3 April 2019
From staying on top of changing technology trends to vying with new marketing tools, channel resellers have a lot to juggle. As a result, management of your sales pipeline can sometimes take a back seat. But to run successfully, it needs to be continually nurtured and optimised. Looking for some inspiration for how to go about it? Here’s five tips to consider.
When you’re busy courting new prospects and managing existing customers, fiddly admin is often the first thing to fall by the wayside. Actively chasing clients, attending meetings and following up leads can feel like more of a priority – and anyway, isn’t it well known that the best salespeople are terrible at admin?
That may be true, but admin still matters. With customers at different stages of the pipeline requiring distinctly different levels of attention, keeping a close eye on who is at what point can make all the difference. So, when a prospect moves to the next stage of the pipeline, or a key event takes place, make sure this is reflected in your records.
Having a winning marketing plan is a non-negotiable feature of your business strategy. And you need to spend time developing this, whether that’s persona research or developing your social media presence. However, to truly optimise your pipeline, your marketing also needs to be synced up with your pipeline, allowing you to send targeted messages at different stages.
You wouldn’t want to send a top-of-the-funnel blog to a customer who has already seen a product demo – and likewise, a completely fresh prospect probably won’t want to wade through an in-depth eGuide. If you aren’t already using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, this is definitely something to consider, and makes stage-by-stage targeted marketing much easier to deliver.
As a channel seller, you should always be looking at how anticipated industry shifts and tech changes can help you to develop a more targeted, relevant service. Just consider the impending switch off of ISDN in 2025. Whether they like it or not, all businesses still relying on ISDN to deliver their telephony solution need to find an alternative in the next few years – and this is something you should be taking advantage of.
By making sure you have clear expectations about what’s to come, you can look at your pipeline with a greater level of insight. Have an old customer who hasn’t updated their communication solutions in several years? Then unified communications might be an opportunity to re spark the conversation.
To keep your pipeline running smoothly, you need to stay knowledgeable about the problems your customers face, and what products and services are available to ease these pain points.
And this is true even for products that you may not be directly planning to sell. For example, both Unified Communications and SD-WAN are much-discussed topics at present – so it’s likely many of your customers will have questions about these solutions. Being able to field questions knowledgably will strengthen your relationships and thus improve the quality of the leads in your pipeline.
When you think about your sales pipeline, you might be primarily focused on attracting new customers and nurturing them through to completion. It’s a problem frequently experienced by those looking for an insurance quote, or a new phone deal. The best pricing and customer service seem to be reserved for new prospects, leaving old customers feeling slighted – and more than likely in search of a new provider.
But chances are, your customers will need to renew their contracts in a few short years. So, they’ll need continual nurturing, as well as a high level of customer service throughout the life cycle of their contract with you. Continually add value with helpful resources, timely and polite service, and by providing quick resolutions to issues that arrive. Finally, when it is time for your old customers to renew, apply the same level of attention you would for a new customer.
Optimising your sales pipeline is a task worth taking time over
It’s one of those tasks that can easily be neglected – but to be truly optimised, your pipeline will always require conscious management. And of course, you should remember to look after your existing customers, as well as managing the prospects in your system.
3 April 2019 | Justin Coombes
The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.