Bring your sales team the best leads with these 12 pipeline strategies

With good marketing strategies, you can attract plenty of leads to your business. However, it doesn’t matter how many you have if those leads are low-quality.

The Business Journals

A good sales development pipeline will ensure your sales team is only receiving the best leads. That’s why we asked a panel of Business Journals Leadership Trust members to share the most important aspects of a good sales development pipeline.

1. Relationship insights
Tools like LinkedIn and LinkedIn Sales Navigator are great for identifying relationships that could be “warmer” than a cold call. Further, it’s likely that useful relationship insights exist within your own client data. They may be accessible by leveraging artificial intelligence/machine learning tools that can deliver relationship information and even suggest the best next action based on data analysis. – Nichole Jordan, Grant Thornton LLP

2. The BANT method
The BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing) method of lead generation is a good route to follow as long as you are not too rigid with it. You don’t want to interrogate potential customers — instead, use BANT to understand budget pressures, the decision-making hierarchy, the problem(s) they are trying to solve and if an event has escalated the need to act sooner rather than later. – AJ Brown, LeadsRx, Inc.

3. Lead source channels
Know your specific numbers. Track the source of all of your leads that turn into sales. Put more focus on where the good leads come from. Either avoid the sources of poor-quality leads or see how you can change the experience with the bad lead sources to improve the quality of leads. – Brian McCarthy, Birmingham Orthodontics

4. Qualification data
We use a qualifying client intake form and interview process. This way we can gauge the seriousness of the potential engagement and the budget they’ve allotted (or not) and identify any potential leadership culture elements that may impact our work with them. – Liz Wooten-Reschke, Connect For More

5. Messaging for each level of the sales funnel
As a marketer, I try to create advertising and messaging that speaks to each level of the sales funnel. Video case studies and client testimonials are amazing tools that can attract new leads at each of those stages. The sales team is trained on how to use those studies and testimonials to overcome misconceptions and provide proof of concept. Doing that increases the sales-close ratio. – Keith Woods, KB Woods Public Relations

6. Early fact-finding and validation
Early fact-finding and validation are critical. Too often you spend time working with a new prospect only to find they are not a good fit. Being transparent early on and getting past some of the common deal-breakers for your industry will save you from unwisely investing your time. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology

7. A realistic closing percentage
Determine a realistic closing percentage for any leads, along with the associated quantifiable revenue, to help you prioritize leads and assess the activity needed to generate the amount of new business you need to close. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

8. A defined ideal client
Targeting ideal clients in marketing is the hallmark of receiving the best leads. Any pipeline begins with defining who is being targeted, and it is essential to start with quality at the top. The sales will flow naturally and organically when the defined, specific work is nailed down with solving specific problems for specific clients. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

9. A way to disqualify leads
Disqualifying leads rather than qualifying them is an eye-opening insight we learned from our friends at Sandler. When working to get new clients on board, your job is not to persuade someone that you’re good — that you’re good is a given. Your job is to determine if you can help that particular prospect. It’s a mental shift all business owners need to make these days. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

10. A scoring system
Scoring leads based on predetermined actions ensures you are doing three things well. First, scoring ensures sales spends time on solid leads based on predetermined criteria. Second, you can see who still needs nurturing, so marketing can take appropriate action. And third, scoring stops you from wasting time on people who are a poor fit, either by demographic or behavioral measures. – Linda Bishop, Thought Transformation

11. The right technology
In today’s market, the sales department needs to have technology working for them. Technology can automate lead development, initial contact, follow-up, lead scoring and ongoing drip marketing. By leveraging technology the sales department can spend time selling versus spending time on non-sales-related activities. Executed correctly, technology will increase leads, opportunities and sales. – Brock Berry, AdCellerant

12. A method for engaging existing clients
Engage your existing, long-term clients. First, they may have more work for you. Second, they may have people in their network who would value you the same way they do. – Brent Foley, TRIAD Architects

13 Expert Tips For Closing The Sales Loop

Marketers usually put a lot of thought and effort into crafting the perfect campaign, from choosing the ideal audience to streamlining their marketing techniques and more. Drawing in customers is the primary goal of any marketing strategy, but conversions come from closing the sales loop.

13 Expert Tips for Closing the Sales Loop

Things like crafting the customer journey, establishing relationships with the buyer and defining the ideal purchaser are all remixes to this particular tune. Even the successful sales funnel method uses a similar idea to get consumers to click the “Buy Now” button. Here, 13 professionals from Forbes Agency Council examine the most effective ways that businesses can seek to close their sales loop.

1. Include Sales From The Start

Especially in business-to-business scenarios, ensuring the sales team is brought into the campaign is the single most important success driver. The end customer expects campaigns to be hyper-personalized, which means understanding and catering to their needs, blockers and goals. To drive meaningful results, include sales early, starting from the ideation stage, and maintain their involvement throughout the campaign life cycle. – Andrew Au, Intercept Group

2. Make The First Move

Making the first offer to the customer at a “no risk” or free trial is still a compelling way to draw the customer in for a close. Let them test and live with the brand with the intention that they will become a long-time user. Therefore, “lifetime customer value” metrics are calculated, which is the real value to a brand. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

3. Define The Path To Purchase

Before inviting prospects to a campaign, it’s a good idea to lay out the path to purchase for your prospect. We use call-to-action campaigns on our website and set them up as goals in analytics tracking. Use contact forms, e-books or site audits. Then define how to close the loop. Our sales team then follows up with timed client touch points until the leads are vetted and closed using our customer relationship management (CRM) tool. – Michael Fox, Corberry Digital

4. Build Sincere Personal Relationships

For customers, what matters most is establishing sincere personal relationships. Beyond closing the sales loop, customers must feel that your organization truly understands them and their business. Establishing this connection from the first touch point to purchase to customer support will not only help close the sale, but create powerful advocates for your brand and potential upsell opportunities. – Michaela Dempsey, Scout RFP

5. Create A Journey For Each Prospect

As marketers, we tend to look at things in the way that they apply to us, so all that matters may be those sales results. But the customer on the other side is a human too, with their own viewpoint, and they don’t want your sale forced on them. Instead, make it their choice by inviting them into a conversation and taking them on a personalized journey through marketing and sales. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO

6. Understand The Customer’s True Need

Depending on your business, you might use different approaches to close the sale but ultimately, what it comes down to is whether you’ve identified the customer’s true need and motivation and whether your product or service offers the right solution. If you can demonstrate to the customer that your solution is the best way to address their need, the customer will be ready to make the decision. – Inna Semenyuk, InnavationLabs

7. Integrate Sales And Marketing

In our own experience, we have seen more often than not that marketing campaigns are run and leads are generated. And then no one knows what happened to the leads or how much got converted. This is typically because of corporate silos that modern-day businesses operate. It is important to integrate the sales process into the marketing process and insist on a regular feedback loop. – Hareesh Tibrewala, Mirum India

8. Use Short-Form Content To Convert

Your content strategy needs to follow customers’ path to purchase and create both long- and short-form content. Think “help” content to drive traffic from search, “how-to” videos to get into the set of consideration of potential customers. Then provide social media users with a short piece of content that will ultimately help them make a decision: a link to a press article, an influencer post, etc. – Aurelie Sauthier, Made in

9. Tell Customers What You Want Them To Do

In short, tell customers what you want them to do and give them a reason to do it. Too often, brands try to simultaneously “build their brand” and get consumers to take immediate action, which can lead to confusion. Say one thing and say it (very) well by giving customers a strong and clear call to action that inspires them to make the purchase. Dial up authentic and confident language. – Edward Hoffman

10. Keep A Record

Use analytical tools to extract your lead source information and export it to a CRM system or lead-capture software. A great record helps keep your leads in the loop, replicates buyer personas and provides insight regarding your customer base. – Ashar Jamil, Digitally Up

11. Think Beyond The Lead Funnel

To close the sales loop you need the customer to see not just why they need to buy what you have to offer, but also why now. To help customers justify a decision and move to a purchase, marketers should align with sales as another channel to the customer and design campaigns, both the content and touch points, to work hard beyond the first response. – Alisha Lyndon, MomentumABM

12. Leverage Emotional Resonance

Your value proposition is the balance of the perceived costs and benefits of buying your products. The most overlooked word there is “perceived,” since the only thing that matters is how your customers “interpret” what you say. People buy based on their emotional reactions, not logic. You need to understand which emotional cues your customers interpret and how to resonate with their expectations. – Chris Goward, Widerfunnel

13. Use An Integrated CRM

It’s critical to have a system in place that delivers leads to sales agents who can follow up on them. As a Hubspot-certified agency, we love the way Hubspot allows us to design inbound campaigns and set up lead flows that integrate right into our clients’ CRM systems. It creates a closed-loop process that shows the effectiveness of the campaign and holds people accountable for closing on leads. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative