“Don’t wait for mama bird to feed you.”
An account executive used this phrase with me recently as we were discussing pipeline sourcing. I thought it was telling of the strategy being employed by many of the companies we speak with each day.
While many companies have a team of SDRs that focus on prospecting new leads to feed their AE’s pipeline, many companies are starting to encourage AEs to do some of their own development as well. While keeping prospecting apart from your closers may keep your sales reps focussed and productive, what happens when leads begin to dwindle?
A low pipeline is a villain in an otherwise successful sales story. Without it, AEs simply can’t do their job, they risk losing momentum and not hitting their quotas.
In order to avoid those risks, your AEs should source at least some of their own pipeline. But it doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Here are tips to help your AEs self-source pipeline efficiently.
Calls, Calls, Calls
AEs sourcing their own pipeline need to go back to some basic sales practices and call potential prospects. Sure, it may seem simpler to send an email, but emails can be easily ignored. Taking the time to search for the correct contact information, pick up the phone, and call new prospects to have open conversations is the most effective way for AEs to qualify prospects.
Some reps may think that finding the right phone number and reaching out to prospects could take a huge portion of their day. But calling prospects doesn’t have to take a ton of your reps time as long as they have the right technology. Salesloft’s dialer allows AEs to complete calls in a fraction of the time. Your reps can easily power through a call list or click-to-dial on a number anywhere in their browser (from LinkedIn, a company website, Salesforce, you name it!). Then, they can simply drop in voicemails and log any call notes with ease. When your reps’ call activities are taken care of, they can quickly qualify new prospects directly into their pipeline.
Work Those Referrals
When sourcing pipeline your reps could have an ample source of new leads from satisfied customers. According to McKinsey, word of mouth is a factor behind 20 to 50% of purchasing decisions. And why wouldn’t it be? If a prospect learns about your product from a trusted source, they will already be aware of the benefits you offer. This knowledge jump-starts the sales cycle with that prospect and is overall more effective for pipeline.
Requesting a referral can be as simple as creating a cadence to periodically follow up with newly acquired customers. One best practice for referral cadence emails is to have your reps offer value or additional services for your product. Continually providing value with best practice tips, helpful articles, or ebooks after the sale gives the customer even more reason to trust your reps and offer referrals.
Automate Whenever Possible
Some reps may be concerned that sourcing pipeline takes too much of their time. You can easily put your reps minds’ at ease by automating their repeatable sales process whenever possible.
Platforms like Salesloft allow you to automate particular actions like adding people to a cadence or executing steps like sending emails.
The referral cadence previously mentioned is a perfect example of a cadence that can be automated. Once an account has signed a deal, the people in that account may be marked as “Success.” Marking someone as “Success” could be the trigger that places people from that account into the referral cadence. Customers will work through the cadence steps over the course of the next few weeks and hopefully reply with a company referral. While these tasks are taking place, your reps can go about their day-to-day, steadily increasing their pipeline as they go.
While door-to-door sales is almost extinct, there is still a lot to be gained from meeting someone in person. Your reps may pack their calls and emails with personalization, but being face-to-face with a prospect increases the quality of their interactions.
Attending conferences is a great way for AEs to increase pipeline by connecting with a large number of prospects in a short amount of time. At conferences, you are surrounded by hundreds of people with similar interests. If current customers are attending the conference, it’s likely that potentials will be amid the masses.
If your company has a booth, AEs can take the time to shine and show your product’s value to attendees. Alternatively, you can send your AEs to conferences where you know potential customers will be.
Successful closers should know that sourcing their own pipeline is an invaluable sales skill. By providing them with pipeline goals and the right technology, your AEs can keep their pipeline steady and efficient.
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