Categories
pipeline development

Creating The Optimal Business Development Strategy

For a lot of people, business development is practically synonymous with sales. And while they have their similarities—both are geared towards profit, after all—they are two distinct entities.

What is Business Development?

Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization via customers, markets, and relationships. It’s the sum of all the strategies, tactics, and activities used to acquire new clients and expand existing ones.

Given this definition, we can assume that business development representatives are in charge of growing your business. This means finding opportunities for expansion and having expert knowledge of the current market, their target audience, and potential business partners. Thus, they’re the ones who have to prospect and qualify leads before handing them off to the sales team, who will then nurture the new relationships in order to close the deal.

Business Development vs. Sales vs. Marketing

The lines between business development, sales, and marketing are very blurry. There are several overlapping responsibilities between the three teams, and it doesn’t help that business development can look very different from company to company.

Let’s take a look at their differences:

Marketing: Marketing is the customer-facing branch of your organization, and its primary goal is to attract customers.  The marketing team is responsible for brand management, using websites, social media, advertisements, and other channels to stay at the forefront of your customers’ minds. They are also in charge of educating customers about your company and your products, and they handle offers and promotions.

Sales: The difference between business development and sales is murkier. Some companies even treat the two departments as one team, interchanging the responsibilities of the two.

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Business development and sales operate in separate stages of the same customer journey. BDRs are responsible for top-of-the-funnel activities: finding leads, starting conversations, and educating potential customers. They are in charge of filling the sales pipeline, while sales representatives nurture the pipeline by turning qualified leads into prospects, eventually convincing them to buy.

The Optimal Business Development Strategy

When planning your business development strategy, it helps to think of it as a system with several interconnected parts.

This is because a lot of business development strategies tend to lack clarity and focus. Oftentimes, they’re too complicated and have lost sight of the revenue team’s overarching goal—which is to answer why a potential customer should buy from you instead of the countless other options in the market. The inability to answer this question can lead to useless tactics, poor execution, and confusion for both your revenue team and your clients. 

The story and the purpose of your business should be the cornerstone of your business development strategy. You need to differentiate yourself from the competition. All of your revenue team’s actions should be able to reflect your unique position in the market.

As mentioned above, business development intersects with the other departments in your revenue team. Though the lines are blurry, it’s not really a matter of reassigning certain tasks to the other team. Instead, the affected teams should work together towards the common goal: The company’s continued growth.

Business Development and Marketing

Marketing and business development should work together to tell your organization’s story and strategize how to generate leads. Together, the two teams can help prospects make informed decisions about engaging with you and availing of your company’s services via the following factors:

Your Positioning In The Market: The way your company is positioned in the market defines the backbone of your entire business development plan. It provides a clear blueprint of your target market, effectively acting as a North Star for every business decision you make. 

Customer Traffic: The right amount of traffic and traffic from the right people to solidify your position in the market. Exposure to your company and your core message is required to get results.

Messaging: Your message should be compelling enough to be able to stop people in their tracks when they hear it. Remember: The more you can gain and keep someone’s attention, the more chance you have of landing a new client. 

Channels: Your marketing channels can greatly affect your overall business development and marketing strategy. For example, to establish authority and solidify your position as a thought leader in your market, you’ll need to post insights on social media, speak in events and interviews, and publish original content regularly. 

Business Development and Sales

Your sales process starts with finding the right clients—after all, you can’t close deals when there are no customers to begin with. With this, let’s go back to your company’s position in the market. Your positioning helps dictate the people your business development team will reach out to, filtering out all but the best prospects through a stringent qualification process. 

Now, your sales strategy should support your qualified prospects’ ability to make good decisions—specifically, to sign contracts with you. Inversely, your sales process should also eliminate customers that fail to meet the criteria in your qualification process. Otherwise, you may experience unnecessarily long and unpredictable sales cycles, which could affect your quota attainment. 

Business Development and Product Delivery

Business development doesn’t end when the contract is signed. Before the ink is dry, you should be able to deliver on your promises.

The product delivery experience can create additional value for your customers, opening the door to more opportunities for your business development program. Let’s look at the three main components of the delivery process: your product, your service, and your customer life cycle. 

Product: The product you deliver should speak for itself. It should demonstrate your company’s value to your client, making employees tell their friends and colleagues about how great of a job you’re doing. This increases the chances of getting referrals

Service: The quality, speed, and ease of using your service can likewise boost business development by inspiring referrals. It’s important to fulfill your deliverables, don’t forget to create a good customer experience as well.

Life Cycle: Your customer life cycle is tied directly to your positioning. Telling your brand’s story increases traffic through the right channels, which you can take advantage of by creating a sales process that targets the right people with the right offer. When the contract is signed, you should deliver a product in a way that creates more value for your client and lets them see what else you could help them improve upon, effectively selling more of what they need along the way. 

Conclusion

In the end, there’s no such thing as a perfect business development strategy. Leads can enter your sales funnel in unexpected ways and can be removed from your pipeline just as well. 

By understanding the different components that drive business development, the different departments of your revenue team can work together and adjust your strategy to minimize risk and grow your profitability. 

Categories
b2b sales

How To Identify Your Customers’ Pain Points

Heart disease is the top cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. It accounts for 16% of the global death toll, and the number of its victims keeps rising year on year given the lifestyle we’ve cultivated.

There are ways to decrease your risk of suffering from heart disease, such as adopting a healthy, balanced diet, exercising for at least 2.5 hours per week, and giving up vices such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. These things aren’t that difficult to do. But why isn’t everyone doing them?

It’s because those who aren’t shifting to a healthier lifestyle haven’t experienced the pain of heart disease.

People buy for one main reason: To improve their condition. In the B2B context, this boils down to either helping your customer make more money or helping them mitigate risk.

Whatever the driving force is, the customer is, to a certain degree, dissatisfied with how things are. They know their situation could be better. And the fact that a stakeholder is thinking about shaking up their status quo means that there is a pain point that you, as a seller, could capitalize on.

What are customer pain points?

Pain points are the specific problems or issues that your clients may experience while on their customer journey. Since there could be a lot of problems, it’s important to prioritize which ones really need to be addressed. Think outside the box and put yourself in your customers’ shoes: What could be done to improve the account’s profitability?

As a modern seller, you need to focus on helping and educating your customers rather than selling to them. In the age of digital selling, your customers are bombarded with information and advertisements from all fronts. What will work best is a targeted, personalized approach centered on their agenda—not yours.

Always keep in mind how uncomfortable it could feel to be at the receiving end of a relentless sales pitch. You don’t want to be the pushy kind of seller that people can’t help but avoid. So shift your messaging slightly and focus on your genuine desire to help your buyers. While nobody likes being sold to, everyone likes to be helped out—and if you prove your value to your customers, they’ll be more inclined to purchase your product. 

Identifying Your Customers’ Pain Points

Before you can address your customers’ pain points, you need to identify them first. Your customers could be facing several problems at the same time—which issue should you address first? How can you unlock opportunities within an account by addressing this problem?

1. Social Listening

Social listening is probably the easiest way to reveal a customer’s pain points. Keep your eyes and ears open to see what your current and target buyers are doing online and what they’re saying on social media. You’d be surprised by the amount of valuable information you can from an account’s decision-makers, employees, industry peers, and competitors.

2. Qualitative Market Research

Qualitative research allows sellers to get detailed responses from customers about their buying journey and the problems they face. It’s harder to conduct than quantitative research—you’d need more time and effort to write sentences compared to encircling a number on a scoring system—but it yields better results given the fact that no two pain points are exactly the same. Since qualitative research lets the customers explain their problems in full, you’d be able to see the most common problems and the most serious roadblocks in your transactions.

You need to ask the right questions in order to properly conduct qualitative research. As we’ve said earlier, put yourself in your customer’s shoes and try to visualize what your problems would be. Ask open-ended questions that can help you get to the root of the issue.

3. Your Customer Service Team

A customer’s pain points can change during their buying journey. What might be their most pressing priority while evaluating your purchase might cease to be a problem after signing the contract.

This is when your customer service team comes in.

Your customer service team is on the frontline of your business, fielding calls and complaints from your clients. This makes them crucial sources of information when it comes to fine-tuning your messaging. The key is digging deeper into the problems the customers have presented, distilling them into the simplest possible point. For example, if a customer said that they didn’t purchase again because they weren’t offered a discount, that could be an indicator of a financial pain point—and you could be missing significant opportunities because of this practice.

Conclusion

As we’ve mentioned at the beginning of this blog, people buy to improve their condition—and the fact that they’re thinking about purchasing from you is significant.

One final bit of advice: The next time you have a conversation with your client, try asking them outright why they think you and your company can help them. This can reveal significant information about what differentiates you from your competitors, and how you can improve your messaging.

We hope this helps!

Categories
sales fundamentals

How To Ask For A Sales Referral

Pop quiz: What’s the sales tactic with the highest ROI?

It’s neither email campaigns nor PPC ads. It’s not social media marketing, and it’s definitely not cold calls.

The correct answer is asking for referrals.

Referrals work because people are more likely to purchase products that are endorsed by people whom they actually know and trust. According to a Harvard Business Review article, “ 84% of B2B buyers are now starting the purchasing process with a referral, and peer recommendations are influencing more than 90% of all B2B buying decisions.”

Those are impressive numbers, especially when you take into consideration the declining success rates of cold calling and email marketing. What’s even better is that asking for referrals doesn’t entail spending money.

Why Do People Trust Referrals?

Sales referrals leverage the goodwill between the referred customer and the person making the referral. A referred prospect will be quicker to trust you and your product because they trust the person who referred them to you. And since they are more confident that you can deliver, they will move through the purchasing process faster than cold opportunities.

In fact, according to a 2015 Heinz Marketing survey of over 600 B2B sales and marketing leaders, 69 percent of respondents said that referral leads close faster than non-referral leads, while 71 percent of respondents said that referrals have a higher closing rate compared to leads from other sources.

This probably has to do with buyers’ wariness of traditional sales tactics, which could come off as pushy and self-serving. The shift to social selling—using social media platforms to research leads, prospect, and provide insightful content—allowed sellers to build relationships in a less hard-sell manner, proving their value until customers are ready to purchase.

So why doesn’t it seem like salespeople are using referrals to their advantage?

Perhaps they just don’t know how to ask for referrals properly.

Building Your Sales Referral Strategy

Building Your Sales Referral Strategy

1. Time it right

“Referrals need to be a process as much as prospecting is a process,” says Amar Sheth, Sales for Life’s COO. “It should be done when a customer has crossed a certain lifetime value with you—for instance, customers that have been using your solution for 6 months or 3 months, or whatever term you think is appropriate.”

It’s important that sellers first demonstrate their value before asking a customer for a referral; otherwise, they could come off as self-serving. But at the same time, don’t wait to pounce until it’s too late and the excitement over your product has run out. You need to strike when your happy customers are still buzzing about your product and how great it is.

2. Be precise  

As much as possible, don’t leave it up to the customer to decide whom they’ll introduce you to. 

“Traditionally, B2B salespeople, when they ask for referrals, they’re asking the customer to determine who they should be introduced to,” says Sheth. “That’s actually very dangerous, and it’s not a smart thing because the customer has to now think about it, which means that there’s a high likelihood that this request may not even be fulfilled.”

Use social tools like LinkedIn to check their sphere of influence to see who they’re connected to. This lets you ask for strategic and surgical referrals, allowing you to enter and penetrate accounts of your choice instead of being at your customer’s mercy.

3. Use referral templates

Having templated emails ready allows you to ask for referrals quickly in a polite and professional manner.

Here’s an email template you can use for your customer advocates:

Dear [name of advocate],

I hope you're doing well!

I’m so glad to hear that our [work/service/product] has been working so well for you and your team. I knew that by working together, we’d be able to drive significant impact for [their company].

You’ve been a great advocate for [your company], and I would greatly appreciate if you could recommend us to any/all of the following people:

1. Jamie Shanks from Sales for Life
2. [Name of person you’d like to be introduced to] from [company]
3. [Name of person you’d like to be introduced to] from [company]

I’d love to help them achieve the same results you’ve gotten.

Thank you so much in advance!

Best,
[your name]

Asking for referrals is one of the simplest ways to generate new business. But while referrals have a higher success rate, don’t expect immediate results—these things can take time as your referred prospects might not need your product or service at the moment. Qualify these opportunities carefully.

In the meantime, keep building value, and have your account executives check in with your advocates and prospects to see how they’re doing. And don’t hesitate to ask your advocates if they know anyone who could benefit from your services—you’ll never know unless you ask!

Categories
Account Based Sales Development

Using The Sphere of Influence To Select Your Accounts

When we launched our initial sales training services back in 2012, we were stuck in a basic sales quandary: We had very limited time until we ran out of money, but we had thousands of potential accounts in the Toronto market that we needed to target.

If you were in our shoes, how would you start?

If you’re only familiar with analog sales tactics, you’ll probably create a list of the fastest-growing companies in your target industry or vertical and call them, one by one, to talk about your product or service.

Now, this route wouldn’t take you very far.

Yes, given enough time, you might be able to crack into one of these accounts. And yes, the financial value and brand reputation of these accounts would have been excellent, and they would make a great addition to your company’s portfolio.

But this process is extremely tedious, and chances are you would have run out of money way before you could reach your target.

This all changed when we created the Sphere of Influence account selection process—a much faster way of securing leads.

What is the Sphere of Influence account selection process?

The Sphere of Influence sales play is usually implemented at the first point of engagement with the customer. This sales play aims to humanize the seller by demonstrating the high social proximity shared by the seller and the customer. This sales play reduces the customer’s apprehension of unsolicited engagement, pushing them off their status quo. 

Your company’s Sphere of Influence may include: 

  • The employees who currently work at your customer accounts
  • The previous employees of your customer accounts
  • The competitors of your customer accounts
  • The vendors and partners associated with/supplying your customer accounts. 

Your own personal Sphere of Influence may include: 

  • Your family
  • Your friends
  • Your sports, community and/or religious social network
  • Your previous school alumni 

These are experiences and relationships that your competitors can’t easily replicate. That’s why each of these relationships creates varying degrees of asymmetrical competitive advantages for you.

Starting your Sphere of Influence account selection process

If you are a sales professional, you should first forget about the predetermined named or targeted accounts that you’ve already focused on. While some of your targeted accounts might have been pre-assigned to you for various reasons (as is the case of most sales professionals globally), a portion of the accounts within your territory can be selected at your discretion.

This is where you should apply the Sphere of Influence.

1. Choose an existing customer: Select an existing customer that can present a large opportunity base of new accounts. Here are some examples you can start with: 

  • Accounts with high churn (but great success with your solution) – Key stakeholders that may have used your solution during their time with the existing customer and have since moved on to become directors, vice-presidents, and/or C-level executives in their new companies.
  • Accounts with large partner ecosystems – Brands that are highly recognizable and whose name would easily attract a new buyer’s attention when mentioned in future sales engagements.
  • Accounts that are renowned in their respective fields – When a company has an excellent reputation, especially in highly competitive industries, even the mention of their name will generate engagement.

2. Focus on your advocates who have moved on to new companies: The Sphere of Influence sales play has created more opportunities and revenue for Sales for Life’s customers than any other account selection action. In fact, one study conducted by one of our customers showed that their highest-converting opportunities were their customer referrals, clocking in at 68.7%.

Now, how can you achieve these numbers for your organization?

First, look for your customer’s previous employees using LinkedIn. Focus on those who are in a position of power and have become a potential champion, influencer, or decision-maker at a new account that meets your ICP. Prioritize people who switched companies less than 1 year ago—newly hired key stakeholders are keener to bring change, and might also bring along the people, processes, and/or technology that helped drive success in their past business. 

3. Map your existing accounts, including their competitors, partners, and vendors: The most common sales play you can then do is to identify the competitors of your customer base. You can also identify companies that sell to the same vertical or even buyer persona as your existing customers. While they don’t directly compete with your customer, they compete for mindshare and budgets.

For partners and vendors, look for channel partners, alliances, and vendors of record. These companies know your customer’s name well, and their successes are intertwined.

4. Look at the social proximity of referral candidates: Remember that each of your existing customer accounts is made up of people with high social proximity to like-minded people, who could very well be key stakeholders in other companies that you want to do business with.

Organize the people that have relationships with their customers. If necessary, seek out these relationships yourself. With sales quota attainment on the line, leveraging customer relationships in order to broker sales opportunities will give you an asymmetrical competitive advantage.

Don’t limit your options to only the customer advocates that your team really likes and deals with all the time. Push your team to extend their social proximity range by assigning them to form a 1st-degree LinkedIn connection with champions, influencers, and decision-makers within their target accounts.

5. Determine the accounts and connections with the highest social proximity to your customer base: Your Total Addressable Market (TAM) can increase when you can see the entire social networks of your 1st-degree LinkedIn connections. The ensuing web of connections could be overwhelming, so focus on the first five accounts that an advocate has the highest social proximity to. Perhaps they used to work at that company, or they have family who works there, or they’ve been a vendor or a partner of your advocate for a few years.

High social connections in an account are usually correlated to high social proximity, making this an asymmetrical competitive advantage that will provide you a higher “propensity to buy” score.

Conclusion

The Sphere of Influence concept is the overarching framework that leverages relationships with high social proximity to gain an asymmetrical competitive advantage over your competition. If you already have relationships within your target accounts, it’ll be easier to influence their decision-making process. Their high social proximity to your successes, customers, and advocates will make it easier for them to relate to your stories. 

With the Sphere of Influence sales play, you can develop targeted account lists by using your existing network to gain an asymmetric competitive advantage. This involves thinking outward from a customer-centric core, rather than just using subjective biases such as the potential commission score. The result: A larger customer base, higher conversions, and stronger customer relationships.

Categories
sales pipeline

Signals: The Most Important Puzzle Pieces in Social Selling

Selling isn’t easy. Just ask the 50 percent of sellers who, according to a TOPO study, fail to make quota—83.4 percent of which consider poor time management as the culprit.

The situation’s more dire now, with the pandemic forcing companies to quickly shift to digital sales.

“While a lot of sales organizations took their field sellers and just turned them into BDRs overnight out of the reality of COVID, those people do not have the skills and capabilities to drive sales pipeline,” says Sales for Life CEO Jamie Shanks, who recently guested on Sales Pipeline Radio, the weekly podcast of Heinz Marketing President Matt Heinz.

Listen to the podcast:

Solving this problem isn’t simply a matter of giving sellers more phone numbers to call or assigning them more activities to do. While this makes your team look productive on paper, it doesn’t always translate to actual results.

The answer lies in increasing your sellers’ efficiency, not workload.

Sellers have a basket of several accounts for prospecting, and they have to choose which ones to prioritize and focus their time on. Most sellers would call each one, going through their lists from A through Z or according to their industry or color codes.

Unfortunately, this method results in more losses than wins. You need to have a prospecting strategy that utilizes your sellers’ time and efforts in the most efficient manner.

What Signals Can Do For Your Social Selling Strategy

“[In the span of] over eight years, we ended up certifying a quarter million sellers,” says Shanks. “When you reverse-engineer a quarter million opportunities created, you start to notice a pattern…most of the opportunities created had what’s called a Signal attached to it.”

Signals have three main categories: Buying intent, workload consumption or product usage, and compelling events. The last one, compelling events, is further sorted into three subcategories. There is what we call a relationship roadmap signal, in which an advocate goes from company A to company B. There is the time in maturity event signal, examples of which include raising capital, installing a new executive, or increasing a department’s headcount. 

Finally, there’s competitive intelligence, which can reveal yellow flags and red flags that can pose a risk to your target or customer accounts. A buying committee member showing a preference for a competitor’s product or service, or a newly hired employee who previously worked for a rival company—these are examples of competitive intelligence that can affect your accounts.

When utilized properly, these Signals can make your prospecting process efficient, positively impacting your social selling strategy. But how can Signals be gathered in the first place?

How to Use Signals In Prospecting

The cornerstone of effective social selling is efficient, effective prospecting. This isn’t just a matter of identifying companies and employees that are more likely to yield sales opportunities. Areas of risk—the asymmetrical advantages your competitors possess—should also be taken into consideration and, if possible, mitigated. You also need to consider the conversations you are having and the timing of your outreach efforts—why are you contacting this lead today instead of last week or next week? 

“A lot of this data can be found in tools like LinkedIn, and there are other tools like BuiltWith [that give] sellers in the public domain the information to make informed decisions,” says Shanks.

“It’s a mindset shift, of course, but it’s the process of mining that intelligence that aids the seller in account selection and prioritization.”

Think of buying intent signals as puzzle pieces that can help a seller segment their accounts based on order of operations. 

“If I’m going to look at 50 accounts and figure out which are the five I should really be focusing on, who are the ones that are raising their hand, are Googling the right words, or have people interested in what we’re saying?” asks Shanks.

The real challenge lies in convincing the individual members of the organization’s buying committee. That’s why buying intent intelligence needs to be complemented by compelling event intelligence, which function as puzzle pieces that tell the seller where they should spend their time based on the macro and micro things happening to the people within that business.

These events should be monitored because they indicate changing priorities in that business, and changing priorities are typically tied to human capital. After all, people are the ones who set priorities. People bring priorities with them into a new business and, conversely, they take priorities with them when they leave.

How an organization grows departments and deploys capital is a leading indicator of where their business priorities lie—like if a company’s marketing department’s headcount is doubled, then we can infer that they want to strengthen their marketing efforts.

The Secret To An Asymmetric Advantage

Always keep in mind that an organization’s priorities affect its buying decisions. Knowing the motivations behind a company’s business moves and making them the rationale behind your sales plays will give you an asymmetric advantage over your competitors. Detecting the buying signals reflected in the digital world gives your sellers ample time to plan their sales moves well in advance, increasing their chances of closing a deal.

Not utilizing signals for your sellers would be akin to sending them to war unarmed. Even the best sellers would need sales intelligence to support and effectively close their deals. With sales intelligence and signals, your revenue team will be in the best position to succeed in social selling.

Categories
Uncategorized

6 Ways to Keep Your Sales Pipeline Full

Keeping your sales pipeline full seems to get more challenging with each passing year.

Quotas keep rising, but the number of people you can sell to seems to be decreasing.

How are salespeople supposed to hit their targets this way?

One of the leading causes of this problem is a lack of prospects. Think of it this way: When there aren’t enough leads at the top of your sales funnel, you would eventually be left with zero opportunities to close deals.

Unfortunately, most sales methodologies begin at a point where there are already prospects that you can convert. The focus more often than not is on closing, not on prospecting. 

But if you don’t have any prospects, you can’t close any deals.

That’s why building a strong sales pipeline is important.

What is a sales pipeline?

The sales pipeline is a visual representation of all the stages of your sales process, from your first interaction with a lead or a contact all the way to capturing a sale. It shows your selling performance at a glance, allowing you to easily see which activities and strategies are working and which ones need more work.

Now here’s the tricky part: There isn’t one foolproof, tried-and-tested way to build pipeline. Since sales pipelines vary from business to business, different sales organizations tend to have their own unique processes and rules for pipeline creation. At times, it even varies per member of the sales team.

The lack of standardization in pipeline creation poses several risks, such as:

  • Difficulty identifying specific areas for improvement
  • Less accurate sales outcomes
  • More good leads getting stuck in dead zones

That’s why salespeople who can create, maintain, and improve pipelines will have a higher chance of thriving in today’s cutthroat world. 

How to Keep Your Sales Pipeline Full

Having plenty of sales opportunities prevents you from relying on bad sales practices that could harm your bottom line, such as offering discounts or guilting prospects. A full sales pipeline allows you to confidently set the price your product deserves, knowing that there are plenty of other opportunities you can fall back on. This results in a larger average deal size, more referrals, and positive feedback.

1. Always be prospecting

Spend time every day to look for new leads on LinkedIn, look for buying triggers in the news, and reach out to new prospects via email and phone.

Your prospecting efforts need to be consistent. You see, if you let yourself take a day off one time, you’ll be tempted to do it again a week later, and then the week after that.

And before you know it, you won’t have new leads in your pipeline anymore.

Try blocking some time on your calendar, setting an alarm on your phone, asking another salesperson on your team to keep you accountable, or writing “prospecting” on your daily to-do list. Force yourself to prospect daily—whatever it takes to make it a habit.

2. Upsell and cross-sell.

Sure, working non-stop to attract new customers is exciting. However, if you want to increase revenue without ramping up your lead generation efforts, upselling to existing customers is key.

You see, with new customers, you need to establish trust before they’ll even listen to you, let alone buy your product.

In comparison, your existing customers already trust you. Since they already purchased from you before, they’re much more likely to buy from you again—provided they’re happy with your service.

It’s also a lot cheaper to sell to existing customers than to new ones. According to the 2016 Pacific Crest SaaS Survey, the median Customer Acquisition Cost for upsells is just $0.28 per $1. This is a bargain compared to the $1.18 spent to acquire $1 of revenue from a new customer.

So take the time to regularly check in with your existing customers. Keep providing them with value and identify win-win opportunities to upsell them.

3. Incorporate social selling.

Social selling is necessary to survive and thrive in today’s modern, digital sales environment. The sooner you embrace this, the faster you will meet quotas, grow your pipeline, maximize your profitability, and elevate your team’s skills.

The SPEAR Selling strategy is an effective way to fill your sales pipeline and prospect more efficiently. First, a seller needs to be accountable for their own territory by visualizing their Total Addressable Market (TAM). This allows them to see clearly where gaps and opportunities lie, and they can apply signal intelligence against accounts in their TAM so they can objectively Select and Prioritize the most promising prospects using data-based Signals.

From there, the seller moves on to Planning—developing executive business plans for the top accounts. Engagement starts after, powered by synchronous and asynchronous video.

Next, the seller Activates customers by applying the signal intelligence and the stories they have created against their accounts. The seller should gauge the customers’ feedback—also known as buying intent—before moving to the Reprioritize phase. In this last stage, the seller will redevelop their TAM based on all the data they have gleaned.

4. Ask for referrals.

Your current customers are the best source of your next customers. They believe in your value proposition; if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have bought your product.

So once a customer has crossed a certain lifetime value with you, ask them to refer you to someone in their sphere of influence who can use your product.

“Traditionally, when B2B salespeople ask for referrals, they would ask the customer to determine who they should be introduced to,” says Amar Sheth, Sales for Life’s COO. “That’s actually very dangerous. It’s not a smart thing because the customer now has to think about it, which means that there’s a high likelihood that this request may not even be fulfilled.

The best way to go about it, Sheth continues, is to aim for an introduction to a specific person.

“if you could find out who they’re connected to using the power of social media, then you can ask for strategic referrals,” he says. “Using tools like LinkedIn, you can determine who they’re connected to and ask for a strategic and precise referral. This way, you can enter accounts of your choice, not just the choice of the customer.”

5. Know your top customers and focus on them.

a. Grow deeper in existing accounts

In time, you’ll observe that your team closes more deals with companies from a certain industry. For example, if you close six times more deals with mining corporations than food companies, then it makes sense to focus on mining corporations. 

The same logic applies with roles within a company. If historical data says you’re more likely to win a deal when you work with the research team versus the culture team, you should get an introduction to a research team member ASAP.

b. Focus on account retention

Account retention entails building relationships with your customers and maximizing revenue from every single one of them. But it’s not a one-way street: You have to provide more value to your existing customer base as well.

Your sellers should ensure that the customers they have acquired will have a great experience with your company and will stay satisfied with your products and services. Some strategies include improving customer support, offering discounted renewal rates, and rolling out multi-channel engagement campaigns for existing clients.

6. Automate as many processes as possible.

The simpler and easier prospecting is, the less you’ll dread doing it—and the more efficient you’ll be.

There are several CRM tools that you can use to make sales pipeline management easier. You should set reminders and create automated emails to reach out to prospects. Always try to move them further along the pipeline, even after the deal goes cold. Automation lets you focus on warm leads while keeping an eye on cold ones, as well as prospects with longer buying cycles.

Conclusion

Creating and maintaining your sales pipeline isn’t an overnight affair. You have to take good care of properly plotting your pipeline in a customer-centric manner, and this is a process that could require a lot of trial and error. But the result will always be worth it.

Above all, you should never stop prospecting.

A lot of people only prospect at the start of the sales cycle, and that’s not a good strategy. As a seller, you should always find ways to drive new business, no matter where you are in the customer life cycle. You need to be intentional about it, and all your actions should be centered around the creation of new opportunities.

Remember: Building sales pipeline for the sake of building pipeline is meaningless unless you understand what you need to achieve by what date as milestones to get you to your goal. You need to be pointed about the actions and activities—the only things that you control—you should do to achieve that goal.

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Blog Sales Advice

7 Lessons for Millennials Who Are Afraid of Cold Calling

There are few things more intimidating than phoning a total stranger, interrupting their very busy day to sell them something. We’ve all been on the other side of those calls, so you know how annoying it can be to get a call from a number you don’t recognize, only for the stranger on the other side of the line to sell you something you neither want nor need.