The sales pipeline is the lifeblood of every sales team, providing a visual representation of where all opportunities stand in the sales process. It gives sales reps and leaders insight into deal size, sales velocity, revenue forecasts, and more.
A good sales pipeline can help sales reps move prospects along the sales cycle, from nascent opportunity to closed sale, forecasting more accurately as they go. And it gives sales leaders the visibility they need to coach sellers, help them meet sales targets, and manage executive expectations.
Since not every opportunity makes it to the finish line, most sales managers want pipeline size to be 1.25x to 1.5x a sales rep’s quota. Here are ten tips to help you get there.
1. Use LinkedIn for prospecting
Social media is an excellent tool for lead generation. For B2B sales reps, LinkedIn is ideal for finding and connecting with new prospects. You can:
- Find contact information, employment history, and industry events.
- Interact with decision-makers and thought leaders in your industry.
- Include a LinkedIn message as part of your Cadence (for example, follow up after a cold call).
- Stay up-to-date with competitors and future clients.
Despite the above, only 43% of sellers on LinkedIn are using it as part of their prospecting process. Get started by following potential customers and industry leaders. Comment on their posts (you need to say more than “great read!”), so they’re familiar with your name when you reach out as part of a prospecting Cadence.
2. Look a level deeper when identifying decision-makers
When identifying decision-makers, make the most of early sales pipeline stages by conducting research. LinkedIn offers insight into commonalities you didn’t realize you shared with prospects. For example, the potential customer may have mutual connections, universities in common, or discussions they’ve participated in. See how to incorporate this information in a sales email.
Leveraging software integrations can help you scale your efforts here. For example, a LinkedIn integration with your CRM software or sales engagement platform can sync details and provide real-time alerts for promotions and new roles. Integration with a sales data tool imports company and contact information directly into your workflows.
3. Ask for referrals
Referrals open doors all across the sales cycle, delivering close to 40% of new leads for companies, according to Heinz Marketing. Referrals often have higher conversion rates because the potential buyer has already spoken with a reference.
New customers care about what old customers have to say, so be sure to follow up and maintain positive relationships with past clientele. As a result, your referred lead will enter the relationship with a positive first impression.
4. Take time to make discovery calls
Get yourself past the initial sales pipeline stages by conducting thorough discovery calls, no matter the number of deals in your pipeline.
Discovery calls are the first conversation you’ll have with a potential client after they’ve expressed interest. These calls are pivotal to both strong pipelines and sales strategies because they’re your chance to build rapport, understand the prospect’s pain point, and push qualifying leads further into the sales funnel. With a Conversation Intelligence tool, you can share the recorded call with the marketing team, customer success, and more to ensure a seamless experience.
And remember, it’s just as important to weed out the prospects who aren’t a fit at this stage as to move along the prospects who are. Your pipeline should start with a wide mouth at the beginning, which quickly tapers into a uniform pipeline shape.
5. Take another look in your CRM
One of the biggest challenges is building the initial stages of the sales pipeline. At some point, every sales rep has panicked during a pipeline review. When the panic subsides, go to your sales CRM; it’s a gold mine of information. An easy starting place is upsell opportunities.
Then, using a CRM integration, you can unlock the full power of a sales engagement platform. For example, identify contacts displaying buying signals, such as attending webinars, multiple website visits, or interacting on social media. Rely on artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to identify contacts to reach out to or accounts where a decision-maker has not been identified.
6. Strengthen your personal brand
Strengthening your personal brand bolsters your sales pipeline by familiarizing you with prospects before you ever reach out. A personal brand helps establish a connection and gives qualified leads a glimpse of the person behind the screen. Get tips to build your personal brand from a LinkedIn influencer.
As you build your following, share insightful content and engage with your network. Bring real value to conversations by creating and sharing material that benefits your audience. Doing so consistently will help you stand out and improve your social selling.
7. Be a thought leader
A thought leader isn’t just someone who stands out. Thought leaders are industry voices who offer unique insights to their peers and prospects.
While a personal brand will broaden your online presence, branding yourself as a thought leader will help establish you as an authority your prospects can trust.
Continue creating content that offers an insider’s perspective on your industry. Aim to educate by answering questions your competitors aren’t—or if they are, add unique value to recurring pain points like pricing or onboarding.
Participate in discussions with your peers, either online or at in-person events. People will pay attention to what you and your team have to say if you position yourself as an advisor.
8. Replicate success with templates and workflows
A strong pipeline is built with solid, consistent communication. Identify your organization’s highest-performing email templates and sales workflows and replicate them. This is one of the ways sales leaders can make every seller their best seller.
Here are some tips for writing an effective sales email:
- Craft a subject line that stands out. The shorter the better, we found.
- Add real value by showing them how you want to help.
- Keep your copy concise, conversational, and straight to the point.
- Give plain directions on how you two can move to the next stage.
Successful sales emails also reach out at the right time. Mailchimp says 10 a.m. on any weekday is ideal, but you should use a sales engagement platform with timezone and out-of-office detection to find the perfect window.
9. Make it easy for the prospect to reply
We mentioned keeping your emails concise and incorporating plain directions — this makes it easier for the prospect to reply and keeps sales opportunities moving.
Both sellers and buyers have finite time, so strong sales pipelines streamline sales activities wherever possible, including conversations.
In other words, simplify your email copy. Ideally, your prospect only has to respond with “yes,” “no,” or “try me again later.”
You should also reach out on other platforms. Email outreach is versatile, but some buyers prefer LinkedIn, phone calls, SMS, or direct messages. Use automated workflows and multi-channel communications to expand and personalize your approach.
10. Don’t underestimate the follow up
Create a system for following up with potential buyers, including timing, Cadence, and contact method. Many times a salesperson will give up after just a couple of tries.
A sales engagement platform can automate the process with trigger rules. For example, when a prospect clicks a link in an email, automation can trigger a follow-up task. Or maybe when you haven’t received a reply after three days, another email is triggered.
While the examples above all relate to email, it’s important to note that email isn’t effective for every potential customer, so you should incorporate multi-channel messaging into your buyer’s journey.
Improve your sales pipeline management with Salesloft
Building a strong and healthy sales pipeline helps you hit sales goals and build connections with prospects, but it requires ongoing effort.
Salesloft Deals improves your sales pipeline management and keeps closable opportunities on track. Work with your favorite CRM software, track pipeline metrics in comprehensive dashboards, and enjoy greater functionality by integrating with LinkedIn Sales Navigator and 150+ other apps. You can also create sales workflows with defined stages and allow your team to effortlessly monitor every stage of the pipeline.
Discover more and bolster your sales pipeline by booking a demo today.