June 21, 2022 in Tips by

Pipeline growth is and should be a priority for B2B marketers and sales professionals. How is your pipeline growing?

According to the report from LeanData, Sales Hacker, Outreach, and Heinz Marketing, The State of B2B Lead Management 2022, nearly half of the respondents cited pipeline growth as their main priority for this year. This result should be no surprise for B2B marketers, given how much marketing departments are required to contribute to the sales pipeline.

What is a B2B Pipeline?

It would be great if leads reached out to you for your products or services, and you were able to close sales without having to do any of the typical legwork. Unfortunately, that’s a wish that doesn’t come true very often. Instead, you have to generate your own leads, nurture prospects, and do your best to secure a sale sometime down the line. Until that sale closes, your prospects are in the sales pipeline.

A sales pipeline refers to the path a B2B lead takes as they move toward becoming a customer. There are several stages the prospect goes through along the journey. The organization determines the stages, so they may be different, but they could include the following:

Why is a Sales Pipeline Important?

The sales pipeline provides organizations with real-time measurement of how sales and marketing engage with target customers, how effectively employees convert the engagement into sales opportunities, and finally, potential revenue. In addition, the pipeline indicates how effectively sales and marketing are applying the sales process, and it allows management to see what is working and what needs to be reviewed or revamped.

Given its significance, how can you best focus your efforts on enhancing how you manage your sales pipeline?

Managing a B2B Pipeline That Flows Effectively

Given the importance of the B2B pipeline, you can see that it’s worth your time and effort to manage your pipeline as effectively as possible. Here are some strategies that will help you keep your pipeline flowing as it should.

Make Sure that Sales and Marketing are Working Together

Sales and marketing alignment allows for more accurate targeting and more relevant messaging at the beginning of the sales process. And that means you will get higher quality leads that are more likely to convert into sales.

Some ways to align your teams are:

Create Defined Stages

Setting up the right infrastructure is critical for a pipeline to be effective and grow consistently. The infrastructure of a sales pipeline includes the stages of the sales process that are right for your business. You have to decide how many stages your process needs and then define them, indicating exactly what needs to occur for prospects to move to the next stage.

Some stages are simple to define, while others are more challenging. For example, it is easy to determine whether you have provided a prospect with a demo or presentation, but determining when a lead is qualified may be more complex.

Don’t Rest on Your Laurels

One mistake that sales teams commonly make is to take advantage of the slowdown that follows a successful campaign or when sales numbers already exceed goals. While taking a bit of downtime is understandable, the slower periods are great opportunities for doubling down and building up a cushion in the pipeline.

Review and Clean Your Pipeline Regularly

Your pipeline’s effectiveness is only as good as the data it contains. That means that routinely reviewing and cleaning it up is important for forecasting. Each stage must be up to date so you can determine how likely it is to result in a sale and not just how long it’s been in the pipeline.

Cleaning your pipeline involves updating any data that is incorrect, removing leads who have stopped responding to your attempts to connect, and removing those leads who have declined to take steps to move to the next stage of the sales process. The more accurate your pipeline data is, the more accurate your forecasting will be.

Track the Right Metrics

The sales pipeline is always changing as customers move through the sales process. It isn’t a static tool. That’s why it’s so important to track some key metrics regularly. Those metrics include:

Final Thoughts about B2B Pipeline Growth

The B2B pipeline is the essence of your business. You simply can’t afford to underestimate its importance. If you’re not properly managing your pipeline, you may be missing out on acquiring new customers. The above strategies will help you manage your B2B pipeline more effectively. And when you master managing your sales pipeline, you will master your results.

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