Best Practices for Building Pipeline (2 of 3)

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During our recent webinar with inside sales expert, Sally Duby, we discussed the five most common roadblocks to building pipeline. As we learned, communication issues and inefficient processes are often an underlying cause of roadblocks.

In this article, we’ll explore three best practices for avoiding roadblocks and, in turn, accelerating pipeline growth.

1. Agree on the Basics

Sales and marketing have a shared responsibility for building pipeline. Marketing is primarily focused on creating awareness, driving website traffic, and converting visitors to leads. The sales team engages inbound leads and builds even more pipeline through outbound prospecting.

Although sales and marketing have distinctively different responsibilities, both teams must consciously work toward an aligned set of pipeline objectives. Developing shared objectives is impossible without first agreeing on strategy, philosophy, roles, and definitions.

Strategy & Philosophy

Everyone wants more pipeline. That’s a given. How to get more of it, however, is usually where opinions begin to diverge.

Take, for example, the discussion of lead “quality versus quantity.” Are ten mediocre leads better than one highly qualified prospect? The answer may depend on a variety of factors, such as your organization’s pipeline health and cash flow situation.

“Talk to your sales leaders and figure out where you are with your pipeline,” said Sally Duby, Chief Sales Officer, The Bridge Group, Inc. “If your pipeline is starving, then perhaps you should focus on quantity rather than quality for the time being.”

Knowing which leads to engage first can also be complicated. Developing clear segmentation rules is key to maximizing efficiency and preventing confusion.

“Early stage companies may not have the resources to be everything to everyone,” Duby said. “Segmentation delivers clarity to target prospects who have the greatest propensity to purchase.”

Roles

Simply having a sales team is no guarantee for pipeline growth. With account executives (AEs) spending most of their time pursuing existing opportunities, the front end of your pipeline can quickly dry up.

“Building pipeline isn’t a part-time job,” Duby said. “Many companies struggle because they fail to recognize the importance of having a full-time team that owns the front end of the pipeline.”

Delegating your outbound prospecting duties to a dedicated team of sales development representatives (SDRs) is one way to keep pipeline flowing.

“Sales development reps take responsibility for the front end of the pipeline,” Duby said. “This frees up your AEs to do what they do best – which is closing deals.”

Definitions

“Sales reps, marketing, and SDRs must also align around your ideal customer profile,” Duby said. “Your ICP should get everyone on the same page about the types of accounts that you’re targeting.”

Service level agreements (SLAs) formalize cross-departmental terminology and minimize the potential for future miscommunication.

“A service level agreement offers an additional layer of accountability and clarity,” Duby said. “The SLA should help everyone understand your ICP and provide specifics about buyers, roles, functions, and other key details.”

2. Get Everyone Working Together

Effective collaboration is a critical component of any pipeline-generating initiative.

“Going out for drinks after work isn’t the type of meeting that produces pipeline,” Duby said. “You must have regular, structured meetings that explore what’s working and measure conversions every step of the way.”

So, how can you structure your team meetings so that they proactively identify and overcome roadblocks to building pipeline? Taking a data-driven, collaborative approach can be an excellent place to start.

For example, let’s assume that your SDRs are primarily focused on setting appointments with leads. Once an appointment is booked, the handoff occurs automatically in your CRM. In this situation, it seems obvious that both parties should be mutually interested in appointment-related metrics, such as:

  • Number of appointments set by the SDR team
  • Pipeline value for deals originated by the SDR team
  • Percent of SDR-initiated appointments that actually occur
  • Percent of SDR-initiated appointments that convert into opportunities
  • Top reasons why SDR-initiated appointments fail to convert
  • Quality of appointments by customer segment

Tracking quantifiable metrics of mutual interest encourages everyone to embrace a holistic view of the pipeline, which makes it easier to identify innovative solutions that optimize for maximum performance.

3. Supplement with Tools & Tech

Scaling your pipeline isn’t just a “people” issue. In today’s tech-driven marketplace, there are plenty of tools that can supplement your existing processes.

“There are over 4,000 account-based tools on the market today,” Duby said. “Tools like Mixmax help sales reps automate tasks, engage more customers, and get more done.”

With so many solutions to choose from, picking the right software can feel like an overwhelming task. As a result, some organizations make the mistake of settling for the status quo. In the long run, however, failure to change can lead to a competitive disadvantage. A better approach leverages technology to overcome bottlenecks and create new competitive advantages.

“Take a closer look to determine areas where your team might be struggling,” Duby said. “Use technology as a means to supplement your team’s efforts and accelerate pipeline creation.”

Ms. Duby also advocates for technology that can enhance the systems that already contribute to your pipeline engine. “Once you’ve validated a process as repeatable and scalable, it’s time to automate pieces of it with technology,” Duby said.

Stay Tuned for More Pipeline Tips

Need more best practices for building pipeline? Stay tuned for our next article that reveals even more pipeline-building tips.

Oh, and by the way – if you’re looking for an all-in-one communications tool for building pipeline, give Mixmax a try. Create automated sales sequences, track emails in real time, and engage at exactly the right moment.


Try Mixmax free for 14 days.

 

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