Building high quality pipeline is a major challenge for sales leaders in all industries. According to a recent XANT poll of 564 sales executives, over half of sales leaders (63%) believe that building high quality sales pipeline is much more of a challenge than closing pipeline. Typically, building pipeline and lead generation are an attribute of the marketing department. This is why sales leaders are concerned about this indicator — they rarely have full control over it.
But experienced salespeople have their own ways of generating sales pipeline without needing a marketer’s help.
We asked sales leaders about strategies for building pipeline without marketing, and here’s what we got.
Rely On Your Current Customer Base
Your current customer base is usually low-hanging fruit when it comes to building pipeline, told us Mike Schultz, president of RAIN Group sales training. When it comes to building the pipeline, 51 percent of sellers revealed that making phone calls to existing customers/accounts was highly effective, said Mike Schultz, quoting the Top Performance in Sales Prospecting research.
“Reaching out to your current clients works well because you’ve already developed a relationship and established trust with them. Thirty-seven percent of sales reps shared that making phone calls to prior customers/accounts was also very/extremely effective,” added Mike.
Make Sure Your Data is Clean
Good leads come from good data, as both sales reps and marketers know. Make sure your database is accurate and information is up-to-date. This gives sales development reps a higher chance of contacting and qualifying leads. At Jellyvision, the employee communication platform, they aim for having 70 percent of lead gen needs covered by the sales development team.
“In terms of successful BDR and AE lead and sales meeting generation, nothing is more important than accurate data and a deep consideration for AE:BDR alignment as it points back to your overarching strategy. We also deeply subscribe to the cadence approach and harness sales automation to maximize BDR/AE efficiency,” said Jessica Hay, VP of Sales at Jellyvision.
Speaking at Events and Tradeshows
Events are a boon for salespeople, because they can share their knowledge in the industry to a new audience (making new connections), or simply speak to their current target audience. This, of course, provided you have the list of event attendees and it’s the right type of customer.
“Thirty-two percent of sellers claim that an effective tactic is ‘presenting/speaking at conferences, seminars, or trade shows.’ If you’re planning to speak at an upcoming event, get a head start and reach out to the event organizers to obtain attendee lists so you can begin doing your research and determine who you want to connect with at the event,” said Mike Schultz.
Networking to Find New Clients
Networking is the age-old advice for anyone looking for a new professional role. But it can work just as well for salespeople. Keep making new contacts, and being friendly to everyone you meet– you never know who your next customer will be.
“You can network via social media or during business functions. Talk to other people, not just about how they can help you, but also about how you can help them – that is the best way to attract customers,” said Nate Masterson, marketing manager for Maple Holistics.
Aside from networking, Nate advises salespeople to not shy away from using tools that are traditionally in a marketer’s arsenal: creating content that will interest your target audience is a top tactic.
Old Leads Are The New Black
Old leads are just that– old leads, right? Not quite. Prospects will say they don’t have enough budget, or they work with a competitor, or give you some other reason they are not ready to buy. But that may change in three or six months. So make sure to keep notes on your conversations and revisit all of your leads after some time, to see if anything has changed.
“You likely have years of information on individuals who ran into budget issues, delayed decisions, or even hired a competitor. Now, months or even years later, departments may have allocated bigger budgets, industry dynamics may have changed, and competitors may not have lived up to expectations. This is a great time to reconnect and reengage with them,” said Mike Schultz.
Get Customer Referrals
Customer referrals are a great way to show your product or service works. This is why you should permanently be collecting them like your most precious trophies. A customer referral always works better than tooting your own horn. It comes from someone who has actually tried the goods.
“When you are looking for a new service or product, what is the first thing you do today? Read reviews, or ask friends for referrals. Customer referrals are by far the most powerful, yet underutilized marketing method. Since we trained and implemented a referral program this year, our sales are up 27%, and our close rate is up 40%,” said Ian McClarty, CEO and President of PhoenixNAP.
While many referrals will be organic, do not be afraid to reach out to customers and ask them if they would recommend you, he added. Referrals also have a much higher closing rate than other leads, he said.
“Directly ask your customers if they know one or two people with the same needs which could benefit from your services? If each client tells five people about our service, and then those companies tell other companies, then you see exponential sales growth potential. In turning each customer into a referral, it is like having an unofficial salesperson without that expensive salary,” added Ian.
Give Customer Referrals
And while receiving customer referrals will help greatly, do not discount the idea of giving a referral whenever you have the chance. Giving back is always a good strategy to raise your sales karma.
“If you want to get referrals, you should also give referrals. It is a two-way street. This is what I call the ‘referral mindset.’ Assist your contacts and grow their businesses by connecting them with people in your network, and they will return the favor,” added Ian McClarty.
Want to know what sales pros are doing to nearly double their pipeline?