How to maintain a strong B2B sales funnel for 2018

Abi Abrahams, Tuesday 12 June 2018
7 min read time
 

 

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Our blogs have previously mentioned the B2B marketing funnel, but now it’s time for sales to have their say! The B2B sales funnel is wonderfully simple; it starts with a lead, moves through to a sales qualified lead and finishes with a customer. Obviously, there’s a huge amount of work between each stopping point, whether at the top of the funnel (TOFU) or bottom of the funnel (BOFU) maintaining a strong funnel all year round is a challenge for any sales team. So, let’s see if we can make it a little easier? 

 

It’s all about quality

 

Let’s get down to brass tacks and address what’s important. From start to finish, your B2B sales funnel needs to exude quality and care, in the generation and qualification of leads, right through the sales process to its close. The better quality of business leads generated, the easier they’ll be to qualify thoroughly. This in turn means you’ll close sales worth more, both in revenue value and in future ventures (such as retention and up-selling). Instill this quality throughout your sales funnel, and the rewards will be plentiful.


This (as always) is easier said than done. Every sales process is different, from team to team and even from lead to lead, so pinning down the key areas to focus on can be a challenge. Let’s look at the sales funnel in this simple form, and how we can improve the top, middle and bottom to bring real quality into your B2B sales process, allowing the funnel to remain robust and substantial all year long.

 

Top of the Funnel- leads 

 

It’s always best to start at the top- and in B2B sales, it all starts with business leads. How do your sales team acquire leads? Do they match your buyer persona? Are you spoilt for choice or grabbing anything that comes your way? Many salespeople focus more on working the lead to make a sale, but if the business leads you start with are bad quality, then the rest of the funnel will suffer, especially as time goes on.


Fixing this is simple- get yourself a great lead generation solution that works for sales teams. Stop calling cold data, hoping they might just have a small interest in your solution and start calling business leads that you know have an interest and need for your organization. This is what Lead Forensics does, and more! Our software identifies your anonymous website visitors, letting you know what businesses are in need of a solution like yours. We not only tell you the business name, we also provide contact details for key decision makers (including phone and email) along with insightful information about their visit to your site.


So how can this help B2B sales lead generation? The powerful information Lead Forensics supplies to sales teams means they’re now calling warm data that has expressed an interest in their product, and they can cherry pick the exact leads that align to their ideal buyer. With the contact details available, and the knowledge of what web-pages piqued their interest, sales teams can construct tailored follow ups, improving cold call success from 2% to 40%! It must be worth booking your free trial? Find out more here…

 

Middle of the funnel- sales qualified leads

 

The lead qualification process in sales is a crucial one that many underestimate- simply because they don’t see the true value. In its most basic form, a sales qualified lead is ready (and able) to purchase your solution. A failure to properly qualify leads can result in wasted time, missed opportunities, closing bad deals or being unable to close deals all together! With that sense of “quality” in mind, here are the dos and don’ts for qualifying sales leads, ensuring you gather all the information you need to keep your funnel in good shape.


Qualifying dos:

 

  • Put them against your buyer persona- How close are they to your perfect buyer? Highlight any differences and note what changes you’ll need to employ during the sales process to accommodate this sales lead. Do you need to change the language you use? Or do you need to adjust the content you send them? Make sure your buyer persona(s) are up to date, and remember- the more detailed they are- the better!
  • Know their needs- We’ve been saying it an awful lot lately, but it remains an impactful truth- your prospects want you to acknowledge their needs and adhere to them. Do your research, and know what highs and lows their industry are facing, and how this links to what you’re offering them. If this isn’t part of your qualifying process, then it’s highly likely you’ll lose them before they purchase from you.
  • Know their decision making process-If you know how they want to be sold to, and how they’ll come to the ultimate decision, then you’ll know exactly what they require from you along the way. This includes detail like decision makers involved, timescale and budget. The trick is not to just ask for these outright- try asking about similar solutions they already have. Ask about their most recent purchase and how it worked, this opens up conversation and allows for plenty of qualifying detail!
  • Ask about competitors-You need to know who else they’re looking at. Slip it gently into conversation, they’ll be open about it, and it saves them using it against you later. Never badmouth your competitors; complement them and be informative about how you differ. This allows you to qualify knowing who you’re up against, and how much work is needed to prove your product.


Qualifying don’ts:

 

  • Ignore inconsistencies-You’re keen to pin down some crucial answers from your prospect, but sometimes they say one thing, then later change it to another leaving you in the dark about what’s correct! Politely push the answers you need further to gain clarity, allowing you to draw out the detail. Avoiding this can lead to problems further down the line where the confusion is never cleared up.
  • Just listen to the words-Listening in sales is a key ability, something you need to be truly great. But in qualifying, you need to be listening to more than just the content, you need to pay close attention to their tone and the nuances in their speech. This can be a huge indicator in the validity of information given. Some of the detail you are seeking may be untrue, or they may have guessed instead of firmly knowing. This of course- comes back to bite later! So if you detect a whiff of uncertainty or fibbing- open up a question or opportunity for them to elaborate further. If you ask about budget, and they give you a figure that sounds like they’ve pulled it out of the air- ask them “were you given a strict budget, or do you have the ability to be flexible?”- keeping the conversation on topic helps to eliminate any uncertainties and smooth out what’s fact and what’s fiction.
  • Turn the call into a quiz-We get it-you need all this information, but don’t just ask question after question to gain information. Respond with answers, elaborating on topics and bringing some insightful knowledge into the call. Move on to the next question when it feels natural and human. Nothing puts a prospect off more than a robot that repeatedly grills them for information. If it takes more than one call to qualify a lead fully- that’s ok! You’ll be more likely to secure a follow up phone call by sounding genuinely interested in their organization above sounding like an interrogation officer. 

 

Bottom of the funnel- customers

 

It’s what we all want- plenty of closed sales; it’s how we get more customers! If you’ve qualified your business leads in the right way, you’ll have all the information you need to bring that quality forward into your sales tactics. Tailor everything to that qualifying information. Don’t work with a script just filling in the gaps, treat every lead with care, adapting your solution to their precise requirements. You’ll not only know exactly what they want to hear, you’ll know precisely what problems you may encounter and also what numbers to hit them with, and when. This may seem like a lot of work, but this is what rounds off a strong funnel- you’ll be maintaining high quality, qualified leads, and pulling them through the bottom as customers. But not just normal customers- customers of (you guessed it!) quality.


They will spend more money, as they see the true value of your product to their business; they’ll be easier to retain, offering you more sales through upsell, and most importantly, they’ll be likely to give you referrals. Always ask for them; 91% of B2B buyers would be happy to refer you, but only 11% of salespeople ask! This is where the secret to a strong sales funnel lies- referrals put more business back into the funnel and allow it to stay topped up all year long. But this doesn’t come easy- you have to work for it. Follow these steps to a high quality sales funnel, and you’re on track to see B2B sales success for the rest of the year.


Why not check out our latest free resource- the sales velocity calculator. It’s the perfect starting place for any sales team ready to boost their performance and generate more revenue!

 

Free guide - Discover how a multi-channel approach can evolve your B2B sales strategy, and prepare your team for success. Download Effective multi-channel models for marketing and sales for free today!

 

Effective multi-channel models for marketing and sales

 

Topics: Lead Forensics, Lead generation, B2B sales, Open Sales Conversation

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