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Simon Washbrook

Chamber Article – Building an Engaged Sales Pipeline

Building an Engaged Sales Pipeline (preparing your business to come out of lockdown)

By Simon Washbrook, founder of Popcorn 

I think we all would agree that these are strange times, but how do we ensure that we come out on the other side, not just with our businesses in one piece but perhaps even stronger?  

I have specialised in using Email MarketingCRM and Tracking Tools to drive sales and help businesses grow for several years, and so I want to share three strategies that I believe will help you take advantage of the opportunities that will present themselves when lockdown is over.

screenshot image of an article by Simon Washbrook featured in Chambers' Communication and marketing section titled Building an engaged sales pipeline

1. Getting your Data right

Understanding your data is absolutely key when it comes to generating a qualified sales pipeline. But don’t get hung up on the size of your database -the most important thing to focus on is segmenting, because if you send the same message out to everyone, you’re inevitably going to alienate some of your audience.  Start dividing your database into easily definable tags, such as customer types and geography, then move onto things like their interests, or pages they have looked at on your website.  Segmenting means sending the relevant information to the relevant people, and so you will soon see your engagement go up by at least 60 per cent.

Next, try not to think of your data as being in lists, but as something more dynamic – a prospect will only be in the buying cycle for a short amount of time. During that time they will want your sales messages, but outside of that, too many promotional emails are likely to make them to disengage and unsubscribe. Try using automation in your email marketing and CRM to automatically move contacts in and out of different marketing message groups, based upon their online activity. For example, if you sent out a newsletter and a contact, ‘John’, then went onto visit the customer service page on your website a few times, it’s probably safe to assume that he is experiencing issues with his current supplier and is researching alternative companies. You can then set up a rule in your email marketing, that would make John a ‘hot prospect’ and would move him from receiving the general newsletter to a series of targeted messages around customer service to nurture him further. The analogy of a slow flowing lazy river (newsletters) and fast moving rapids (targeted messages) is often used to describe this process.

2. Be the best Radio Station you can be

Imagine that you are out driving and the radio station you are listening to starts playing songs that you don’t like. You’re going to change station, right?  Well if the email marketing you send out is not what your customers want to read, they will do the same, but the way that they do that is to unsubscribe or send you to junk, which means less ‘engagement’ and less opportunities to follow up on.

So, think about what you are sending out – do your customers want to receive it?  If it’s about how you have achieved the latest ISO standard… I’m guessing that most of the time they don’t really care. Instead listen to the questions and the objections you get when speaking to prospects, or try using the ‘people also ask’ section in Google to find the questions that are being searched for.  When you know these questions, answer them in your Email Marketing.  Doing this will drive ‘engagement’ amongst your readers, who will then start turning to your emails and you for answers rather than just deleting them.

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3. Engagement, Prospects and Sales

Engagement really is the key to sales, because if your prospects aren’t engaging with what you are saying, they probably aren’t prospects at all – they’re just using you as a way to beat their current supplier down on price, which is a waste of your time and effort.

When I talk about engagement I don’t just mean someone calling or having a meeting.  The most telling engagement is when prospects don’t know you’re watching.  The most commonly known tracking method is through monitoring opens and clicks on your emails, but on its own, this does not tell you much, as most of these are generated by anti-spam software or previews being downloaded to your phone.  What you really need to see is the pages they are looking at when they come back a few weeks later.  When you join all this intelligence up in your CRM, you see a much bigger picture.  So for example, a client may have clicked on the ‘Send me a FREE Blue widget’ link in your email, but then went on to read the ‘Quality Case Studies’ on your website and called in to request a brochure.  This tells you that they have a Quality issue and are probably shopping around for a new supplier and should be promptly added to the ‘Needs a call’ section of your sales pipeline.

So to conclude, no matter whether you are just beginning your journey or are an experienced Marketeer who is implementing some of the more advanced techniques, the best piece of advice I can give it to keep it simple, whether that’s in your message or the software you’re using.  The more complex your process and systems are, the less likely you will be able to deliver the stuff that your prospects want to engage with.

Enjoyed this article? Comment below or read through our blog for more sales and marketing insights.

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