What’s the one thing that every account executive wants (and needs) in 2020?
Answer: More pipeline.
Unfortunately, as any seasoned sales professional will tell you, there are many roadblocks to building pipeline. Customer delay tactics, poor internal communication, and terminology discrepancies are just a few reasons why building pipeline isn’t easy.
Mixmax recently sponsored a salon hosted by Modern Sales Pros and we thought we'd share the learnings from the sales community.
1. Firm Up Your Foundation
Building your dream home on a poorly constructed foundation will quickly turn into your worst nightmare. Sales reps may not build houses, but they do build pipeline. And, much like building a home, your pipeline strategy should be built on a solid foundation.
What steps can your business take to firm up its foundation? According to Amy Volas, Founder and CEO of Avenue Talent Partners, everything starts at the top.
“Building pipeline starts with hiring leaders who align with the company’s stage and goals,” Volas said. “Leaders must be able to understand the company’s current pipeline along with the market they’re stepping into before ever prescribing anything.”
Continuously reevaluating your pipeline’s foundation for newly formed cracks is another key step.
“We’re all very short-term focused because we have to deliver on a daily basis,” said David Dulany, Founder & CEO of Tenbound. “Great companies find time to take a step back, look at the big picture, perform a gap analysis, and develop processes to attack the gaps.”
Related Post: Tips for Better Sales and Marketing Alignment
2. Don’t Overwhelm the System with Too Much Tech
Surprisingly, less might be more.
“Technology is more overwhelming than ever before,” Volas said. “Give your team all the tools that they need to be the best version of themselves, but also find a balance between too much and not enough.”
How can you know if your company has the right mix of technology? For David Dulany, answering this question is an iterative process.
“We encourage clients to put recurring reminders on their calendars to revisit each tool every 90 days,” Dulany said. “Go in, validate the process, and ensure that everything is still working as originally planned.”
When auditing a sales tool’s usefulness to your pipeline, ask yourself these questions:
- Is the tool actually being utilized by sales staff?
- Are we achieving measurable ROI from the tool?
- How can we demonstrate ROI to our CFO?
- Who internally “owns” the success of the tool?
If the tool adds value to your pipeline, keep it. If it’s nothing more than a distraction, chop it from your budget.
Conversely, it can be OK to have different tools for SDRs and AEs. The workflow and sales motions for these groups are very different, and while it's tempting to try and shoe in one prospecting tool for both these groups, that strategy may significantly impair the performance of either group - especially if it doesn't support their daily process.
3. Strike the Right Balance of Hunting & Farming
Sales professionals are often likened to “hunters.” But should your AEs and SDRs also be good “farmers”?
“Today, more than ever before, companies are hiring sales development people for the farming side of their business,” said Don Erwin, Head of Salse, at Mixmax. “Selling into different departments within an organization is a brilliant way to build repeatable pipeline.”
Although farming may represent an excellent growth opportunity for your company, gaining buy-in can seem like an insurmountable task in today’s hunt-first sales culture.
“Companies get caught up in acquiring net new logos for their pitch decks,” Volas said. “Remember, it’s a lot easier to take care of what you’ve got than to get something new.”
Successfully incorporating a healthy amount of farming requires a cultural shift that begins with the customer’s needs.
“Flip the story around and focus on the customer’s journey,” Dulany said. “Learn about their internal pain points and their process for researching and identifying solutions. Then, map your process to that.”
Related Post: Are You A Sales Monkey Or Alpha Wolf?
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