We developed a Three-Part Formula to a Healthy Sales Pipeline to increase predictability with a structure and process based on personal experience, research, and experience with our clients to create more new opportunities. The three parts of the formula are:

  • Foundational Elements
  • New Opportunity Process Buckets
  • Accelerate for Success

In an academic setting one might apply this formula by learning them in sequence, but in the real-world applications with clients we learned it is best to go about things in a different way to maximize personal growth and increase involvement in the process as well as identify the most significant opportunities.

In this article, we will provide you a road map on how to implement the Three-Part Formula to a Healthy Sales Pipeline with your team. In future articles we will address each part individually.

First, review the New Opportunity Process Buckets and prioritize them for your business. We found that small B2B businesses can group their prospecting and lead generation activities into five new opportunity process buckets. We call them:

  1. Customer Success/Grow Existing Clients
  2. Intentional Networking/Referrals
  3. Multi-touch, Multi-channel Targeted Sales Outreach
  4. Speaking about Thought Leadership
  5. Build and leverage an Inbound marketing engine

Let’s look at two potential situations:

  • Your business is stuck on a plateau, struggling to grow to the next level
  • You are a startup seeking your first clients

 

Stuck on a Plateau

We started our business to help small B2B businesses break through that plateau that they are stuck on, so we are familiar with this situation. While no two situations are exactly alike, many small B2B businesses that are stuck on a plateau are best served by working the new opportunity process buckets in this manner:

  1. Customer Success/Grow Existing Clients

Being stuck on a plateau, you have existing clients with strong relationships. What are you doing to make them raving fans of you and your business? Build fans out of your clients by knowing what is important to them. Focus on their success and where they want to contribute. Then apply the 80/20 rule as you seek to grow your existing client business with cross-selling and up-selling of products and services.

  1. Intentional Networking/Referrals

Being stuck on a plateau means you have been in business for a while. You probably have a network of people in your industry to go along with that fan base of customers. Do you know what expertise they have to offer and what knowledge and skills they have mastered? This bucket focuses on customer referrals and two types of Intentional Networking. They are:

  • Strategic centers of influence.
    • This is your inner circle of networking partners, the best of your networking contacts.
  • Our Linked Networking Process.
    • This process helps identify your best first connections related to your second connection prospects.

I think most people know that referrals from fanatical existing and former clients are the best leads one can get. Seek to understand what they find most valuable in what you offer, research what systems or processes they see as making the greatest contribution to their learning.

We start with those two buckets to optimize your most fertile business opportunities to gain the quickest hits you can find. Now it is time to build for the long term.

  1. Build and Leverage an Inbound Marketing Engine

It is time to build an engine to establish relationships and get more prospects to raise their hand and seek you out. These prospects will demonstrate some level of need you need to understand and demonstrate you have the expertise to meet. It will be your job to qualify them for fit while you gain more new clients. This process does not happen overnight. Some people claim that it takes six to nine months for Inbound Marketing to work. For some, it may take longer yet, while it might happen more quickly for others. Paid Ads can speed the process up. But what if Paid Ads is not in your small B2B business budget? Regardless, the longer you wait, the longer it will take your Inbound Marketing program to bear fruit.

  1. Multi-touch, Multi-channel Targeted Sales Outreach

It is time to get to work on a focused, targeted sales outreach. Here it is critical to identify the right target, have the right message, make the most of multiple channels, especially the phone, and have the right people! When done right, this process can be effective. Hire and train the right people with a focus on self-mastery and learning to gain confidence and make sure they pick up the phone!

  1. Speaking about Thought Leadership

If you are a dynamic speaker with a large following already, you can move this bucket up to number three. Remember this question, “If a tree falls in a forest, but no one is there, did it make any noise?” Speaking about thought leadership without an audience can be similar. There is one difference:  recordings of your speaking events can live forever. This bucket focuses on using podcasts, webinars, public speaking, and events to demonstrate your thought leadership and let your audience know you and can build or enhance your reputation. Utilizing various technology and resources to expand your reach can multiply the reach to the community you seek. In most situations, it helps to first start building your Inbound Marketing database as you develop this bucket. The better the audience, the bigger the payback.

 

What about the startup?  Here is our recommended prioritization for most startups.

Startups

  1. Intentional Networking/Referrals

Use your network the best you can with focus on strong, stable relationships.

  1. Build and Leverage an Inbound Marketing Engine

While this process takes a while. The sooner you start developing and implementing a structured process, the sooner it starts working for you.

  1. Speaking about Thought Leadership

You are new. You probably have something new. Start talking about it now to build credibility and a community.

  1. Multi-touch, Multi-channel Targeted Sales Outreach

Now it’s time to work that focused, targeted list of prospects with a refined message on multiple channels, especially the phone. Identifying the most significant opportunities that will contribute to stable growth is the goal here.

  1. Customer Success/Grow Existing Clients

As you gain customers building authentic relationships, help make them successful and fans of your business while making them part of your team and community and grow together.

 

This is a roadmap on how to apply the Three-Part Formula to a Healthy Sales Pipeline. Click here to learn more about the formula. In future articles, we will discuss each part of the formula individually.

Want a guide to help you through the formula?  Schedule a 30-minute discovery session.