In the current digital age, the internet provides customers with a wealth of information at their fingertips. Many B2B sellers may believe that their potential customers can gather everything they need through their online research and can easily define their needs. It turns out that many B2B buyers are greatly uncertain and stressed during the process. Both B2B sellers and buyers can benefit from a well-defined buying process.
What is a B2B pipeline?
A sales pipeline refers to the number of potential deals that are waiting to be closed. The B2B sales process is becoming more complex, with greater numbers of meetings and presentations needed before a sale is agreed. In any given B2B pipeline there are numerous contacts at different stages in their buying journey.
Sales KPIs are useful metrics to measure when determining the value of different stages of the pipeline. Understanding how much potential deals there are and the probability of which ones may be successfully closed can aid in determining which customers are at what stages.
Marketing campaigns shaped using emails, content, ads, and events are vital to attracting and engaging prospects. Ensure it is the perfect fit for your target audience. Offer them the answers they need at the correct time and using the correct content.
Content is key to leading your prospects along their buying journey and into the high commitment stage. If you have expertise in your field then you should adopt thought leadership to your content strategy. Offer your expertise through your content with written blogs and video content. As the relationship progresses you will gather contact information and use this to schedule meetings.
Nurture the lead
Persuading prospects to continue through your pipeline is most effective when you nurture that relationship in the early stages. Marketing and sales teams should be working together to achieve this. While sales teams are engaging with potential leads, the marketing team should be focused on targeting these leads with relevant content at the right time using the appropriate channels.
Social media is a greatly effective digital tool for nurturing leads through the pipeline. It is a key platform for sharing content and engaging with potential customers. Display your products and services at the correct time all while continuing to engage with them and it may encourage them to request a quote for your services or tempt them to try a trial.
Sending a proposal
The decision-making process is taking longer than ever. An average of 6.8 people is now involved in the decision-making process. Unilateral decision makers rarely exist in the business world of today.
Your contact at a business is your prized asset. Impress them with a creative proposal, then coach them to bring that proposal to the rest of the decision makers on their team. Turn them into an expert who can speak on your behalf, and aid them with any tools they may need.
You’ve prepped your proposal and your representative. Now it is time to sway the other decision makers. Gather information from your contact. Understand what their stake is, what issues they may have, and prepare to proactively combat those matters.
Continue to keep your contact in the loop. Check in regularly to check-up on the direction in which the process is heading. This can get you ahead and of the ‘no’ crowd and allow you to intervene before they go too far down that route.
Closing with a win or a loss
The key to this stage is to follow-up, no matter the decision of your prospects. If the decision went your way it is now time to deliver on your promises. Provide the new customer with your product, excellent customer service, and continued support throughout the relationship.
Securing a client is not the end of the pipeline. Build on your proposal. While it is important to deliver on what was proposed, you should also move beyond this. Sales and marketing, once again, should work together to extend the relationship. Delivering exceptional service will increase the chances of them referring you to other businesses and increase ROI.
Not every lead will convert into a customer. This does not mean you have to write them off completely. You have already laid the groundwork and the circumstances and needs of the company may change.
Ask for feedback as to why they didn’t choose your business. You can work on this feedback if it becomes time to pitch again further down the line. Circumstances can change in your business too. Perhaps you will add a new product or feature that closer fulfills their needs.
Remain in contact using your marketing strategy and providing relevant and useful content via social media or email to maintain the relationship.
How to strengthen your pipeline
Focus on improving the quality of the leads in your pipeline rather than trying to increase the number of potential leads. This is more likely to lead to better results that have been achieved far more efficiently as your sales teams will be focusing on the hottest, qualified leads. Your sales team can be more productive if they are not wasting their time on low-level leads that are not likely to become a buyer.
Proactively keep in contact with your current customers and aim to exceed their expectations. Delivering a top-class service can increase the likelihood of a repurchase. Loyalty is also key to a successful B2B relationship. Delivering a great service can ensure your customers will stick with you and perhaps upgrade their membership. Encourage them to give feedback and listen to what they want.