5 Tips To Building a Perfect Opportunity Pipeline

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At Zenatta Consulting, we are well versed in the perils and pitfalls that await companies trying to grow to new heights. We provide sought-after expertise that helps our small business clients expand. The most critical aspect of such growth involves their sales pipeline.

If your sales are slowing or you simply want them to grow faster, there are concrete actions you can take to remedy this. Every contact with a prospect is an opportunity to convert them into a customer. To be as successful as possible, you need to maximize your efficiency at making these conversions. This requires having a high level of organization in your sales pipeline, which could also be thought of as an opportunity pipeline.

Your sales pipeline will consist of all the stages a typical prospect will go through on their way to converting into a customer. A big part of success in pipeline management is getting and staying organized. You need the systems in place to nurture your leads so that they order from you instead of a competitor. This is essential to your growth, and the following actionable tips are just a few ideas to give you a leg up on any competitors.

Spend Time on High-Value Leads and Drop Bad Leads

Not All Customers Are Created Equal

Your company will have some customers that are more valuable to you than others. This can take the form of those who do more regular purchases as well as those who place larger orders. In whatever spreadsheet or sales software you use, you can sort your customers by sales volume rather than by date or another metric.

Doing this will graphically illustrate what is known as the Pareto Principle. In terms of your company’s sales volume, this principle translates into the notion that approximately 80 percent of your sales will come from 20 percent of your customers. These are the people you should be spending the most time following up with.

Clear out the Deadwood

Similarly, you want to identify any areas of wasted effort so that your sales team will be working at peak efficiency. Perhaps you had someone reply to an ad that brought them into your sales pipeline. That said, if it has been a couple of months and several emails and voicemails have gone unanswered, you should drop them in order to focus on higher-quality prospects. Knowing when to cut a prospect loose will save your sales team uncounted wasted hours.

How many times should you reach out to a prospect before giving up on them? There is no magic answer to this question, but some suggest that five unanswered voicemail messages and five ignored emails is a good rule of thumb. Any fewer attempts than this and you might be giving up on them prematurely. Contacting them more than this runs the risk of making you look like a pest and leaves them with a bad impression of your company.

Have a Standardized Pipeline Process That Utilizes Personalization

You can’t have the success or failure of your company relying on whether each member of your team is a born salesman. There needs to be a standardized sales process in place that is followed with all leads. This way, you’ll know they’ve been exposed to the information they need in order to see the value in your products or services. This includes utilizing all means of contact they’ve given you. If you have a phone number, email address and social media information, be hitting all of those avenues to maximize chances for a sale.

Make Them Feel Like a Real Person

Standardization does not mean it should lack personalization. Once you have a customer’s basic contact information, make sure that every email and other communication leads off with their name. You’ll also need the sales message to be different depending on what ad they’re responding to. Landing pages designed to talk about the specific products or services that a given ad is targeting would be an excellent example of this.

If someone has bought from you in the past, utilize this information to make future purchase recommendations that are related to these past purchases. If someone bought a teapot from you last week, offer them 10 percent off on a set of teacups in your next email to them.

Routinely Refine Your Pipeline Processes

Successful sales techniques are always evolving. A couple of decades ago, the business world had to adapt to this thing called “the internet.” Before this, you would probably just have an ad in your local Yellow Pages directory. If you could afford it, you might have thrown in some direct mail or a local radio or TV spot. Today, you need a mobile-friendly and SEO-friendly website that is augmented by a social media presence. All of this can still be complemented by local business directory listings that are the heir apparent of the Yellow Pages of old.

Don’t Overdo It

For maximum efficiency, you want your sales process to be as short as possible. Any unnecessary steps will mean you’re wasting time and giving the customer time to jump over to a competitor. Depending on the nature of this step, you might also be wasting money. The number of steps in a sales process that can be deemed “necessary” will, of course, vary with the nature and cost of your good or service. Obviously, it’s going to take a lot more time and follow-ups with someone to sell them on a timeshare in Florida than it will to get them to order a simple toolset.

Request Referrals

Each sale you make means you’ve already done a great deal of work convincing a given prospect to do business with you. It has long been known in sales that it’s easier to make a repeat sale to an existing customer than it is to find a new customer. They already trusted you enough to order once, so this barrier to a sale is already overcome.

This concept also extends to their social circle. Unless they’re a hermit, this new customer will have friends, business associates and other contacts in their life. Don’t miss out on the opportunity of asking them for referrals. Nothing does more to warm up what would be a “cold” contact than for that person to see the name of a friend at the top of an email. In fact, referral leads are 30 percent more likely to convert than those generated by other marketing methods.

You may even want to up your game in this regard by incentivizing people to give you referrals. Offer them a certain percentage off their next purchase for every referral. Given the marketing cost of acquiring leads and then the additional money as well as time spent to convert them into a customer, these incentives can be money well spent.

Use Zoho CRM

In the introduction, we mentioned that good tips for perfecting your opportunity pipeline are those that help you get and stay organized. Nothing helps a company accomplish this better than CRM software. This stands for customer relationship management, and it’s exactly like it sounds. It helps you keep all the information about prospects and customers in one place. This enables your sales team to see at a glance all previous interactions between your company and these contacts.

Zoho CRM is a highly-rated and affordable option for businesses that need simplicity and customization. A favorite for small businesses, you will appreciate the features offered by even the basic package:
-Sales Forecasting Tools
-Mass Email Capability
-Capacity for 100,000 Records
-Document Library
-Integrations with Popular Products

These integrations include its ability to work with an endless variety of your favorite applications. It has the potential to put the power of marketing automation in the palm of your hands. At Zenatta, we help your company realize this potential and so much more.

Cutting-Edge Support for Explosive Growth

Following the above tips should help you streamline your sales pipeline. Success in marketing today requires the right tools and knowledge base. It is hard for any business to acquire sufficient expertise in the fundamentals of business marketing growth while also handling their day-to-day operations. This is where we come in.

Our team at Zenatta Consulting has provided targeted solutions that have helped over 300 clients in many industries and sectors. We are a Zoho Premium Partner and Consultants. This means we can train your staff in leveraging every last advantage that this powerful CRM can give your business.

We can assess your organizational fundamentals and spot areas that could use improvement. This includes consulting on Shopify to help you dominate the world of e-commerce. Helping businesses like yours with their Google Ad campaigns is another area we excel in. Do you need help in any of these areas? If so, please don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how we can increase your opportunities for growth.

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Billy Bates

Senior Web Developer

Billy is a Wordpress Developer with an eye for design. His knowledge will help our company website and client sites meet their goals. Billy and his young family have just moved to Ashland Oregon, and are looking forward to exploring the area’s amazing beer, wine, and food. He also has a passion for synthesizers and drum machines.

Lucas Sant'Anna

Senior Developer

With a background in Operations Research and Data Analysis, Lucas is a Brazilian programmer that likes to get stuff done quickly and reliably. In previous jobs, he implemented industrial job scheduling, fleet management and detailed long-haul route optimization – among other data-driven processes – to reach objectives of increased profit and reduced wasted resources. His goal is to make Zoho fully automated and with more meaningful data for spot-on decisions.

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