Growing your sales pipeline using digital technology

Businesses are at a pivot point as face to face sales meetings are not possible, and exhibitions, conferences and events are either cancelled all together or postponed to the back half of the year. There’s more pressure than ever for sales and marketing leaders to generate revenue and keep a strong pipeline as companies are forced to create contingency plan after contingency plan, reacting to what COVID has done to their business over the next 60, 90, 120, 180 days.

Businesses have to find different ways of connecting with the market.

The focus should be on sustaining business, maintaining that momentum to hit the set lead generation targets. Especially for businesses with long sales cycles. Replace the sales activity that isn’t possible at this time with new marketing activity. If you simply delay both your sales and marketing activities now, you’ll see an impact on long after we’re back to ‘normal’

So how will you do it? And how can you prove that marketing in uncertain times is an investment into the pipeline and not a cost to be cut?

There are many areas of lead generation that businesses should consider now that will help sustain and maintain growth now and in the future, here are some ideas to get you started.

Laying the right foundations

A clean and accurate customer database is more valuable than ever. Before diving in to new lead generation tactics, it would be beneficial to take time to remove false and inaccurate records to help enhance future campaign results.

It’s a great time to stock up on new business leads and prepare your team with tools to track your targets’ digital body language, something that is increasingly important as reading physical body language is not an option. Some types of software to consider are:

Marketing Automation

  • There are many tools that offer an all-in-one marketing, sales and service platform that is all powered by the same database (we use HubSpot). These tools ensure that all teams are working off of the same system of record, not only allowing for a smoother handoff, but a cleaner more all encompassing home for your business’s leads. Most automation platforms also integrate into your existing CRM such as Salesforce ensuring your sales and marketing activities stay aligned. Having well aligned channels also allows sales teams to enter into more informed conversations with leads depending on where they are in the sales cycle, and also let marketing drive leads that are more likely to buy.

Sales Intelligence

  • A tool such as Lead Forensics can help you identify leads in real-time, instantly notifying you of website visitor’s contact details including business name, demographics and search behaviours.
  • With the ability to import data from your CRM, LinkedIn Sales Navigator will automatically send you updates on key accounts and prospects, or you can use the search functions to save your own lists. Sales Navigator will also make lead recommendations of potential industry targets based on the information from your saved leads, lists and searches.

With a combination of sales intelligence and marketing automation tools you will create a deeper pool of prospective accounts and clients to target and will have a clear picture of them to follow them through their buyer journey.

Be ready to start the conversations

Now that you’ve cleaned up and identified your target list, your focus can switch to lead generation including inbound activity. Social and digital marketing are essential when helping raise awareness and generate leads, everyone has it but not everyone uses it to its full potential. When you market your business in a way that naturally aligns with what your buyers really want, that’s where great things happen.

Create the best webpage, article, blog, video or webinar for your target audience, and create it in relation to a pain point or challenge that they have, showing that you care about it. In a sea of mediocre content marketing, only the glint of gold draws attention, so make yours that one that gets noticed. This content will play a key role in driving up search traffic, helping nurture and close customers. Benefits that your teams will see include higher lead to customer conversion rates, larger more engaged social audiences and improved search rankings through inherent SEO practices.

Targeted campaigns will also ensure you can connect to new audiences that interests align with yours. Once you’ve cleaned up your existing data, why not use this as a starting point for your targeted campaigns with matched audiences, or targeting a new target group.

Bring your leads to you

Inbound marketing is a methodology that attracts customers to you by creating content and campaigns tailored to their wants and needs. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they may not want, inbound marketing will address problems they already have, connecting to them to the solutions.

An inbound marketing approach provides everything you need to increase traffic, convert leads and prove marketing ROI. Inbound strategies are comprised of many components, such as website and SEO optimisation, content creation, emails and more that can be implemented based on your goals and needs.

By aligning these elements, inbound offers a holistic, data-driven approach that helps businesses measure, refine and optimise their marketing efforts, all the way from attracting leads to nurturing existing relationships. The goal is to build a repeatable system that will allow you to see steady growth in results progressively overtime.

Once your campaigns have gathered more leads into the top of the funnel, your sales team (empowered by the tech mentioned earlier) can automate lead nurture through drip campaigns.

Agility will be the key in all of your communications campaigns. Be sure to regularly review activity and analyse reports, showing results and impact of chosen tactics. This can be managed as a fully managed service through CRM such as HubSpot, which includes nurture scoring, analytics and reporting.

If we think of lead generation as future proofing the business, there should be no challenge in keeping momentum and motivation going to get ahead of competitors and create front-of-mind recognition for customers as we work towards a new-normal. Take advantage of the current situation, so that once things settle down you’ll have a highly efficient and effective revenue generation effort to work towards this years targets.

Go where your leads are

As businesses and governments now prohibit all but “business-critical” travel in light of Coronavirus virus, a growing number of events have shifted from in-person to virtual gatherings. While nothing can really replace the benefits of a face-to-face gathering, these virtual events, if thoughtfully done, can accomplish powerful results as well.

Effective communication during this time will be a differentiator for your business. Every videoconference, virtual meeting or event is an opportunity to accentuate your brand. Ensure the planning of these virtual meetings is deliberate and thoughtful with a focus on excellent facilitation. For more information on how to run effective online meetings see here.

If you had tradeshows, conferences or exhibitions on your agenda, and you heavily rely on leads from these events, you’ve probably started looking at virtual substitutes. Consider producing and hosting a series of content webinars to drive up positive action and influence.

The key for these webinars is not to sell, but to educate your prospects on how your product and service could best help them solve their challenges. Show them why they should work with you versus telling them they need you. If you have partners, consider working them into the plan so that you can share the heavy lifting, make your content more robust, and reach more people in the process.

Utilise your existing databases by building a combination of sponsored and organic social messaging and email communications into your digital strategy to support the webinar series. Follow these webinars up with gated downloadable recaps to further gather data from your participants, which you can then put into a nurture campaign.

Overall, be ready to get creative to keep conversations advancing. Try experimenting with things you’ve never done before like giving virtual tours, having a virtual coffee catch-up, sending video links of your product/service in action, or adapting your sales pitch into a visual virtual presentation.

The costs saved through not attending tradeshows or exhibitions should be reinvested in primarily digital tactics in order to preserve pipeline value and velocity. A year of the martech mentioned above may cost less than your team’s attendance at one show, and will profit significantly more measurable results.

Book an exploratory session with us to discuss potential rapid development of a ‘new normal marketing approach’ for your business that will identify investment and technology requirements.

Glossary of terms:

CRM: Customer relationship management (CRM) is a system that manages interactions with existing and potential customers and sales prospects.

Drip Campaign: A method used in marketing to acquire customers through lead nurture programs. It involves sending marketing information to prospects repeatedly over longer periods of time in order to nurture prospects or leads through the marketing funnel.

Lead: A person that transforms from an anonymous website visitor into a known contact part of your business sales cycle. This process occurs as the visitor provides his or her contact information in exchange for valuable content.

Lead Nurturing: The process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel, and through every step of the buyer’s journey. It focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects, and providing the information and answers they need.

Organic Social: Anything posted on your social media pages that is not supported by paid promotion.

SEO: Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.