Salespeople typically understand that a “sales pipeline” is the progression of contacts through the various stages of a selling cycle. However, few probably take the time to reflect on the actual meaning of the word “pipeline”.
Think about the role pipes play in ushering water, oil and other liquids from one point to another. If you get dirt, grime and other undesirable contents in the pipe, it becomes clogged, backed up and eventually stalled. Consider the same impact poor, unqualified leads can have on the pipeline through which your contacts travel.
Identifying a Clog
Ideally, you execute effective qualifying processes and lead nurturing activities such that you never face a pipeline bottleneck. However, the sales funnel view in a typical CRM program is often a good place to start to identify potential clogs. If your funnel or lead pipeline is overflowing at the prospecting stage, for instance, you have challenges with making initial contacts and qualifying your leads.
Creating a Steady Flow
Qualifying prospects is at the heart of a healthy lead generation system. First, you need to paint a clear picture of the types of prospects that fit with each of your solutions. Doing so establishes the types of buyers that could flow through your pipeline in the most efficient way.
When you know who to target, you qualify by asking questions that allow you to detect whether a buyer fits well into your pipeline. Imagine trying to stuff steak, hamburger or bones down your waste disposal. These items would quickly clog up your plumbing pipes. In the same way, you need high-quality leads that fit seamlessly into the opening of your pipeline.
Continue with Lead Nurturing
After you create a clean start for your sales lead pipeline with qualified leads, you shift to lead nurturing. This process of garnering further interest in your solutions from qualified buyers helps maintain a steady pipeline flow.
During lead nurturing, you may encounter buyers that aren’t prepared or able to buy. (Read this post about what to do when your prospect says “I’m not interested”). Ushering these contacts off to the side (perhaps through a branch in your pipeline) ensures efficient progression with high-quality prospects and developing your lead pipeline better.
With the remaining prospects, the use of content marketing and initial sales communication are paramount in continuing their path toward the conversion stages of your pipeline.
Converting qualified leads receives much of the attention in the salesperson’s role. However, getting appointments with high-quality prospects is critical to a healthy lead generation system and sales pipeline. Clogging your pipeline from the start creates even greater messages and inefficiencies down the road.
One way to avoid clogs is to partner with a company that specialises in appointment setting with your target market. Internal Results manages the appointment setting phase of your lead generation so your team can focus on the rest of the pipeline.