How To Align Your B2B Prospecting Strategy with Sales Pipeline Stages
July 18, 2019
How many best practices, methodologies, or “groundbreaking” new sales approaches find their way into your feed each week? The world of B2B sales is full of content touting the next best thing in sales — be it mastering your pipeline, understanding the sales funnel, or improving the buyer journey. It can be overwhelming to try and make sense of it all.
Amid this dizzying barrage of info and insight, I find it helpful to simplify by thinking about B2B prospecting strategy in terms of sales pipeline stages. This mindset enables sellers to meet buyers where they are at, customizing approaches situationally. Ultimately, this will benefit every element of your operation.
How to Align Your B2B Prospecting Strategy with Sales Pipeline Stages
Sales pipeline stages define the actions taking place at each level of the sales funnel. As a modern B2B sales leader, focusing on pipeline management is essential. Companies that master pipeline management see 28% higher revenue growth than those that don’t. And, sales managers who regularly discuss pipeline management with their reps see 11% higher revenue averages.
“When sales managers add scheduled, in-depth, one-on-one discussions about early-stage deals to their regular pipeline scrubs, team performance improves remarkably,” says Michelle Vazzana, CEO of Vantage Point Performance, in a recent post for Selling Power Blog. Any way you cut it, understanding each stage of your sales pipeline helps you build revenue and gain efficiency.
If the stages of the sales pipeline are still a bit hazy from your point of view, read on to learn how you can better align your prospecting strategy accordingly.
Gain Visibility with Your Audience
The first of the sales pipeline stages is lead generation, a top-of-funnel function. Knowing what you want from your lead-generation efforts is important, because it informs the strategy used to accomplish your prospecting goals. To gain visibility among your audience and begin establishing relationships with key members, connect with prospective leads and regularly share valuable, relevant content.
Connect with Prospects
Connecting with a potential buyer early gives you the chance to build trust and help guide their buying journey all the way to a deal. LinkedIn’s Advanced Search allows you to filter individuals by name, title, company, location, and more, so you can find buyers in your industry and region more quickly.
Meanwhile, LinkedIn Sales Navigator keeps you up-to-speed on what’s happening in your network, extended network, and groups, providing insight into how you can generate more leads and advance them through the sales cycle. Sales Navigator helps you uncover potential selling opportunities and provides the data you need to leverage those opportunities.
Share Relevant Content
Once you’ve connected with a prospect, the last thing you want to do is bombard them with sales messages. Instead, post and share relevant content — such as industry news, trends, or debates — on a regular basis, so that your audience begins to view you as a knowledgeable authority within your industry.
We know that buyers want content that’s easy to access, so you can leverage PointDrive to package and share your sales content with audience members in a format that doesn’t require download, and looks good on any device. You can also track who views and engages with your content via PointDrive, giving you greater insight into who may be ready for a sales conversation.
Qualify Your Leads
With a pool of potential buyers in mind, it’s time to begin qualifying these leads. Start by reviewing their LinkedIn profiles and visible activities. What groups do they actively engage with? Do they express a particular need or pain point? Are there recurring themes in the content they share? Answers to these questions will provide insight into the type of resources and talking points that may resonate, as well as how you might be able to meet their needs.
If it turns out your prospect isn’t a quality lead, that’s OK, too. Not everyone who turns up in your Advanced Search results will be a fit. In these cases it can still be useful to build a relationship because that person might develop a need later, or they might be able to connect you to others.
Nurture Relationships to Build Trust
The second stage of the sales pipeline is lead nurturing, which happens both at the middle and bottom of the sales funnel. Once you’ve gathered leads, begin nurturing those relationships by engaging with your prospects’ content, just as you want them to engage with yours.
Make yourself known by joining the conversation. Comment on your prospects’ posts and offer solutions in a way that feels genuine, not forced. Or, reach out one-on-one via InMail. You can leverage Sales Navigator to detect timing triggers that will help you reach out at the right time to offer value.
When a prospect switches roles, is mentioned in the news, or engages with a piece of your content, take it as a welcome invitation to start a conversation. The more helpful you can be, the more you’ll be viewed as an advocate with their interests in mind. That’s how trust is established and solidified.
Stay in Touch (Even After the Sale)
Nurturing customer relationships all the way through the end of a deal and after is just as important as earlier sales pipeline stages. To maintain an ongoing relationship with your buyer, continue engaging with their content and checking in occasionally (birthdays, work anniversaries, and promotions are prime opportunities). Doing so will help you preserve a customer’s trust, making them more inclined to buy from you again in the future (and refer others).
Align with Sales Pipeline Stages to Target the Right Buyers and Increase Deal Velocity
Throughout each of the sales pipeline stages, your sales and marketing teams should work to align their messaging and create content that resonates in context. It’s up to you to share that content in order to gain visibility from your B2B buyer at every step of the sales process.
With an understanding of what takes place at each stage of the sales pipeline, you can begin to improve your prospecting strategy so that the two are in alignment. From there, nothing can hold you back from gaining more leads and winning more deals.
For more tips on engaging prospects throughout the sales pipeline, subscribe to the LinkedIn Sales Blog.