Rev up your sales pipeline: Acceleration tactics
Sometimes, sales pipelines need a bit of plumbing to make things flow better. But… What if you could add in an extra bit of rocket fuel to give things a boost, too?
It’s time to strap in for some speedy tactics to shorten your sales cycle. Seat belts on? Let’s go…
What is sales pipeline acceleration?
Pipeline acceleration is all about speeding up the sales process. By accelerating the sales pipeline, businesses can close deals faster and generate revenue more rapidly. This enables companies to meet their sales targets, increase cash flow and improve overall financial performance.
Pipeline acceleration helps to reduce the time it takes for leads to move through the sales process. This can be achieved by streamlining sales activities, identifying and addressing bottlenecks, and implementing effective lead-nurturing strategies.
Pipeline acceleration is particularly crucial for businesses with long business-to-business (B2B) sales cycles, which tend to be lengthier than business-to-consumer (B2C) sales cycles.
Are there other outcomes of pipeline acceleration?
Absolutely. Here are some more benefits:
- Improved sales productivity. By optimizing and automating sales processes, pipeline acceleration allows sales teams to focus on high-value activities, such as engaging with qualified leads and closing deals. This increases sales team productivity, as they spend less time on administrative tasks and more time on revenue-generating activities.
- Enhanced customer experience. Faster movement through the sales pipeline means that customers receive quicker responses, personalized interactions, and a smoother buying experience. This improved customer experience can lead to higher customer satisfaction, increased loyalty, and a greater likelihood of repeat business or referrals.
- Better sales forecasting and planning. Pipeline acceleration provides businesses with more accurate and up-to-date data on the status of leads and opportunities. This enables better sales forecasting and planning, allowing companies to allocate resources effectively, identify potential gaps or bottlenecks, and make informed strategic decisions to drive growth.
How to calculate the speed of your sales pipeline
How slow is your sales pipeline? Your sales velocity will tell you exactly this and is a key metric to calculate in order to benchmark your optimization progress.
Calculate sales velocity, and you can determine the speed at which leads move through your sales pipeline and how quickly deals are closed.
You can calculate sales velocity by:
Average deal value × win rate × sales cycle length = sales velocity
Now you’ve done the math, it’s time to address the elephants in the pipe…
Common speed bumps that could be turning your sales cycle into a snails cycle:
- Lack of decision-maker engagement. Decisions and approvals can be delayed or difficult to achieve if key decision-makers aren’t part of the initial discussion.
- Unclear buying process. If the prospect doesn’t have a clear buying process, it can cause confusion and delay things. Without one, a sales team can struggle to know how an organization goes about making decisions.
- Competitive challenges. If a prospect is involved in multiple conversations with your competitors, it can lead to extra time spent comparing offerings and making a decision.
- Budget constraints. If the prospect doesn’t have a clear budget or needs to go through a complex budget approval process, it can prolong the sales cycle.
- Lack of urgency or prioritization. Until prospects feel an immediate need or urgency to address a problem or take up an opportunity, your sales cycle can drag on.
- Internal stakeholder alignment. In B2B sales, multiple stakeholders within the organization might need to align their interests and requirements in order to agree to proceed. This can take time.
- Lengthy contract or legal processes. Contract negotiations, legal reviews, internal compliance processes, and obtaining necessary approvals… can all lengthen the sales cycle.
- Lack of information. If your sales team isn’t providing sufficient access to information for prospects to make a decision, it can lead to further delays. This also applies to the prospect’s side – if they’re unable to gather the internal information they need to evaluate the solution from their business’s perspective, this can also cause things to slow.
- Changing priorities or organizational dynamics. Shifting priorities, organizational restructuring, and leadership changes within the prospect’s company can all affect the sales process. Extra time may be required for additional education and relationship-building in order to regain momentum.
Pipeline acceleration tactics
Putting pedal to the metal isn’t simply a case of setting targets and dangling a bunch of incentives in front of your sales team. It’s about using data insights to inform and refine the stages of your pipeline – from lead nurturing to closing a deal.
Here are some proven pipeline acceleration tactics you might want to consider:
1. Use first-party data to continually refine your ideal customer profile (ICP)
First-party data refers to information collected directly from individuals by a company through its own channels, such as website interactions, purchases, or newsletter subscriptions. This data is owned and controlled by the company, providing valuable insights into user behavior, preferences and demographics to assist with personalized marketing strategies and improved customer experiences. Marketers working in account-based marketing take note: ABM ICPs can improve dramatically using content engagement data.
By refining your ICP, you can:
- Target the right audience
- Prioritize revenue and customer lifetime value (CLV) over leads
- Improve efficiency by quickly identifying campaigns and processes that aren’t bringing in value (and those that are!)
- Ensure all teams are focused on the same targets
2. Activate your ICP by analyzing content performance and keeping things personal
This step is all about encouraging your newly-refined prospects into action.
Measuring content performance will help identify strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for improvement. These insights then feed directly into the sales pipeline to deliver more impactful, relevant, and persuasive content to prospects during the sales process.
As a result of refining your ICP, you can personalize your pipeline further by championing an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. This approach focuses on creating very personalized content for targeted prospects, helping address their pain points and questions, as you introduce your solution/s. ABM tactics are helpful to include in your lead generation strategy, as they identify high-performing accounts in your database (CRM) – helping set the parameters you’ll use to measure success. You’ll then be able to optimize your channels and network more effectively while refining your content with personalized, relevant information that will resonate and encourage action.
Thankfully, technology makes the content analysis and personalization process as simple as a few clicks. In fact, content performance analysis and personalization is where Turtl technology thrives. Turtl Analytics shows instant interactivity results, helping steer marketing content and sales conversations.
Make sure to continuously monitor your ICP and content results, making adjustments based on feedback and performance. This agile approach paves the way for clearer and more relevant communication with prospects, helping your sales team achieve higher conversions and faster sales cycles. Monitor, analyze, refine and activate!
3. Streamline your pipe
It’s now time to analyze and optimize your sales process to identify and eliminate inefficiencies, reduce redundant tasks and simplify workflows. You can do this by:
- Defining clear stages. Clearly define the stages of your sales pipeline based on your specific sales process and customer journey. Identify the key milestones and criteria for moving leads from one stage to another. This provides a structured framework for tracking progress and ensures a consistent approach throughout the pipeline.
- Qualifying leads effectively. Implement a robust lead qualification process to ensure that only qualified leads enter your pipeline. Clearly define your ideal customer profile and establish criteria for lead qualification, such as budget, authority, need, and timeline (BANT). This helps focus your resources on leads with the highest potential for conversion, preventing wasted efforts on unqualified prospects. We show you how to create accurate lead-scoring models from content engagement analysis.
- Automating and streamlining processes. Use sales automation tools and technology to streamline repetitive and manual tasks. Automate lead nurturing, follow-ups, and administrative tasks to free up time for sales reps to focus on building relationships and closing deals. Customer relationship management (CRM) software can help track and manage leads, interactions, and sales activities efficiently.
- Sales multi-threading. Instead of relying solely on a single point of contact, multi-threading involves building relationships with multiple decision-makers, influencers, and stakeholders across different departments or levels of authority. While these additional conversations can add time, they can accelerate decision-making as they enable a broader understanding of the prospect’s needs, challenges, and priorities – while mitigating the risks associated with relying solely on a single contact.
- Understanding the role of content in the buyer journey. Content plays a significant role at each stage of the buyer journey, from initial awareness to the final purchasing decision. To speed up the sales process, you need to assess the role of your content in each of these stages. For example, content’s role within the awareness stage is to increase awareness and capture attention. This can include educational content such as blog posts, white papers, videos and infographics. While content such as testimonials, reviews, guides, and pricing guides play a bigger role in the buyer’s decision stage.
- Ensuring content remains relevant. Engage and nurture prospects with content that’s relevant to them, helping them effortlessly flow from one stage of the pipeline to the next without feeling rushed.
- Implementing sales collateral and tools. Equip your sales team with effective collateral, presentations, and tools that support the sales process. Provide them with templates, scripts, and resources that align with each stage of the pipeline. This ensures consistency, saves time, and enhances the overall effectiveness of the sales process.
- Improving communication and collaboration. Champion effective communication and collaboration among team members involved in the sales pipeline. Encourage regular meetings and knowledge sharing to ensure everyone is aligned and working towards common goals. Use collaboration tools and platforms to facilitate slick communication and information sharing.
- Providing ongoing training and development. Invest in the training and development of your sales team to enhance their skills and knowledge. Offer regular sales training sessions, workshops, and coaching to keep them updated on industry trends, product knowledge, and sales techniques. This enables them to navigate the pipeline more effectively and close deals faster.
- Monitoring and analyzing metrics. Continuously monitor and analyze key sales metrics to identify areas for improvement. Track metrics such as conversion rates, pipeline velocity, average deal size, and win/loss rates. This data provides insights into the health of your pipeline and helps identify bottlenecks or areas where the process can be optimized.
- Continuously refining and optimizing. Regularly review and refine your sales pipeline based on feedback, data analysis, and market changes. Identify areas where the process can be further streamlined or optimized for improved efficiency. Seek input from your sales team to gather insights and suggestions for process improvements.
4. Use sales velocity metrics to report
Track progress by calculating your sales velocity and comparing it to your initial benchmark figure – have things sped up? Has this had a positive impact on your sales? If not, why? You might have streamlined certain bottlenecks in your pipeline, but is your sales team following the new process/es? Keep a close eye on your metrics, as they’ll continue to flag new pipeline blockers that arise, which could be starting to slow things down again.
5. Report, refine, repeat
Dedicate time to sales pipeline management, as it will assist you in tracking and managing leads, optimizing sales performance, forecasting revenue, and identifying areas for improvement. This will help your sales team:
- Double down on content that’s performing
- Personalize more deeply
- Tailor conversion paths to increase the likelihood of conversions
- Focus on high-performing channels
Don’t put your foot on the brake – report, refine, repeat!
As you can see, crunching the numbers can clearly signpost the next steps for sales teams looking to perfect their pipeline. Not only will this help them take a shortcut to faster sales and revenue growth, but it helps deliver better customer experiences. This in turn leads to a happier, less stressed sales team that can see the fruits of their labor.
Beyond refining your ideal customer profile, content performance analysis unlocks a whole world of personalization opportunities that makes sales collateral much more engaging and effective. It’s like a sales team’s sat nav for knowing which route to take when nurturing leads and having deeper conversations with interested prospects. Pair this with your most attractive lead generation techniques, and you’ll cross the finish line, fast.
Keep reporting, refining, and repeating the tactics that work best. Your sales team will be in pole position before they know it.