Sales processes continue to shift, change and evolve as the digital landscape continues to develop. The entire customer journey has been forever altered thanks to search engines, social media and information accessibility. Today, sales processes are more organic and personalised, and need to be more accurate and on point than ever before.
Today, Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM) has taken center stage when it comes to sales because this technology allows marketers and salespeople to examine, track and measure leads and the sales pipeline in greater detail than ever before. When it comes to the B2B sales pipeline, CRM’s are able to provide much needed insight into targeted key accounts, nurture relationships with these prospects and help salespeople drive the buyer's journey without being pushy about it.
In the past, the sales pipeline was difficult to manage, lacked detailed lead information and was time consuming on salespeople - which in turn, impacted their sales growth.
The sales pipeline of the past was overly simple and consisted of:
- Lead generation
- Scheduled meeting or call
- Request a quote (or something similar that indicated a prospect may be interested)
- Proposal sent
- Closed-lost or closed-won
That was it.
Today, the sales pipeline is vastly different and thanks to CRMs, analytics and measurement tools, the B2B sales pipeline offers greater data, provides important insights and helps with performance and business growth.
The B2B Sales Pipeline Today
Identify Lead Type
You may know who your ideal clients are, but you can now track their buying cycle in greater detail and identify when they are ready to become a client.
- Suspect Company: A lead that fits into your client profile and would have the potential to become a client.
- Prospect: A contact or decision maker at the suspect company that may be searching for your services.
- Lead: A prospect that has taken a specific action and shown a certain level of interest in your offering. There are a variety of leads within the pipeline:
- Inbound leads: A lead that converts via your digital platforms such as your website or social media platforms.
- Marketing Qualified Leads: Leads who require nurturing through content, email campaigns, newsletters etc.
- Sales Qualified Leads: These leads display certain behaviours that require a sales follow up - be it an email or a call.
- Closed Leads: Previous customers
- Ghosted Leads: Opportunities that have gone cold.
A CRM platform is able to reach your leads through digital marketing tactics, acquire lead information through lead forms, store all your leads in a single place, where they can be segmented based on where they are at within the buying cycle. Ensuring that sales teams and marketers are aware of what kind of engagement these leads require.
Connect with Leads
Once you have segmented your leads, it is time to connect with them. A connect call is made and is when a salesperson introduces the offering and engages with the lead to understand what they require and how the offering can fix their problem or add value to their business. This call is not a typical sales call, it is used to gain important information and figure out what the lead requires.
This kind of call helps salespeople direct a lead through the sales pipeline, but this is not pushed on to the lead. Rather, at this stage, the salesperson tries to gain greater understanding of the lead in order to know where they are within the sales pipeline.
Once you have engaged with a lead, the next step is to make what is known as a “discovery call.” This is when you gain even greater insight into what the client requires and the perfect time to discuss their objectives and goals. Once you understand what they need, you are able to figure out if you can assist them and deliver on what they expect.
Thanks to the discovery call, you are able to identify opportunities and this leads you into the opportunity stage of the pipeline. And this is the time to begin forming a deal or proposal. Once you chat to the lead in greater detail and tell them why they should buy from you, you will be able to determine whether you can close the deal.
Put Together a Demo
When it comes to B2B sales, leads usually request to see your offering in action so they can understand what it is you do, and how you can add value to their business. This can be done by presenting them with a case-study, taking them through your processes, or showing them your product/service in action.
At this stage the lead may not want to continue with your business, or shows greater interest in your offering.
Now that the lead understands the value your business can bring, you will set up a time to meet with the decision maker of the company. This is known as the “influencer buy-in.” Without the company’s decision maker signing off on your offering, you will not be able to close a deal - so this stage is vital.
Once the decision maker buys-in to your offering, you are able to move on to the negotiation stage.
At this point, the final price and terms are being discussed and agreed upon between your team and the company’s legal team or decision maker. During the negotiation page it is important to continue to nurture your relationship with the key account, follow up, and keep your business top of mind.
Closed-lost or Closed-won
If the prospect has signed the dotted line - you have a closed-won and can continue to the onboarding process. On the opposite end, if the prospect declines your offer, you can mark them off as a closed-lost lead.
When it comes to B2B sales, you need to track every step of the sales pipeline in great detail. This can be done through CRM solutions such as HubSpot Sales Hub. This kind of insight helps you understand your target market in greater detail, allows your team to identify warm leads, and in turn, leads to greater sales and business growth.
Does your business want to put together a powerful B2B sales strategy?
If so, we can help. Nexa has been generating highly qualified sales leads for businesses of all types for almost a decade. We have both the experience and track record to help businesses in all industries generate highly qualified sales leads.