This Week’s Big Deal: Plugging Leaks in the B2B Sales Funnel
June 10, 2019
An empty sales funnel is a relatively straightforward (albeit not necessarily easy) problem to solve: enhance your prospecting efforts to produce more qualified leads.
A leaky sales funnel is another beast entirely. When we’re driving sufficient leads, but too few are reaching the finish line, the causes aren’t always obvious. This can lead to wasted prospecting efforts, seller frustration, and organizational discord.
So let’s examine the most common reasons your pipeline might be failing to convert at the expected rate, and see how to fix the leaks.
Tips for Fixing a Leaky B2B Sales Funnel
With help from recent trending content around the web, here’s a rundown of some common B2B sales funnel flaws and how you can address them.
Create and Follow a Plan
Last week, we published a guest post from Mike Schultz of RAIN Group on developing an action plan for sales success. Oftentimes, gaps and disconnects in pipeline management emerge from a lack of comprehensive planning, documentation, and strategic oversight. So in many cases the solution is to simply take a step back and look at the big picture.
Schultz writes that in order to reach your destination, “you need to be very specific about what it is you want to achieve in the long-term and short-term.” He offers up a four-part framework:
- Set short-term priorities
- Create weekly to-do lists
- Write down your greatest impact activity each day
- Share your actions
In other words, don’t search for the quick fix. Break down the problem (and its solution) in granular fashion, then plot out steps you can take on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to resolve it.
Sync Up with Marketing
In a recent survey of senior B2B marketing professionals, only 27% said they’ve been able to successfully align their marketing plans with their company’s sales strategy and targets. That’s a big missed opportunity.
Misalignment between sales and marketing can easily take a toll on the sales funnel, causing prospects to drop off along the way due to inconsistent messaging, lack of brand awareness, unqualified leads, ill-suited content, and more. There’s no need to play the blame game. Just work together.
If you’re interested in finding a diverse range of viewpoints on the subject, we recently asked 13 sales influencers for their thoughts on this evolving relationship.
Level Up Your Prospect Nurturing
This relates to the previous item, because marketing plays a pivotal role in nurturing prospects, but it shouldn’t be left entirely in their domain. Sales reps can make a major difference here by building relationships and strengthening trust through ongoing interactions.
In a piece last week at Business 2 Community, Josh Bean pointed out that it takes the average customer “84 days to go from the awareness phase through to the consideration phase of the B2B sales funnel.” That’s a long time where a lot of things can potentially go wrong, especially if you fall out of touch or fail to keep tabs on what’s happening with the contact and the account.
Reach out when there’s a prompt (job change, accomplishment, relevant content share, etc.). Orchestrate your efforts with marketing to continually provide value throughout the buyer journey. Stay in touch after the sale and to drive new leads via referral, which tend to convert at a much higher rate.
Cleanse Your Data
At MediaPost, Ray Schultz calls out another prominent cause in B2B companies losing customers: dirty data. Although he’s talking specifically about email lists, it’s a larger issue that can affect every element of the sales operation.
Do you have up-to-date, accurate information about the roles, needs, and priorities of each prospect in your pipeline? Are you keeping detailed logs of interactions and touchpoints? Have you synced Sales Navigator with your CRM? All of these actions can help ensure your data is clean and consistent.
Reach the Whole Buying Committee
Missing key players is a frequent factor in deals going dark, so it’s essential to map out the whole committee and establish a deeper presence. We recently went into detail on the challenges of selling to large buying committees, and how to overcome them.
Keep Your Sales Pipeline Flowing
With so much widespread focus on generating pipeline and leads, it can be all too easy to overlook the vital undertaking that comes after: nurturing and converting. Whatever leaks might exist in this critical stage — poor planning, lack of alignment, ineffective nurturing, dirty data, or gaps in buying committee coverage — it’s important to identify them and proactively address them.
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