

  1. Engage with posts from your network
  2. Follow your target companies and begin to engage with them on their posts
  3. Publish your own posts
  4. Send connection requests with a personalised message (don’t just use a standard template)
  5. Connect to people you’ve met at events and webinars
  6. Upgrade to a Premium account and start sending regular InMails
  7. Reach out to people who are taking on new roles in target companies
  8. Join groups that your buyers are likely to be a part of
  9. Use search filters
  10. Review the ‘people also viewed’ section

Research is a must

Find out more about your prospect (the company and the person) so you can converse and build a relationship rather than going in with a cold sales pitch. Utilise Google and LinkedIn at this point and watch some of their company videos; read any content they have produced, explore their background – previous roles, education, interests etc. Get to know them before you talk to them and then utilise this information to build a rapport with them taking the conversation away from a sales pitch.

Conversation is King

At some point you are going to have to talk with your prospects. If a prospect doesn’t engage with you on LinkedIn, that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in you or what you sell. You may not have reached “cut-through” with them yet so give them a call. Remember that different prospects have different needs, so rather than having one message for everyone you should be able to talk to prospects about a range of different issues that you (your product/service) can help them with. By asking good questions, you identify what their actual needs are and can focus on this as the conversation develops. If you have different audiences, tailor your message to each one. A key thing to remember at the moment is that all businesses have been impacted by COVID-19 (Coronavirus), so people’s needs may be different than usual. This is a unique time for everyone and there may be some different benefits of your products/services that may have greater appeal right now.

Build your own personal brand
As I mentioned earlier, make sure your own LinkedIn is up to date and relevant. Then share relevant content, create your own thought-leading content, shoot some videos. You’re the person in your business that the prospect is going to experience first so have a strong personal brand yourself. With a lot of connections beginning online, being able to let prospects “get to know” you prior to talking to you can help break the ice, will give you more gravitas when you’re talking with them and may even help conversations flow, as you can refer to content which may be helpful to them.

Write good sales emails
Think carefully about subject lines and content, providing the prospect with further information which will help them in the decision making process.  Can you share any content which they may find helpful for example? Keep emails conversational but keep them concise and to-the-point. People get lots of sales requests on LinkedIn and over email, with assumptive closes like “how about a quick call on Thursday or Friday?”. This is just lazy selling, hoping to find some low-hanging fruit. It is up to the sales person to make contact and to do the selling. Asking the prospect to agree to a call when they really don’t know you is the wrong way to sell. It’s far better to let prospects know you’re going to send them something or call them in the next couple of days to introduce yourself. But make sure you do! It’s your reputation you’re building here.

Review your targets
Once you know what your sales revenue target needs to be, work out what is required for you to get there – it’s all about the numbers. Break it down and work backwards.

  • How many sales do you need to make (per quarter, then by month, and by week)
  • With your usual conversion rate, how many leads do you need to speak with to hit your sales targets?
  • How many conversations would you need to have to find one good sales lead?
  • How many people do you need to contact to have one good conversation?
  • From all of this, how many calls do you need to make per week and day?

Now you’ve got a daily target of calls to be made, that will drive you towards hitting your monthly and quarterly sales targets.

 Be consistent

Take action every day (or at least every working day!). Engage with your prospects. Respond to messages. Set appointments. Make new connections. Send InMails. Make a checklist of all the things that you need to do, as well as a No-Fail-Goal for the number of each activity that you must do every day, then make sure you have allocated time slots in your calendar to do them each day.

Stay in touch with prospects and don’t let go

Even if what you’re selling isn’t something that a prospect wishes to pursue at this time, the more consistent you are with your calls and LinkedIn activity, the more likely they are to remember you and keep you and your company in the back of their minds. Outside of your regular professional networking activity, stay in touch with your prospects on a regular basis to maintain your relationship and even earn the potential of becoming a trusted advisor – you never know when they may just need (or know someone who needs) the product or service that you’re selling.

This blog covers some of the techniques that we use for building our clients’ sales pipelines. You can find out more about our services or read our case study examples and if you’d like to have a chat, please get in touch by calling 1300 396 888 or drop us an email to enquiries@fmgroup.com.au.

4 Steps to unlock your hidden market

The Ultimate Guide to B2B Sales Prospecting takes you through the step-by-step process of lead generation and sales prospecting.

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