Want to Build a Massive Sales Pipeline? First You Need to Answer These 5 Questions

We love playbooks. Having one place that conveniently has all the answers seems so gratifying because it skips over all the hard stuff involved in trying to figure it out. Someone went through the process to put it all together so we don’t have to. Playbooks are great. Yet would using someone else’s playbook really work for you?  Take football, for example. What if you had an offensive playbook for a pass-heavy scheme, but your team was built to be ground- and pound-run oriented? Chances are, you would have a miserable season and the coaching staff would be fired. I bring up playbooks because a lot of sales teams tend to think in these terms. Building a sales pipeline is tough enough without having to plot the ins and outs of mapping out what they do. All that strategic thinking is hugely taxing. But like the football example, trying to adopt someone’s else playbook is often a recipe for failure. Every playbook is unique to that team, and the same goes for every sales process. What we are developing is a culture of sales hacks, but to hack is not a strategy. A strategy is the end product of thoughtful consideration and analysis of data to arrive at a direction that hopefully leads to more sales. When you have a strategy, you have a path to repeatability, and repeatability in the sales process leads to a healthier sales pipeline and faster growth.

When sitting down to define your sales process, you need to ask these five questions.  The answers will help define the unique formula that defines your success as a sales organization:[bctt tweet="5 Questions to Help You Build a Massive Sales Pipeline, by @marksbirch #salesfunnel"]

1. Who are your current customers?

Understanding what types of people or companies your customers are helps narrow the universe of customers you target.  These answers help to refine your Ideal Customer Profile, which in turn tightens up your list-building and demand generation activities. It also refines the qualification questions you use when you are building a sales pipeline.

2. Who is your typical buyer?

While you may interact with many contacts within a company during the sales cycle, there is usually one type of title/role that “owns” or “champions” your solution. Dig into that more to understand the persona of your buyer. Then look at other roles that typically get involved in the buying decision and maps those buyer personas. The outcome is a clearer picture of how to engage within an account, the roadblocks and objections that occur, and segmented messaging that appeals to each persona’s fears, concerns, and triggers.[bctt tweet="Identify your typical buyer to refine engagement methods + score more #sales, says @marksbirch"]

3. How do your customers describe your unique value?

Asking your existing customers to share the value of your solution in their own words gives you a clearer picture of why they chose you and what aspects of your solution, company, and process led them to choose you out of all other alternatives. This drives the types of messaging you use not only via content marketing, but also in the sales messaging.[bctt tweet="Use your customers' own words to craft compelling #sales messaging, says @marksbirch"]

4. Which channels of engagement convert best?

Most sales teams mix email and calls and social outreach to begin conversations with prospects. Look at the data and see what activities are yielding the best conversion rates and the highest quality revenue (highest lifetime value). Continue to experiment with different engagement methods and measure results to identify pockets of high responsiveness and capture changes in engagement. This way you'll avoid being stuck in sales activities of diminishing returns while working towards your goal of building a sales pipeline.[bctt tweet="Compare outreach methods to identify what yields the best results, says @marksbirch #salessuccess"]

5. Does your team have the right talent?

The previous four questions should provide a reality check as to what your real market is and how customers want to engage with you. This guides the sales model that is most appropriate for your company. For example, if you sell construction materials to general contractors, an outside salesforce may be more appropriate. On the other hand, you might be better off with a mostly inside team if you sell low-cost SaaS product. Obviously those are two very different types of sales organizations requiring different types of talent and skills. The talent and the model need to align for the process to work.[bctt tweet="#BusinessModel and #talent need to align for a #salesprocess to work, says @marksbirch"]

Once you have asked these questions and come to some answers, you have the raw materials for developing your own sales playbook.  Too many sales teams are operating blindly, grasp at the fringes of answers because they do not ask the questions. And before you think this only applies to sales leaders and managers, these are the same questions any sales rep should be asking when they are launching a territory and building their book of business.

You want to build a massive sales pipeline today?  Start to get strategic.  It will pay dividends many times over with the size of a pipeline that would make any sales pro jealous.

[bctt tweet="Want to build a massive #salespipeline? Start to get #strategic, says @marksbirch #salesstrategy"]

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