Unlock pipeline: 10 tips for marketing leaders to ignite growth
Your marketing team holds the key to the number of prospects entering your sales pipeline. That’s why you’re no doubt already focused on increasing the quantity and quality of those prospects to grow your sales pipeline.
But marketing input shouldn’t stop when a prospect is delivered to your sales team as an MQL (marketing qualified lead). You can continue to have impact right through to closing the deal and beyond.
In this article, we take a closer look at not just how to grow your sales pipeline and unlock its potential, beginning with mastering the art of strategic marketing to effectively grow pipeline and drive growth.
What is a marketing sales pipeline?
A sales pipeline is a visual representation of your prospects and where they are in the purchasing process, tracking them from prospect to customer.
It’s usually broken down into six stages:
Prospecting: Identifying potential buyers as MQLs.
Lead qualification: Evaluating how well prospects fit your customer profile to identify sales qualified leads (SQLs).
Contact: The sales team making contact and meeting with SQLs to discuss solutions and demo products.
Proposal: Making an offer or pitching a product or service.
Negotiation/pricing: Price discussions, offering deals or add-ons, and responding to objections.
Closing the deal: Making the sale or marking it as a closed-lost opportunity.
The more prospects you have entering the sales pipeline, the more deals will be successfully closed at the other end. However, a grow pipeline strategy is not just a question of numbers. The quality of the prospects entering the sales pipeline is also key, as is clarity about which prospects might be of higher value, close faster, and be retained longer.
How to create and grow pipeline
The first step in creating a sales pipeline is determining who your target customers are. This usually involves market research and customer segmentation, understanding needs and pain points, and developing ideal buyer profiles.
Once you’ve done that, how do you effectively grow your sales pipeline and ensure you’re moving prospects through the funnel as quickly and efficiently as possible?
10 top tips for marketing leaders
Here are our 10 top tips to grow your sales pipeline and keep it moving for maximum growth:
1. Improve communication between teams
The number one way to grow your sales pipeline is to streamline communication between your sales and marketing teams.
Seamless collaboration between both teams means marketing activity can be better targeted to provide sales with the exact information they need to engage effectively with potential customers at every stage of the sales pipeline.
By working more closely together, you can align your goals and objectives to create a more coordinated approach, specifically when it comes to lead qualification and scoring criteria.
2. Qualify your leads
A successful grow pipeline strategy focuses as much on qualifying leads as it does on generating them. Work closely with your sales teams to implement a scoring system that identifies high-quality leads and prioritizes them for faster progression through the pipeline.
When marketing and sales teams are 100% aligned on what a qualified lead looks like, the result is a bigger and faster moving pipeline.
3. Prioritize lead nurturing
A lead nurture program that keeps prospects engaged and informed also keeps them moving down the pipeline. Depending on the potential value of the prospect, this could be anything from a personal invitation to a high-profile event, to regular email newsletters for their buying team.
Marketing and sales teams must work closely together to ensure that communications feel coordinated, timely, and appropriate to where the prospect is in the purchasing process.
4. Align your content
It’s critical there’s no friction points as prospects move down the pipeline. Your marketing content must be based on the prospect’s needs and be delivered consistently across all channels.
Engage your prospects on an emotional level with content that’s specific to where they are in the pipeline and deliver it in an engaging and timely way.
5. Automate and streamline
Automation is important for building relationships with prospects. This is particularly true when you may have hundreds or even thousands of prospects at the start of your pipeline.
Schedule regular communications across your channels, designed to answer common questions, establish your brand authority, and use dynamic calls to action. This will help drive more qualified leads towards purchasing decisions.
6. Leverage personalization
At every prospect touchpoint, make sure you’re engaging them with highly personalized and tailored content. This means following up contacts directly and by name, sending product information based on their specific needs and stated interests, and deepening engagement with targeted offers and deals.
7. Refine your data analysis
Conduct regular sales pipeline analysis to make sure it’s flowing at every stage. Good data analysis means you can drop leads if they’re no longer moving and focus on prospects that are show most promise.
Keep an eye on pipeline metrics such as total number of deals and at which stage, average contract value, total pipeline value, pipeline velocity, and response times.
8. Establish a feedback loop
Sales and marketing teams need to work closely at all stages of the pipeline, not just the start. This means establishing a feedback loop for sharing insights, successes, and areas for improvement.
9. Take a customer-centric approach
Always focus on what your customers need, their pain points, and their preferences. This could be in the form of an in-depth interview or a request for a satisfaction rating.
However you choose to gather customer insight, apply your knowledge to improve and refine future engagement.
10. Don’t stop when the deal is closed
Once the deal is sealed, make sure your sales and marketing teams move to focus on a coordinated approach to retention, upselling, and cross-selling.
Prepare for an increase in pipeline
A well-managed pipeline can grow fast, and its profile can change quickly. To ensure your growing pipeline remains effective, you need to continually monitor the performance of key metrics and be alert to bottlenecks.
ABM (account-based marketing) strategies, and CRM (customer relationship management) and sales pipeline software can help, keeping everything in order and up to date.
Using email signature management to ignite growth
One key area of your how to grow sales pipeline strategy and where your marketing team can unlock powerful growth with minimal effort is through centralized email signature management.
Targeted messaging delivered through your organization’s email signatures is vital at the start of the prospecting process, helping to identify MQLs, and keeping leads warm with every communication sent.
Throughout the subsequent lead qualification process, proposal, and negotiation stages, all communications between prospects and sales teams can be carefully managed to include highly targeted messaging within every email signature. This might include specific calls to action, tailored offers and deals, and product information relevant to a particular prospect.
Working together, sales and marketing teams can radically grow their sales pipeline, increase the total number of prospects, improve the quality of leads, track their progress, clear bottlenecks, and nurture leads to close out those high-value deals.
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