When building your B2B sales and marketing pipeline, remember that every marketing campaign and content asset, and every contact a potential customer has with sales, should impact a pipeline metric. At the same time, stay adaptable and open to finding new or better ways to engage potential customers and increase the probability of closing a sale. Think of pipeline marketing as an evolutionary versus a static system. As new data comes to light, use it to review the pipeline and make modifications when appropriate.
1. Identify your target market, segment, and define the buyer persona
Start by building a strong foundation. Successful, optimized marketing pipeline systems require upfront planning.
Create an ideal customer profile, define your target market, then, depending on your audience and the product or service you’re selling, segment the market. Segmentation can be based on corporate revenue and market share for B2B sales and demographics, behavior, and even psychographics for B2C sales. These are the psychological aspects that influence purchase behavior, such as interest values, lifestyle, social status,
opinions, and activities. Once targeting and segmentation are complete, develop a marketing strategy, including inbound marketing, to generate awareness and support the sales pipeline from start to finish.
2. Design your pitch and selling strategy
Once you’ve completed step one, create your pitch. Most buyers today expect a customized buyer’s journey. Pitches and tools may be slightly different based on the marketing segments you’ve identified and different buyer personas.
Develop a brief elevator pitch as well as a formal sales pitch. Define the associated sales tools and fresh content needed, then create these marketing assets. Consider the pain points and needs that drive people or businesses to seek a product or service like yours, and address how and why you provide the best solution. Highlight benefits and anchor your pitch in data when possible. Close the pitch with an open-ended question creating a space to have a conversation.
3. Identify target companies and target accounts
Use the information you gleaned from the market and segmentation process to identify target companies and accounts. Prioritize them and develop a game plan that focuses first on those most likely to buy. If you’re selling B2B, identify the types of people involved in the decision-making process and who will ultimately make and approve a purchase decision. You’ll want to influence everyone involved in the process with customized content and sales messaging.
4. Identify the right internal contacts
Don’t waste your time contacting and talking with the wrong contacts. Perform research to identify the title or role to find the right decision-makers.
5. Perform outreach
Use different methods to engage with contacts and build interest. Customized emails, using social media (e.g., through LinkedIn) to connect with potential customers, or even direct mail and phone calls may be used. You’ll have identified and created the tools and content for this when developing the marketing and sales strategy.
6. Schedule meetings and demos
Based on your outreach results, move prospects to the next pipeline stage by scheduling meetings (video or in-person) and demos. Provide prospects with a specific case study similar to their own problem/solution scenario. Build their trust and confidence in your skills and expertise and your solution. If you determine a proposal is the next step, provide one after the meeting.
Every customer is different, but most will have more questions, present some objections, and seek some kind of additional incentive to buy. Be prepared for this by going through various scenarios and develop negotiation tools and strategies for each. Have pre-approved deal sweeteners available you can offer at your discretion. Develop methods to drive home the value and quality of your brand and your product or service and why it’s the best solution to meet their needs.
8. Sale and follow up
Don’t sell it and forget it. A happy customer is often a repeat customer and an advocate for your brand and product or service.
Ensure order fulfillment occurs as you described it and your company delivers the expected customer experience. Develop ways to stay in contact aside from formal customer reviews. Use e-newsletters, and send targeted new product/service announcements and pertinent press releases to keep in touch. Continue to build a relationship with a client and provide adequate account management.
Pipeline marketing is an essential component of the sales and marketing strategy for many companies. It requires collecting sales and marketing data, reviewing it, and accurately interpreting it, then taking actions to widen the sales pipeline and close more deals.