July 3rd, 2018 | by

If you’re singing the Blues after Q3, it’s time to change your tune.

Even if you hit your sales goal, the new quarter is still a great time to take stock of wins and losses … AND start building your pipeline for a quota-crushing Q4.

It starts today.

Just like exercise and eating your vegetables, building sales pipeline means doing the hard things now in order to reap a future reward. It’s difficult to get perspective when your paycheck is on the line – but your future self will thank you.

Here are 6 things you can do right now to grow your sales pipeline for success through the rest of the year.

Revive Cold, Dead Prospects

Just because a lead went cold doesn’t mean it’s lost. (Our own sales development team often has a better win rate with our cold, dead leads than we do with fresh inbound leads.)

Here are a few ideas to build pipeline with once-and-future prospects:

1. Refresh cold leads with web form go-backs

When leads come in from a web form, the demo and the deal should be a slam dunk, right? Not always. Our sales team follows up a few times, and they go dark. What now?

Building pipeline is about playing the long game, so here’s what you can do today: Treat them like outbound leads and let your sales development team go after them like cold leads – a phone call, an email sequence, maybe even a direct mail piece.

You don’t have to start entirely from scratch, though. Leverage previous engagement in your new outreach. Remind them of the value that they once saw in your solution and what is possible now.

2. Nurture closed-dead B2B sales opportunities

We know. You already qualified these leads and built a relationship. When they went dark for reasons unknown. You followed up, followed up, and finally gave up.

Well, try, try again – with a fresh pair of eyes. Take your closed-dead ops that went dark during the last six months, and swap them between Account Executives. A new day, a fresh approach, or a slightly adjusted attitude might be all it takes to get these leads moving through the sales funnel again.

Our Chief Revenue Officer Patrick Purvis suggests “Find out: Is there new leadership there? Are there other stakeholders at the company we should be engaging? Or is the timing better now if we just go back to the main point of contact we had the first time around?”

3. Revive demo no-shows

All of those case studies and personalized emails you sent, and this lead didn’t even bother to show up for the demo. Damn.

Your Account Executive probably already followed up with a few emails, to no avail. Now take those demo no-shows from the past year, along with those leads who engaged but dropped off before the demo – and you just got your Sales Development team a new batch of warm leads.

Purvis says, “Closed dead opportunities – leads that have gone dead and cold on us – are sometimes the best performing leads for the DiscoverOrg sales team.”

Engage Live, Active Prospects

Knowing when to reach out is a big piece of the puzzle. We think that the ability to prioritize leads according to those who are most likely to buy, and when, has as much to do with winning as anything.

1. Follow the Signals

There are a million reasons the time isn’t right to pull the trigger on a purchase. But sometimes the time IS right. Sales is a zero-sum game, and getting it “almost right” just means losing. Having relevant Opportunity data really makes the difference.

We look for events like rounds of funding, leadership changes, a new technology partner, new management, layoffs – any time changes happen, new business needs arise.

2. Guide the Decision Process

We’ve found that a lot of sales organizations are still waiting until buyers are most of the way through the funnel to engage with them. There’s good reason to reach out as soon as possible – or at least, sooner than the competition: The first salesperson in the door wins the deal, 78% of the time.

Buyers are already mid-way through their buying process before they ever engage with a salesperson.

Luckily for a savvy salesperson, all that self-directed buyer research activity is done online, leaving a trail of buyer intent. And it’s not hard to follow, if you know what to look for and have the tools to track it.

That’s Intent data: The cloud of information generated by online searches, downloads, and clicks online.

If people at your key accounts are doing an especially large amount of research on, say, Asset Management, or Machine Learning … well, if you’re selling a solution for that, you already know a thoughtful phone call will be welcome.

DiscoverOrg examines this data for patterns and especially large spikes of interest in particular topics coming from individual companies, to determine buyer intent.

See how Intent and Opportunity data can impact your sales pipeline.

3. Create Awareness Now

Whatever your personal feelings about “social selling” – it’s a fact that social media is a perfect awareness tool. It’s unlikely that you’ll be signing the contract over Twitter. That’s OK. You’re setting your sights on sales that are still months away.

Work backwards, starting with awareness: Your prospect needs to know who you are. Click around your prospect’s LinkedIn profile, follow them on Twitter, and reach out with some helpful research or an interesting statistic that might speak to their job.

Use social media to get on your prospect’s radar now. Three months from now when you’re staring down the next quarter, your leads will be all warmed up.

“You get to have hundreds of these convos every week and every month,” says Steve Bryerton, our VP of Sales. “Your prospect is in this bubble. Maybe they talk to a few other people in their bubble, but you are solving problems like theirs every day. You have unique insight and knowledge ot to offer the prospect. Be their partner. That will lead to the sales.”

Today’s closed-won deals are the fruit of yesterday’s labor – especially if you work in an industry with a long sales cycle.

So do your future self a favor: eat your vegetables, hit the gym, and build relationships knowing that it will all pay off – eventually.

5. Be a consultant first

“A generation plants the trees in whose shade another generation rests.” – Chinese proverb

Lucky you – you don’t need to wait a generation to reap what you sow. But waiting is part of the deal if you have a long sales cycle (or even if you don’t).

Start your outreach right now with the goal of building relationships, and your future self will thank you.

Charity Heller
About the author

Charity Heller

Content Strategist, DiscoverOrg

Charity Heller is DiscoverOrg's content strategy manager. She has 15+ years' experience developing and creating content in range of B2B, B2C, and creative industries; previously she founded and operated a book editing company. Charity earned a B.A. in English, Project Management certification, and Professional Editing Certification from U.C. Berkeley.