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Is Your Sales Pipeline Running on Fumes?
19 Jul 2019
Listen, we need to talk about your pipeline. You’re not really getting the bullseye clients that you’d like at the top-end and the traffic to your website has been going down month-on-month. Sometimes you may go weeks without generating a single qualified lead.
When faced with a weak pipeline, most B2B firms will focus on top of funnel activity and ignore the middle of the funnel. Putting more time and resources into attracting visitors to your website may seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re not effectively converting that traffic, you’re essentially losing money.
You may see an increase in conversions, but your conversion rates will most likely plummet. Why? Because you’re applying brute force to a situation that needs a little more finesse.
Don’t settle for a pipeline that only works half the time. You deserve a pipeline that’s perfect. A pipeline that generates a positive return on investment.
If you’re getting confused by our use of the terms pipeline and funnel, we owe you a little clarification:
Pipelines & Funnels: What’s the Difference?
Within business, the terms sales pipelines and funnels are often used interchangeably, but we’re going to make one key distinction here:
- When we talk about your funnel, we’re specifically talking about your marketing funnel; the journey that a potential prospect makes, from awareness all the way through to conversion (typically the first point of contact).
- When we talk about your pipeline, we’re referring to your sales pipeline; the process of progressing a lead, from the initial point of contact all the way through to the final sale, and more specifically how you facilitate that movement.
Your funnel is essentially one way of feeding fresh qualified leads into your pipeline. It generally won’t be the only method, but if employed correctly, it should be one of the most effective.
At the simplest level, a healthy sales pipeline is entirely dependent on the alignment of your sales and marketing teams.
A healthy pipeline depends on the alignment of sales and marketing.
What does a perfect pipeline look like?
The perfect pipeline is one with constant progression and little to no attrition: qualified leads arrive from your funnel at the top, progressing smoothly until both you and your new client are happy to close the deal.
In an ideal pipeline, your prospects have arrived knowing exactly who you are, what you do and why they want to work with you. Meeting each of these objectives in your funnel means you have less selling to do at the lower end of your pipeline.
On the other hand...
What does an inefficient pipeline look like?
It can often be difficult to admit when your pipeline is performing ineffectively. It might be easy to overlook a dodgy pipeline if you’re still receiving leads from referrals, networking and other offline sources... but this ignores a rather significant issue.
Yes, you may still be receiving some promising leads, but the absence of qualified funnel-fed leads indicates either a loss in investment, lost opportunities, or both.
A 2015 study showed that almost half of B2B executives felt that their company’s pipeline was ineffective.
What are some telltale signs that your funnel is running on fumes?
- High traffic, but low conversions: The top of your funnel may appear healthy, but your site’s traffic is either irrelevant or not being passed down the funnel effectively.
- Your tracking isn’t up to scratch: You have no idea where website visitors are coming from, or when they’re converting. Without clean data, you’re essentially flying blind.
- Your contact forms are being abandoned: You’re almost there, but you’ve fallen short in selling yourself along the way. Are you using remarketing to follow up?
- You’re getting the wrong type of leads: The majority of leads coming through your website are wrong for your business. Do you communicate your niche effectively?
How do pipeline processes fail?
- Your lead nurturing and follow-up aren’t up to scratch: You’re missing deadlines and come across as disinterested due to delays in follow-up.
- Previous clients never generate new referral leads: Satisfied client referrals are invaluable for generating leads. Are you capitalising on this?
- You’re expending effort trying to get the wrong leads: Without an effective pipeline strategy, you’re mismanaging resources and pursuing the wrong target customers.
- You miss out to the competition even when you have a head start: how many times do you see prospects buy something from a competitor that you initially pitched?
If any of this sounds familiar, then you might be starting to get the sense that something is wrong with how you handle your sales pipeline.
It begs the question: When was the last time you had a pipeline audit?
Are you keeping track of exactly where your leads are coming from?
Auditing your pipeline
Frequent audits are essential in every aspect of your business; how do you know if something is working unless you test it regularly? Auditing your sales pipeline is no different.
This is not an exhaustive list, but if you follow these 8 steps, you should have a strong idea of exactly what your processes need:
- Track: Build up a backlog of clean analytic data. This is an essential first step.
- Plan: Sketch out how your pipeline is supposed to be working.
- Compare: Who is your bullseye client? Do your current leads fit?
- Source: Identify where leads come from. How can you expand on this?
- Map: Where do prospects drop off along the way? How can you prevent this?
- Target: Are you effectively selling to everyone involved in the buying process?
- Assess: Identify where you may need to work with an external agency or CRM.
- Strategise: Using information from the previous steps, develop a robust pipeline strategy.
If everything goes to plan, you will soon be seeing a healthy increase in the qualified leads that are passing through your pipeline, as well as a diversification in the channels they’re coming from.
Get in touch
At Together Digital, we bring together experts in fields that intersect each of the key stages in your buyer journey—from creating initial awareness at the top of your marketing funnel, all the way through to developing long-term strategies designed to grow your business.
If you’re in a lead-based business and have concerns about your pipeline underperforming, get in touch and see how Together Digital can help.