Eight tips to help futureproof your sales pipeline
B2B prospecting isn’t an activity that many sales professionals relish. Today’s competitive commercial environment makes it less appealing still, as you try to navigate the digital buyer journey and figure out who is buying what, when and why. But prospecting is as vital as it’s always been to build and replenish a healthy sales pipeline; the digital revolution hasn’t changed that. So, as the new year starts to come into view, I’ve been looking at some top tips that will help you optimise all your B2B prospecting activity in 2023 - keeping your team efficient, maximising your selling time and helping you to build a resilient pipeline.
Tip one: Don’t waste your energy on targeting one individual if the purchase is a group decision
As the selling process becomes increasingly extended and extensive, these days your buyer is more likely to be a group of people than just one individual. As well as figuring out which companies are most likely to need what you’re selling, you need to figure out which group of people are the best to target within those companies quickly – sorting out the decision-makers from the influencers and fine-tuning messages to resonate with each.
Tip two: Build ideal customer profiles, then target them
Consider the obvious to create a total addressable market segment; business size, industry, location. Then hone in on your ideal customer profile based on the specific characteristics and attributes that constitute your sweet spot. Think about what kind of great use-cases you could solve - and what kind of great use-cases you have solved. You might want to build a sophisticated set of segmented user personas for more mature organisations, leveraging insight and differentiation your competitors don’t have. Then prioritise going after these ideal contacts. Solutions like D&B Hoovers can automate lists of companies and contacts that match your ideal profiles – and keep those lists automatically updated and replenished. Now you’re getting somewhere…
Tip three: Understand family trees and maximise your up-sell and cross-sell opportunity
Most companies exist within a hierarchical structure. Why does that matter? Because you can leverage those relationships to get a friendly and fast foot in a door. A related company is likely to have similar needs to the one to which you’ve already sold. “Your sister/parent company is already using our product” is a great introduction. Someone else has done the due diligence on you. The risk and effort involved to secure this sale are low. Analytics can help you understand family tree connections, work out branch or subsidiary relationships and where decision making authority lies. It’s also worth looking at the competitors and peers of companies you have already successfully sold to as well. It’s likely that they’ll have similar needs and pain points which your products and solutions can address.
Tip four: Propensity, propensity, propensity
You’ve found the right targets, now what is their frame of mind? In short, what is their propensity and appetite to buy? A good sales tool with analytics capabilities can help you to identify and priortise the best opportunities. Knowing which prospects are ripe for picking by understanding buyer intent signals and tracking events that may trigger buying cycles and reaching all the right contacts in a target account can really help you to engage with relevance at the right time.
It’s all in the timing. Know your buying signals and you’ll know when to engage. Executive-level personnel changes, industry recognition, large contract wins, hiring initiatives, newly formed joint ventures or partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, the opening or expanding of facilities, product launches and the public mention of capital investments are all things that may drive needs and budget.
Tip five: Engage with relevance and value
You’ve identified the right people and contacted them at the right time, now what will you say? Analyst Forrester claims that an astonishing 74% of deals are awarded to the seller who is first to engage with value, relevance and insight *. Before you make that first contact, really consider: What are their business goals and challenges? What concerns and motivates them? How do they think, feel and act? How are they likely to approach the buying process and what content should you serve up to them at each stage of the journey, bringing which pieces of your sales story to life?
Tip six: Get social
Choosing the right contact channel is also key, depending on the seniority and typical personality traits of individuals in the key roles you are targeting. Social selling is increasingly effective and popular, letting you stay connected and develop friendly conversations with buyers across the sales cycle. It delivers a 41% rise in win rates and increased seller productivity according to Forrester’s “Social Selling: A New B2B Imperative” research.
Tip seven: Data quality is key
The quality of your data dictates the ultimate success of all this prospecting activity. SiriusDecisions tells us that 66% of companies that proactively maintain their sales and marketing database can realise 66% higher conversions to revenue compared to those that do not.**
Tip eight: Get the right tools to make the job easier and more enjoyable!
One fast and easy route to great data and better prospecting insights is to employ a smart prospecting tool like D&B Hoovers. This provides insights on buyers from a universe of millions of potential global contacts, including decision-makers, company profiles and intent signals to alert you to when they’re in the market for what you’re selling. They also take a lot of the hard work and research out of prospecting and free up more time to sell engage and develop your strategy.
If you’d like to find out more about smarter B2B prospecting, take a look at our eBook or request a FREE Trial to see how D&B Hoovers can help you quickly find the right decision makers and better understand when your buyers are in market.
· Forrester: “To Win Against Increasing Competition, Equip Your Salespeople With A Deeper Understanding Of Your Buyers”
** SiriusDecisions: “The Impact of Bad Data on Demand Creation”