The sales pipeline, generally known to most people involved in marketing or sales is referred to as the lifeblood of B2B growth. The way the sections are devided tend to vary slightly but in general they look something like this:
- Lead generation
- Lead nurturing
- Marketing qualified lead
- Sales accepted lead
- Sales qualified lead
Quite common in the business world the sales pipeline is shaped like a cone and it is used to illustrate the process of collecting customers. This is done by rounding up many, dropping them all into the top of the cone and hoping that a customer will pop out at the bottom. This is the traditional way of thinking, but tried an tested, there are more effective ways to use that cone, try flipping it upside down!
Instead of collecting masses of generalised prospects, start at the small end of the sales pipeline and put in effort to push and guide them up through the cycle. Putting lots of effort into a single more specified customer, you are much more likely to end up with a good and happy customer that is way more invested and ready to take on your concepts.
Traditionally marketing is all about numbers, how many people you can ‘throw in the top’ of your cone, later dwindling them down. You could save yourself so much time and effort if you change the way you think, traditionally isn't always the best way to think when it comes to marketing. People change, markets revolutionise, companies modernise so the way you think needs to as well. Stop wasting time putting in massive amounts of effort talking to people or advertising to people that simply are not interested! Just because you end up with a large number at the top of the sales pipeline doesn't mean you’ve done well if none of them are actually interested, or just vaguely interested. You want a near enough guaranteed customer and you want to make sure your efforts are not going to waste, time is precious so don't waste it.
Now, a lot of people can be hesitant when it comes to spending money on prospects, but when you’re working from the opposite end of the funnel (the small end) people you’re putting money and effort into are way more specified and are much more likely to become a customer. Now you need to spend a bit of money to drive your leads through the funnel using measurement and analytics to improve those conversions from visitors to leads and eventually up to a customer.
For example, let's say your goal is £1,000,000 in annual revenue, if your customer’s annual lifetime value is £10,000 per year, then you need to devise a method that you are comfortable with where you can spend a percentage of that potential money that will be earned on getting customers through the funnel because you know you’ll get it back later when they become a customer. Know also that your goal is to get £1,000,000, so mathematically set up goals to figure out how many customers you’ll need to reach that end total including the amount you spend on driving them up that funnel.
Changing the way you think is integral if you want to succeed. Flip that sales pipeline upside down, stop being lazy throwing people in the top and waiting for ‘gravity’ to do the work. Put in effort to work your specified prospects up through the process, guide them, educate them and put in effort financially too. Now share this article with the rest of your team so you can start planning how you’re going to get started!