You may be wondering what pipeline generation is – In marketing, your pipeline is a visualisation of where prospects are in the sales process, showing you how many deals are expected to close in a given week, month or year (Toma Kulbytė). B2B pipeline generation can be challenging for even the most experienced marketing professionals, but finding the right strategies to create demand, and then the right strategies to convert prospects will improve your pipeline, and in turn will grow your revenue (Jennifer Groese).
According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, organisations that mastered specific pipeline practices experienced a 28% growth in revenue! (Cloduara.AI). For B2B sales, having a good sales pipeline not only improves your revenue growth, but allows you to enhance your sales process, analyse different sales strategies, review your progress, and predict future business outcomes – it is key for closing more sales deals (Toma Kulbytė). So what should you be doing to ensure you generate a good pipeline as a B2B company?
Firstly, you need to consider the channels you are using, and ask yourself which are most impactful on your business pipeline?
- Social Media
As we all know social media is currently bigger than ever, so this is a good starting point. LinkedIn in particular is great for B2B lead generation with the ability to segment targeted audiences by industry, job title etc (Jennifer Groese). Build a rapport with prospects through conversation, making connections and sharing their posts. Update your feed regularly demonstrating how your product or service can benefit your customer (Rachel Chipman).
- Email Marketing
The perfect way to engage your prospects or upsell to existing clients, but make sure you personalise your emails – it should look like its written by and to an individual (Rachel Chipman). According to a Chief Marketer study, click-through rates are almost 50% higher in B2B email communication than B2C (Jennifer Groese).
- PPC & SEO
You need to ensure your website has a clear message and every piece of content has a call-to-action. Once your website is optimised for SEO, you can start implementing offsite SEO tactics to drive traffic. According to a study from Hubspot, SEO is the best avenue to drive B2B leads (Jennifer Groese). SEO takes time, and if you want instant results, you can use Google ads to drive targeted traffic instead.
Now you have your channels sorted, it’s important to pair these with effective strategies in order to gain full potential for your B2B lead generation.
Create Engaging Content for Your Prospects
Providing your prospects with in-depth information is crucial to help them understand if your product or service is right for their business (Toma Kulbytė). Content marketing has become an increasingly popular way to connect with prospects in a way that doesn’t make them feel like they are being pushed into a sale. Organic content that provides information on products and services provides value to the customer, whereas cold calls and emails require your prospects’ time.
You need to consider what kind of content you want to provide; it has been proven that interactive content gets up to 50% more engagement than static content (Jennifer Groese); content on platforms that allow users to start conversations with other users or ask brands questions is very valuable; and content at different stages of the customer journey play different roles in the decision making process.
Outline your Ideal Sales Cycle and Keep it Short
Your sales cycle represents each step of progress to gaining a new client. Initially you need to target your contact – this contact will turn into a lead which requires more contact and qualification to proceed through the cycle (Michel Koopman). This lead will either qualify or disqualify into a sales opportunity with the ultimate goal of closing the deal (Michel Koopman). Unlike B2C, B2B sales cycles can be extremely long, resulting in a higher chance of your prospect changing their mind or finding an alternative solution (Toma Kulbytė). According to CSO insights, 27% of sales reps say that a long sales cycle is one of the biggest barriers to sales effectiveness (Toma Kulbytė). Therefore, keeping your sales cycle as short as possible is essential.
Nurture your Current Prospects and Focus on the Best Leads
Lead nurturing is one of the most effective ways to gain and keep your clients, so don’t be so focused on generating new leads if it means that you forget about those who have already converted (Jennifer Groese). There are some marketing automation tools available that allow you to score prospects based on their engagement and behaviour with your brand. This is a very useful way of keeping on top of which prospects represent the most meaningful opportunities, what further information they need to make a decision and how you should interact with them next.
If you don’t use martech software to help you with your lead nurturing, you should take a closer look at your sales process and concentrate your efforts on the most sales-ready and high-quality leads (Toma Kulbytė). Identify which leads you should be focusing on by sorting your sales dashboard from high to low – you can view the sales activity to see which leads are most engaged and are therefore most valuable to your company (Toma Kulbytė).
There are many ways your company can generate an effective sales pipeline, but the most important of all if to be real and authentic. A salesperson’s success is based on their ability to build a relationship, show a genuine interest in their clients, and offer value. With B2B sales, there are multiple stakeholders involved, so it becomes even more important to position yourself as an expert and keep the process short!