Does your sales pipeline have leaks or bottlenecks?

A healthy sales pipeline is crucial to the success of any B2B company, but it’s difficult to strike exactly the right balance. Your pipeline could spring a leak, causing you to lose leads through the holes. Or it could become clogged through bottlenecks in your sales process. An integrated marketing platform can help you both patch the leaks and ease any clogs for better results.

According to an infographic from Salesforce, 73 percent of the leads that you initially attract are not immediately ready to buy. However, you can convert a larger number of these prospects if you employ lead-nurturing campaigns and train reps on how to prioritize accounts. Many companies focus too hard on generating a higher number of leads, but this can contribute to an overflow in your sales pipeline. Lead quality should always be the priority over quantity. Your pipeline needs to be structured to reduce the number of total prospects while nurturing leads who aren’t ready to buy yet.

Focusing on quality can help you attract the right kind of prospects who are more likely to convert. With leads who are a good fit for your product or service, there will be fewer bottlenecks in your pipeline. When sales representatives are trying to manage too many potential deals at once, they could end up missing a sales-ready lead at the last minute. Prospects tend to choose the vendor that is most responsive to their inquiries, so failing to follow up right away could cause you to lose a sale.

B2B buyers are more selective than ever before

It isn’t just your pipeline that’s the problem, the buying cycle is getting longer. Prospects take longer to research and evaluate their options before making a selection, and a larger number of decision-makers are often involved in the process. Even though leads want vendors to get back to them quickly, they are harder to reach. In 2007, it took 3.68 cold calls to connect with a prospect, an infographic from Roambi stated. In 2014, that number has crept up to eight calls.

Additionally, many leads will buy after sales reps follow up more than five times. However, many salespeople give up after the fifth attempt, which could cause you to miss the deal by a narrow margin. And another issue is that 46 percent of companies believe their pipeline is healthy, according to the infographic. You can’t fix leaks or clogs without knowing where they happen. Forty percent of sales reps don’t understand what their clients need, and this will cause many of them to miss their quotas, despite a large number of leads in the pipeline. A full pipeline won’t mean much unless sales employees have a deep understanding of customer needs. An integrated marketing environment can provide better visibility into the pipeline and help your team create more relevant content to guide the sales process.

Your sales process matters for the health of your pipeline

Both infographics highlighted the importance of sales behavior for converting prospects and increasing the health of your pipeline. Having a successful pipeline means you have a more consistent source of revenue, which can help your sales team cope with feast or famine situations. Here are some tips for instilling a culture of good sales behavior to make the most of your Internet lead generation efforts:

  • Collaborate: If you staff a separate sales and marketing team, it’s crucial for these two groups to work together. Without sales and marketing alignment, marketers could end up producing content that doesn’t resonate with buyers’ needs. Collaboration between the two teams could improve lead nurturing efforts as well.
  • Improve lead qualification: Sales reps should only be spending their time pursuing the right prospects. With basic lead scoring, it’s fairly easy to determine the prospects who will never buy and aren’t a good match for your company anyway. However, if leads made vague commitments or displayed interest a long time ago, it can be difficult to let it go. You may need to reassess your qualifying factors.
  • Use lead nurturing: Just because someone isn’t ready to buy right away doesn’t mean he or she never will. Targeted lead nurturing campaigns can build the relationship with prospects and ensure your business stays at the front of mind while they take their time to make a decision.
  • Have the right tools in place: One of the best ways to streamline the sales pipeline is giving your reps the technology they need to succeed. An integrated marketing environment increases visibility, meaning you can see where there are leaks or bottlenecks and refine your sales process. These platforms also provide better indications that leads may be ready to buy and can send alerts, which prevents your sales team from missing anything.