- Posted by Steve Gruber
- On May 8, 2018
- 1 Comments
Ah, your sales funnel. For anyone in B2B sales, focusing on your funnel, or pipeline, is the key to your success. Why is the sales funnel so important? Well, it is your source of potential revenues that helps to keep the lights on, profits coming in and helps get salaries paid. As a bit of a caveat here, something to remember is the importance of sales, particularly in B2B organizations: if you have no revenue, you have no cash flow nor any profit.
Building an effective sales funnel requires the entire team, and a lot of time. We had a client take a year to build out their pipeline, but are doing incredibly well to this day. In most B2B sales cases, it can take anywhere from 6 to 18 months to build a healthy funnel that will start closing business.
Here are some tips to help you build your own B2B sales funnel.
Start Selling Now
This is particularly important for startups or owner managed and run companies. Don’t wait to sell. From a B2B perspective, the process particularly takes time and you need as much runway as possible. I’ve seen too many startups wait too long trying to perfect the product versus getting it out there, getting some early adopters, driving a bit of revenue and then taking those learnings and evolving the product further.
The same goes for established small businesses looking to grow that tend to be owner lead. Most small business owners or managers get really busy doing lots of things and sales can be left behind, typically because selling is an up-hill battle that most prefer to avoid.
A piece of advice from two mentors of mine, Chad Grenier and Chris Thompson, that’s helped me over the years is that need to think of each “no” as one step closer to a “yes”. If you don’t get the no, you can’t get the yes. It is very true.
We have done numerous blogs on why persistence in selling is important. The reason we discuss this as a key point is that it takes anywhere between 8 to 13 touches with a prospect to close a sale. A touch can be everything from your initial call to a sales presentation to signing the contract. So think about that when you are selling. Are you making enough touches to close the deal?
This hits at a couple of things. The first is selecting your target company, and then finding the appropriate contact who can make a decision on your product or service. The best way to start this process is to have an ideal target or title and then have one or two backups in case the organization doesn’t have anyone with your target title or you don’t get a response. Don’t be afraid to contact a few people in the organization, especially large ones, to see if you can get traction. Just make sure you keep yourself organized and keep your messaging the same.
This flows through each of the above points. Since most people put sales on the back burner, you need a dedicated time to focus on selling. There are many theories about when people are most likely to take your call: some say first thing during the work day, others say end of day as your prospect is winding down. The ideal time will range depending on your industry and service.
What you can do is dedicate time on a regular basis to focus solely on outbound sales efforts. If you need to, turn off your phone, close your door, go into the conference room – just find a place where you can focus and start. The key is starting. Once you get rolling, things will just flow.
Do Your Research
The better the quality of leads you are calling the higher the probability of success. Understand what your ideal customer looks like and go after those. I know in some cases it can be hard to define or get super specific in your targeting. If you’re struggling with this, pick a vertical or two and try going after them. If no success, try another vertical or two. This vertical targeting idea tends to be something startups embark on more than anyone else simply because at the beginning, it can be hard to know 100% what your target market it.
Sometimes adjustments need to be made based on responses or meetings with prospects. In certain situations we have come across, the initial target market turned out not to be the target market at all. We found that out by doing meetings and calls with targets in the initial vertical only to find out the business pain wasn’t as serious as we originally thought. During those meetings though, other target markets arose that turned out to be a better fit with a higher ROI.
Use a Sales CRM
Salesforce.com, Hubspot, Zoho etc…it doesn’t matter which one but use one. Keeping track of your targets, history and funnel is important and it is also a dynamic process. As you contact more and more prospects, you will honestly forget who you called in the past and will need to rely on a tool like a sales CRM to keep you organized and on track.
Use all social channels at your disposal to share your story, value proposition and messaging. I have had good success leveraging LinkedIn for prospecting and find that for B2B sales it is the best vehicle.
If you’re looking for tips on how to improve your B2B sales lead generation efforts or are considering outsourcing your B2B sales and marketing, please don’t hesitate to contact us. For great insight into startup sales and marketing, feel free to sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Twitter.