As a Sales Manager, it’s important to focus the efforts of your team on the behaviors that matter. That said, it can be tough deciding where to steer the ship sometimes, as there are so many tactics and techniques that are deemed “the most important” by various sales leaders and business publications. But, ultimately, it doesn’t matter whose advice you adhere to if you aren’t putting it to work at the right point in the sales pipeline.
Here are a few proven practices to successfully guide your sales team at each stage in the sales pipeline:
Use Social Media for Lead Generation
Pipeline Point: Top
While marketing is typically in charge social media engagement, some of the most successful salespeople observe and interact with prospects on social networks to help generate leads early in the sales cycle. But, with so many social media channels and some sales reps general lack of digital fluency, some of your sales reps may be hesitant to start broadcasting their business beliefs to the world. As a starting point, encourage your team to share your company’s best content and ask your marketing team which channels are the most impactful for your industry. With a little expert guidance and pre-crafted company content to ease the process, your sales team will quickly learn to “like” posting to social media and the early-stage leads it helps them land.
Focus on Revenue Generating Channels
Pipeline Stage: Top
Leads can come in through a variety of channels depending on what your company’s marketing strategy looks like, so it’s important to note which channel is creating the leads that are resulting in the most revenue. For example, you may be generating tons of leads with early-stage content, such as e-books or blog articles, but those leads may not be converting into actual sales as much as your event leads. Wherever your revenue is coming from, take the initiative to work with your marketing team to figure out how you can focus more of your lead generation efforts on channels with a proven track record of generating revenue.
Define, Track & Optimize Relevant KPIs
Pipeline Point: Middle
Regardless of how your company structures its sales team, every member of your sales team should have a solid grasp on the best practices for converting MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) to SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads). Otherwise, you may spring a leak at this integral point in your pipeline. Once you’ve worked with your sales and marketing team to identify the specific definitions for these metrics and the hand-off process, it’s time to start tracking. Work toward monthly goals and measure your progress along the way. If it makes sense, measure weekly. The key here is giving you and your team the visibility to see when you might be falling behind so you can immediately adapt. Additionally, measuring your MQL-to-SQL conversions will provide you with a high-level view of where your team may be excelling or falling behind.
Personalize Your Outreach Process
Pipeline Point: Middle
When your sales reps start to get hung up at this point in the pipeline, they may be falling victim to changes in consumer behaviors. After all, prospects want something different and game-changing. While your company’s product may be both of those things, your team’s process for contacting leads doesn’t automatically reflect that, so it’s your job to encourage them to adapt to the changing tides and personalize their methods accordingly. One way to do that is to have your reps check Salesforce to see what brought their leads into the sales pipeline in the first place (e.g., email campaigns, event badge scans, white paper downloads) and craft a custom email based on that data. However they elect to do it, the more your team personalizes their outreach process, the less likely they’ll be to hit a sales slump at this point in the pipeline.
Engage Opportunities with ‘Closer Content’
Pipeline Point: Bottom
When a prospect converts into an opportunity, it’s prime time for your team to break out the “closer content.” Simply put, “closer content” is your company’s best stuff – the content that closes deals. It’s a tried-and-true way to connect with your best opportunities on a deeper level and paint a picture of success for their company using your service or product. This content should be both pristine and personalized toward the specific pain points of the company or the industry they call home. One way to encourage the use of “closer content” is to create a “content resource” spreadsheet filled with your best case studies, end-of-stage documents and customizable templates, then separate those resources by industry or pain points. Whatever the approach, promoting “closer content” is a proven way to close deals.