Guide: Triple Your Pipeline (v1.0)

triple your qualified leads imageIf you want to grow, the most important thing isn’t how great your salespeople are or how effective their sales process is.  The most important thing, the thing that determines how fast you grow (or don’t), is having predictable ways to generate quality pipeline for them.  For the right companies, an outbound prospecting team can give you control over quality and quantity of your lead generation, and thus also a solution to exceeding your sales goals.

Learn here:

  1. How to avoid wasting your leadgen budget and energy by understanding the three types of leads: Seeds, Nets & Spears.  Learn the pros and cons of each, which ones you can grow, and why they are important and complementary.  Learn why inbound marketing doesn’t generate enough qualified leads for most companies, why companies need to do both inbound marketing and outbound prospecting, and why it’s usually better to begin with outbound prospecting.
    .
  2. Learn why and what kind of an outbound prospecting team (“Spears”) can triple your pipeline.  Not all outbound teams and processes are the same.  What kind of team and approach should you use to avoid wasting your energy generating poor leads or even nothing at all?  Should your people make lots of dials, or send lots of emails, or neither?  What kind of person makes the best prospector?
    .
  3. Learn how to build a world-class outbound team.  It’s one thing to put some people in a team and have them start prospecting…and another to create a machine that generates qualified opportunities month in and out, year after year.

INTRODUCTION: Steps To Tripling Your Pipeline

triple your leads iconWe’ve seen company after company multiply their rate of qualified lead generation for their sales teams, and know it can be done if you’re ready. (A few currently published: Acquia On The $100M TrajectoryDigium 400%, Crunched 300%, HyperQuality 300% – see page 32 of Predictable Revenue).  Even Salesforce.com, as a $3 billion company, still doubles its pipeline in its non-small business markets with outbound prospecting alone.

We’re not saying each step below is easy – they aren’t – but they are very doable and repeatable with executive commitment, baby steps and, perhaps most importantly, patience…

Here are the steps of a proven model:

  1. Are you ready to grow?  Do you know who you’re selling to, why they buy and can you scale  / make more of them successful? 
  2. Understand the three types of leads (Seeds, Nets, Spears) and the main way  to profitably grow each (customer success, inbound marketing, outbound prospecting) 
  3. Specialize your sales roles
  4. Build an outbound prospecting team & Develop them into experts
  5. Sell Ideas, Not Stuff

We’re big fans of inbound lead marketing, but as you’ll see in this guide, there are reasons why we usually recommend starting with outbound prospecting first (simpler, faster results, more specific targeting, faster feedback cycles. reach senior people).

Having said that, inbound lead generation can be valuable for just about every company…unlike outbound prospecting.  It’s ultimately up to you to find out through experience the best ways to generate the most profitable and predictable leads and sales.

Part 1: Are You Ready To Grow?

Are you an early stage company or large companies with a new product that doesn’t have a proven sales track record yet?  This section’s for you.  (If you already have a proven, scalable product, scroll down to the next section.)

If I asked you “how many paying customers do you have today?”, would your answer be something such as “none, we have five beta customers”, or “three,” “we’re a consulting business creating our product right now,” or “we have a lot, just not for this product”?

I know you all want to grow, but your desire to grow can outstrip your readiness, like a college graduate who wants a $150,000 salary.  Major investment in growing too early are a waste of money at best until you’re ready.  And slamming the pedal to the metal too fast has even threatened the existence of many companies…

For example, it’s not uncommon for companies in the “local” space who get some momentum in their hometown area, like San Francisco or Los Angeles; then raise money too fast and try to expand across other cities before they’ve figured out a repeatable or even profitable model in new cities without prior networks.

When are you ready?

You need “product market fit” with a good set of paying, successful customers in place.  How many is this?  In b2b, probably at least 10, but its what you’ve learned from them that is what is most important.

To be ready to proactively grow, you need to know 1) who your ideal customer is, 2) why they buy from you, and 3) be confident in making them successful with your service.   

Here’s a question for you: “If you got more appointments with the right kinds of prospects, what is your confidence level that you would sign up new customers that would be happy with your service?”

The more confident you are, the more you can invest to grow.  The less confident, the more you should invest to learn.

Products Vs. Services

While I’m a huge fan of services (I mean, I am a consultant and teacher!), it’s a lot easier to quickly grow a scalable product or “package-able service” such as software, hardware/devices, ‘physical stuff’, and pre-packaged business services that feel like products.

When I say “services” now, assume I mean consultants/consulting, probably the most common version.

Because the ‘product’ of services companies are really humans, service company sales tend to depend mostly on trust, cultural fit and relationships.  This isn’t bad, it’s just harder to find prospects who are a good fit, and takes longer for them to build the understanding and confidence in you to buy.

The more “standard” and “understandable” your offering is, the easier for prospects to ‘get it’, get interested and buy.

The more customized the service you offer, the harder it is for prospects to understand what you do, what they need and what to do with it to get value.

To make it easier to proactively grow, focus on the most repeatable, simplest-to-understand and popular offering you have.  OK, you can do 20 kinds of projects with 20 kinds of different customers…but what’s the most “popular point of pain” that people want to hire you for, your best niche?   This may even be a ‘boring’ part of your business, since you’ve been doing it too long and take it for granted…but I know you can find a way to make it interesting to yourself and others :)   

If you don’t have a product or package like this, work on designing it.  Unless you catch a lucky break, it’ll be a S-L-O-G to sustainably grow until you have it.  

Another Landmine – Easy Early Sales

Do you have the great problem of having an early product getting your first paying customers really easily?  You’ve landed getting a bunch of sales fast…congratulations!  But as experts in what you do, you may not realize yet that your customers may have a really hard time getting value from your product.  It’s easy to get caught up in selling too many customers too early, and stabbing yourself in the foot when large numbers attrit or churn over the next 12 months, or spread negative feedback.  Don’t chase new sales at the expense of Customer Success!  

Further Helpful Resources

Part 2: Understand The Three Types Of Leads

If you generated $10 million from 5,000 raw leads last year, don’t simply double your lead goals and assume it’ll double revenue.  Doubling your leads to say, 10,000, may generate $20 million or it might only generate $12 million in revenue…it all depends on what kinds of leads you’re generating.

Different kinds of leads have different close rates, sales cycles, profitability, conversion rates and order sizes…

Seeds Nets Spears v2

SEEDS 

Seeds are word of mouth leads, usually from prior relationships or happy customers.  These are how companies get started, and where most of your first customers come from.  

  • Pros: Highly profitable, word of mouth leads are the fastest to close and have the highest win rates.  There’s nothing better!  
  • Cons: It’s almost impossible to proactively grow them.  You just have to do your best and be patient.

No matter who you are, Seeds are the best leads you can generate.  But – if you sell to small businesses, seeds are one of the only ways you can profitably grow your business, unless you can figure out how to market really cheaply.

The best way to grow Seeds is with a Customer Success Program: happier customers = more & vetter referrals, testimonials and case studies.  Make sure you hold the hands of as many customers as it takes to figure out “customer success,” whether it’s 10 or 1000.  It takes as long as it takes, and you can’t sustainably grow, without painful attrition, until you’ve nailed it.  Also document why and how they succeed, so you can publish better marketing content and teach future customers how to get the best results from your service or product.

NETS

Nets are your marketing leads, such as internet marketing, events, webinars, white papers, advertising and the like.  You’re casting a wide net, so this is about “quantity over quality”.   

  • Pros: Easy to generate lots of leads, some kinds of marketing programs are scalable, you can generate leads from everlasting content, highly measurable.  There are ways to generate leads at almost no cost. 
  • Cons: Not sure what will work, most leads aren’t a fit, low conversion rates, mostly individuals / small businesses, small order sizes, a lot of cost and effort to build, optimize and maintain.

Social media – unless it’s a specific kind of online campaign - usually isn’t a ‘Net’ since it’s more like a medium like “email” and “phone” rather than a type of lead generation (and I’ll share more thoughts on Social Media at the end of this Part).  So social media – like phone and email – can be used as another method of delivering Seeds, Nets & Spears campaigns.

There are infinite kinds of marketing programs and ways to spend money, including ways to generate leads for free through insightful content.  If your lifetime customer value is worth less than say, $10,000 per customer, you should focus your lead generation on word of mouth (Seeds) and find the cheapest ways to effectively market (Nets), both of which you can do more cheaply per lead than prospecting.

Sometimes in niche small business markets or if you stumble upon a runaway success, you can prospect profitably to customers less than $10,000 in value.   But – it’s VERY hard to build a big, sustainable business out of small business customers.  I like to say “small deals pay the bills, big deals drive growth.”

The best way to grow your “Nets leads” is usually through an Inbound Marketing Program (more details to come about how to do this coming this summer).  In a typical program, you create content that people appreciate (be it Educational, Entertaining and/or Experiential) and share it with partners who have already have audiences relevant to what you do, through for example, guest blogs, ebooks, webinars or events.  The idea is that the right people love your great content and come back to you for more and more…and eventually purchase something.    

But – there is so much hype around inbound marketing!  Building an effective inbound marketing program that generates revenue – not just leads – takes more focus, time and expertise than most companies expect…(though that’s probably true for every important thing you undertake). 

For example, if you’re selling to companies larger than even a few dozen employees, inbound marketing may not be able to generate many of the kinds of leads you want for years (yes, years).  Inbound leads tend to be from individuals, small businesses and lower-level people at bigger companies.  You may need to do a lot of filtering to find the needles in your inbound lead haystack.  You might need a prospecting team to evaluate the low-level leads from the bigger companies and go above them, prospecting higher into an organization to see if there’s an executive-level interest in your offering.

When you are starting up any new marketing approach, don’t throw money at it blindly.  Spend small first to test, then put money behind something you’ve already seen work.  It can be hard to find a marketing approach that ‘clicks’ and generates enough leads at a profitable level, so you may need more patience than money to get value from your marketing programs.   

Also, marketing often generates a lot of leads – so be grateful, but don’t get excited until they convert into opportunities and revenue.  You can get a lot of ‘false positives’ in marketing, generating quantities of leads that go nowhere.

SPEARS 

When you have salespeople or business development people reaching out to specific targets, lists or kinds of companies…these are Spears.  It’s a specific, targeted approach, driven by a human, with a goal of “quality over quantity” (the reverse of marketing Nets).

In Predictable Revenue, this is “Cold Calling 2.0″ approach I detailed, that helped Salesforce.com add the $100M (and much much more since then).  To be effective and scalable, you need a team of dedicated reps who only prospect – they don’t close, manage accounts or respond to inbound leads.  If you haven’t read Why Salespeople Shouldn’t Prospect yet, it gives a great overview of why and more background.

  • Pros: Very predictable results, enables very targeted approach to ideal prospects at executive levels, fast is-it-working-or-not feedback cycle, creates a pool of sales talent.
  • Cons: Not profitable for small deals or customers, hard for ‘old school’ companies to get the culture right (gotta avoid boiler room mentality), may be hard to get executive commitment to specialize and hire dedicated prospectors.

One of the first questions I ask anyone interested in building a ‘Spears team” is “do you have any customers who have spent at least $10,000?”

If you have some customers at least that size, then it makes sense to explore building an outbound team that would help you find more of them (and bigger deal sizes is better – $10,000 is the bare minimum for profitability).

If you don’t have customers of at least that size, but want to do prospecting, figure out what you need to do to your product or service in order to acquire customers worth at least that much.

That $10,000 figure is a very general rule of thumb for product companies that can do faster sales cycles and cookie-cutter deployments; the harder (more expensive) it is for you to find and close a deal, the bigger it needs to be.  If you’re a consulting company that only does custom deals, perhaps you need to look for customers that are at least $25k, $50k, $100k…or more…if you want to make it profitable to prospect for them.

If you have lots of small customers and just a handful that are worth more than $10,000, only focus your prospecting efforts on finding the biggest customers that you can reasonably work with.  Better for you and your business to work with five $50,000 customers, than 25 $10,000 customers.

If you don’t have any customers yet worth $10,000 or more, ask yourself “what would it take for me to create a product that would be worth more than $10,000 to customers?”  You might need to add product features, design bigger projects, target bigger companies or a narrower niche…but you can do it.

The Three Leads Types Are Complementary

Ideally you want effective programs running across all three types of leads, growing your referrals, inbound and outbound leads. They’re all complementary, for example:

  • More Seeds (happy customers) = better content for inbound marketing, more data points for greater Ideal Customer Profile clarity improving both inbound and outbound,
  • Better Nets (inbound marketing) = better content for prospectors to use to educate people; easier to train/educate more employees (including prospectors) into becoming industry experts;  prospectors talking to people who aren’t ready to move forward can nurture them more easily with marketing’s content;
  • Spears (your prospectors) are the ones on the front lines talking with cold prospects, and have the best ‘ear’ to help marketing refine its tools and messaging so that it’s not a bunch of fluffy jargon and appeals to prospects.  They can also get into the senior levels of big companies that inbound marketing doesn’t penetrate well.  And lastly, take inbound lead registrations of powerless people at large companies, and ‘go high’ to see if there’s a real opportunity there. 

It’s important to understand that one type of lead isn’t better than another, ideally they all work together.  But you need to understand which kind of lead generation programs work best for which situation and goals, and with the right expectations.

A screwdriver isn’t better than a hammer or a saw; you need all three to build a house.  But you need to know enough to use a screwdriver with screws and a hammer with nails.

Why We (Usually) Recommend Starting Outbound Before Inbound

In a perfect world, your company has two experts already in-house, an outbound expert and inbound expert, and they’re both able to build their teams with all the resources and time they need at the same time…

Usually though, a company – with limited people and money – needs to decide where to put more of its attention and resources for several months as a primary focus – on inbound marketing or outbound prospecting?

For most companies, especially the ones doing something new, we usually recommend focusing on outbound first.  One reason is because a prospector should be one of the earliest sales hires – as soon as you have ‘product-market fit’ and have something you can sell effectively.

Other Reasons Why:

  • Smarter Target Marketing: By reaching out to all kinds of prospects, your outbound team will quickly help figure out which ones are the most viable and which ones to avoid, so that your marketing can be much more targeted.
  • Better Messaging: If they spend the time to learn from the prospectors, your marketing people will create much better content…because your prospectors are in touch with cold prospects all the time, and have the best ‘ear’ for what resonates with them and what falls flat.  
  • Faster Results: Inbound marketing can have a slow feedback cycle – days and weeks or even months – to determine if it’s generating qualified leads or not, because education is slow (it’s vitally important, but slow).  Outbound prospecting has a very fast feedback cycle, in hours or days, so you can tell faster when it’s working and grow it faster.
  • Easier to Launch / More Doable: Inbound marketing’s a lot harder and takes a lot more resources and time than most people realize – at least to get it right.  It’s a lot harder than the marketing automation companies admit.  I’ll tell you right now that getting your prospectors to be successful is probably harder than you think to, but it’s usually a lot more doable too for companies!

Now, we could also make the argument that it’s smarter to start with inbound marketing before outbound, because that way the company will develop all the things a prospecting team will need to hit the ground running.  Maybe…except usually when we see Marketing leading the way into “cold” markets without the benefit of prospectors’ insights, their messaging and content is fluffy, “salesy” and has too much jargon.

The exception: if you have an inbound marketing guru like a Jon Miller of Marketo as part of your team already, then get inbound going right away!

Comment from Kyle Porter, CEO SalesLoft: “At www.SalesLoft.com, we started our inbound practice before we built a product. We’re now generating over 500 inbound leads monthly (14 months into the business, all unpaid). We found that before we had the product, investing in spears helped us understand our ideal customer, their needs, how they bought offerings like ours and feed the material we needed to succeed with inbound. 

Just as inbound grew based on our outbound, and spears benefit from a slew of content to direct customers toward. The best drip nurture recipients are “spear-sourced leads” and the best “drip carrots” are inbound content. 

As our offering reaches it’s position of market readiness, we’ll invest additionally in spears. I feel that the next generation of technology companies absolutely MUST do both: inbound and outbound…and that feeding off each-other is the only way to maximize growth.”

The Truth About B2B Social Media (as of 2013)

Well, at least this is my current truth…and spoiler alert, I’m still a skeptic.  Social media’s not the cake – it’s the icing you add after baking your cake.  Don’t let the buzz of ‘social this’ and ‘social selling that’ distract you from the actually important things like product-market fit, messaging, refining your process, and hiring great people.

Unless you sell social media products, have a narrow target customer market that uses it, or are already a social power user, don’t put a lot of active energy into it beyond making sure your salespeople and executives have basic LinkedIn profiles up, and know how to search and send Inmails (people like to know who they do business with).  95% of you should avoid putting Facebook and Twitter stuff on your to-do lists.  Use it if you enjoy it, but not if it’s a burden on an already too-long to-do list.

Social media’s more effective for passive use – using it to see what a prospect or contact is posting about –  than for active users where you’re doing a lot of tweeting.

For example: Rapportive is a great plugin I highly recommend that automatically shows you the social profiles of people you’re emailing with.  Very cool, more useful as a conversation starter or to see if someone’s active or not online.

Social Media Success Is Still Erratic

I haven’t met a company yet where I thought “wow, we need to put social media at the top of their to-do list!”  If I even made a list, or put social media on it for a client, it’d probably be around 11th place on a “top 10″ list.  Usually social media generates lots of activity results – “wow look at all those Shares!” – but few or no sales.

It’s just hard for companies to create predictable, repeatable success with social media across their sales teams.  Your best use is accelerating an inbound marketing campaign with a Marketing Director who’s good at it.

A few observations, both from the recent past and from active client projects:

  • Bloggers, tech entrepreneurs, vendors and the Kim Kardashian fanclub are on social media…buyers aren’t (yet). In B2B, social media’s active users tend to be “strivers”, not buyers. 
  • Social media’s a distraction to most companies; unless you sell social media stuff.
  • Besides a few stories vendors use to pitch their social stuff…social media doesn’t generate meaningful sales, though once a sale’s in process it can help facilitate people getting to know each other a bit faster or stay in touch.
  • Some small number of your salespeople may use social media successfully (and that’s usually just by sending Inmail emails over LinkedIn)…but the other salespeople will struggle trying to copy their success.

I don’t think this will change in 2013 or 2014, but I’ll keep an eye on it through clients.  If anyone reading this section has had more than 10% of their sales come from social media, let me know.

When You Shouldn’t Do Prospecting

There are so many kinds of businesses and business models…ultimately you have to try different things, test what works and use your judgment on where to focus.

If you do mostly consulting or coaching, if your sales depend on you or your team personally, if you don’t have any customers that are worth $10,000 or more (and I bet there are more exceptions to be listed in the future), or if none of this makes sense…avoid outbound Spears and focus on your Seeds first and Nets second as the primary ways to grow your business.

If you’re one of those kinds of business, you can prospect with Spears but use the approach as a way to learn who your customers are/are not, and what they want / don’t want, but don’t expect it to generate a much profitable revenue.

Further Resources

Part 3: Specialize

For ANY kind of b2b lead generation program that involves people to succeed, and to maximize your sales growth, you MUST specialize your sales roles:

  • Inbound marketing requires “Market Response Reps” that can focus on the fast response and high-volume required of inbound leads.
  • Outbound prospecting will not work unless you have reps who are dedicated (at least 90%) to prospecting.
  • Customer Success won’t reach its potential until you have someone or people who’s job it is to help your customers succeed (don’t let them sink or swim after the sale).
  • if your Account Executive closers are juggling too many other responsibilities, they won’t be able to put their best focus on their pipeline of active prospects.

I don’t care if you have the most amazing lead generation ideas in the world, they won’t work without the right team structure in place!   Why do you think so many people complain about the “sales & marketing” divide?  Bridge it with the right people, in addition to the right process.

Exception: if you have a product that’s being sold with just one or two phone calls (a “one-call close”), then it can make sense to have one person fielding the lead and closing too.

Also, a big, big benefit in specialization is creating a career path for your people.  Your best people usually will be the ones you develop internally over time through this path, and it keeps the best ones interested and engaged.

For more details about these sales roles (Outbound, Inbound, Closer, Account Management), see Why Salespeople Shouldn’t Prospect or pages 39 and 133 in Predictable Revenue.

Also, we are creating a Guide: Specialize Your Sales Roles, to assist you, especially if you already have a sales team that’s generalized, and you want to figure out how to transition them.

When I mean specialize, I mean specialize.  Prospectors need focus to make it work.  Your prospectors should not close.  Your prospectors should not respond to inbound leads.  Your prospectors should not act as part-time telemarketers for marketing who want to fill their events.  Your prospectors should prospect (90% of their time/focus).

Further Helpful Resources

Part 4: Build An Outbound Prospecting Team & Develop Them Into Experts

Much of the detailed information you need to build a team has already been published.  Here’s a guide to navigating the published content, so you can find what you need in the right order.  But first, in case you missed this in the book…

Who Should Outbound Report To – Marketing Or Sales?

The outbound prospecting team should report into Sales, rather than Marketing.  Why?  Yes I know it’s lead generation, but the prospectors need to work very closely with the Account Executives, and the role should be part of the sales career path.  The exception: whoever is most passionate about making the team a success should own it – regardless of whether they’re in sales or marketing.

Ready To Build A Team, Or Get Buy In?

Warning – there is a lot of content, and may be overwhelming to you if you’re dabbling.  But if that’s the case, you won’t succeed anyway :)

Seriously, be prepared to go through all this in stages over several weeks or months.  The scope of it covers about the three months it takes to build a team from scratch and get them going.  Just make sure your executives buy into the value and vision of the team, so that if you hit snags they don’t quit too easily:

  1. Start Here: Why Salespeople Shouldn’t Prospect (opens new tab) – just in case you still haven’t read this…read it!
  2. Popular Case Study: Acquia On The $100 Million Revenue Trajectory ($100M Is “When”, Not “If”)
  3. Read Chapters 1-4: Download the first three chapters of the Predictable Revenue book - these chapters are the ones that focus on outbound prospecting, aka “Cold Calling 2.0″, providing the backstory at Salesforce.com and a lot of detailed “how to” information.
  4. Want Benchmarks, Or Need To Convince Your Executives?  Read Aaron, I Want To Copy What You Did At Salesforce.com, How Do I Do That? - this article gives you a lot of detail for your financial planning and expectations, around budgets, ROI, revenue, etc.  How much revenue should you expect?  That sort of thing, plus tips on helping sell the idea to your execs.
  5. Regular Revenue Takes 6-12 Months From Scratch: Have realistic expectations, if you’re building a team from scratch, expect it to take 6 months to be generating high quality sales opportunities consistently.  It can take another 1-6 months after that (6-12 total) to start seeing regular revenue coming in.  Here’s an excellent post by Devon McDonald at OpenView Partners on Realistic Expectations When Launching an Outbound Prospecting Team.
  6. How To Hire: A Neat Recruiting Process Used To Hire An Outbound Team - once you’re ready to hire, use the ideas in this approach, and read our private client guide: Predictable Revenue Guide To Hiring Great Prospectors.  Your first hires can make success very easy…or make it really hard.
  7. Prospector Compensation: Read this article on Quora about structuring their comp.
  8. Sales Force Automation / CRM / Salesforce.com: You can’t do this with Outlook and Excel, you NEED a sales automation system, though the tool you use isn’t as important as your process and people.  I recommend Salesforce.com, because it’s proven to work, most extra applications integrate with it, it’s a lot easier to hire people with experience using or managing it.  There are lots of interesting alternatives out there, and one may be better for you if you’re a small team or business; but if you’re getting ready to grow FAST, I haven’t seen anything better (yet).
  9. Video8 Simple Tips On Making Salesforce.com Easier To Use
  10. Three Training Videos: To view three detailed training videos we can share with you on how to Prepare, Prospect and Pattern, start here: Video #1. Prepare.

More Recommendations:

Territories: Prospectors (and salespeole) need some kind of focus: I always advise clients to assign geographic territories or an industry; also have different people focus on simple/small clients and others on more large/complex ones.  If you need help understanding why, read: Why Your Salespeople & Prospectors Need Territories.

Hiring Ratios: The ideal ratio of people is 1 prospector for every 1-to-3 salespeople, depending on how much extra pipeline your salespeople need.  A good prospector can easily overload a single salesperson.  When a prospector actively supports more than three salespeople, the quality of the working relationships and focus go down, and results suffer.  At Salesforce.com, one prospector supports four or five salespeople, but usually just three of them get the most love (for some reason, some salespeople don’t know or care about their prospectors – I don’t know why).

Initial Training / Onboarding: For your first hires, don’t just throw them on the phones after a few days.  Make sure they spend a lot of their time during the first month learning about your company, culture, products and customers.  They’ll be slower to start, but faster to ramp.

Mass-Emailing Apps: There are lots of ways (too many) to send campaigns of 50-250 outbound emails.  Salesforce.com Professional Edition has “Mass Email”, which may work for you – but test the deliverability.  We hear rumors that lots of email sent through Salesforce.com gets caught in spam filters.  Some companies use a Marketo or Hubspot to send mass outbound emails (yes, unsolicited ones).  Some send outbound campaigns email by email out of Outlook or gmail. Our #1 Recommended Email Tool right now is Tout.   Also keep an eye out for a Predictable Revenue Edition of Tout, where we can plug our templates in directly to your system every month.

Useful Prospecting Apps: If you use Gmail and Salesforce.com, we especially love Cirrus Insight (get it, ‘cloud insight’).  If you use gmail (and any kind of sales system, not just Salesforce.com), also check out Rapportive and Yesware.

Recommended List-Building Tool: SalesLoft, if you’re prospects are on LinkedIn.  Also see the WhatCounts case study for more about them.

Need Extra Data or Emailing Help?  If you need help either building your database and/or sending the initial emails, check out LeadGeni.us, especially if you’re not ready to hire a full-time person or want help building or cleaning your database of target contacts.  We’re usually skeptical of outsourced sales/prospecting services, but LeadGeni.us has been a client, and we know them and trust their work (LeadGeni.us is a past client, and we helped them pivot to this current niche).

If you want help navigating the content or where to go next, contact us.  Also reach out if you have suggestions for the best apps or other techniques to use that we should recommend!

Develop Your Outbound Team Into Experts

So you have your team started?  It’s an investment to build a proficient outbound team.  But if you can turn them into experts, you are golden…

  1. Detailed Case Study: With example funnels and everything… How Email Marketing Company WhatCounts Added an Extra 26% To Their New Sales Growth Rate In One Year
  2. Quality Over Quantity: Are you generating leads, but struggling with quality?   Read “Too Many Appointments Our Prospectors Set Up Are No-Show Or Not A Fit – How Do We Improve The Quality Of Appointments & Conversion Rates?”
  3. Go For Bigger Deals: The easiest way to increase revenue from a prospecting team is focus on finding bigger deals. Here are 7 Principles to Finding Bigger Deals.
  4. Detailed Case Study: Review this case study to hear what it sounds like in real life when a company puts the ideas to work: How Crunched Grew Pipeline 300% In 90 Days.
  5. Develop A Full-Time Manager: You will need a dedicated manager who’s good at coaching and at process to your outbound team.  Perhaps promote one of your prospectors who shows leadership.  It makes a tremendous difference.  They can learn some important management lessons from How Lou Ciniglia of TheLadders Turns His Sales Team Around From Struggling To Self-Managing.
  6. Learn “Mapping Calls”: One of the first techniques we teach clients is how to make “Mapping Calls” aka “Talk To The Right Person Calls”.  Check out A Friendly Kind Of Cold Call.  Especially work on this call if a) your emails just aren’t working, and b) your messaging is terrible.
  7. Refine Your Messaging: Look for the outbound coaching I give on messaging in this case study: How Digium Grew Pipeline by 400% in 12 Months.  Being able to describe yourself in simple terms to someone who doesn’t know you makes a big difference in whether they’ll be interested or not.  Also see the next Part, “Sell Ideas, Not Stuff.”
  8. Check Out The Q&A: The webinar in this post covers ‘old ground’ if you’ve gotten this far, but check out all the Cold Calling 2.0 Q&A!  “5 Steps To Creating A Lead Gen Machine & The Predictable Revenue That CEOs Love.” 

Part 5: Sell ideas, Not Stuff

How can you translate your marketing and sales messages into simple English, into ideas that your market cares about?

No matter what kind of lead generation program you’re running, you must get out of your jargon and communicate in ways that matter to your market.  Your mom will spend two hours listening to you ramble on about “network scalability social media APIs”, but prospects won’t give you thirty seconds.

YouTube Preview Image

Prospects who don’t know you are going to spend only a tiny amount of mental energy ‘figuring you out’ (if any), so the simpler and easier you can make it for them to understand what you’re trying to tell them, the more they’ll get intrigued.

Also, don’t get so caught up in a rush to throw a bunch of content or emails out there that you forget to spend the quiet time you need to make it insightful and effective:

  • Lots of quick blog posts gets you a lot more visitors, but what kinds of visitors are you getting?  
  • A certain vague or ‘tricky’ kind of email or voicemail template may get you a lot more responses…but what kinds of responses are you getting?
  • Yeah you ran an online social media campaign and got thousands of Likes, Followers or downloads…but so what?  What kind of person did you attract?

“Slow down to speed up”; keep trying and testing things, AND slow down long enough to pay close attention to the quality of the results you’re getting as well.

Need To Get It Right The First Time?

As you can see from the above, there’s a lot to learn in tripling your pipeline by building an expert outbound team.  If you need to get it right the first time, or don’t feel you have the internal experience or capacity to build it, read through our Consulting: How Can We Help You? page and then contact us to find out if we’d be a fit to help you.

Last Thoughts

Thank you for joining me here in this Guide.  We want to make it as easy to get in and learn and apply the ideas as we can, so if you have any requests or feedback, please contact us or leave a comment on this page.

Good luck!
Aaron_Ross_SIgnature

.

Orange subscribe box

Also See These Complementary Courses:

 

7 thoughts on “Guide: Triple Your Pipeline (v1.0)

  1. Kyle Porter

    Whoa. I’m still trying to absorb all this but I think you might have just created the condensed & definitive guide to the future of sales. I’m a fan of the fact that you don’t bash inbound & recognize the importance of referrals, happy customers and an easy to deploy/understand niche offering while also highlighting the necessity of spears.

    At http://salesloft.com, we started our inbound practice before we built a product. We’re now generating over 500 inbound leads monthly (14 months into the business, all unpaid). We found that before we had the product, investing in spears helped us understand our ideal customer, their needs, how they bought offerings like ours and feed the material we needed to succeed with inbound.

    Just as inbound grew based on our outbound, and spears benefit from a slew of content to direct customers toward. The best drip nurture recipients are “spear-sourced leads” and the best “drip carrots” are inbound content.

    As our offering reaches it’s position of market readiness, we’ll invest additionally in spears. I feel that the next generation of technology companies absolutely MUST do both: inbound and outbound…and that feeding off each-other is the only way to maximize growth.

    I’d love to see your next article go deeper on how spears, seeds, and nets work off each-other in harmony.

    Keep up the great influence you have on the industry. We’re huge fans.

    Reply
  2. Mark Organ

    I like the Seeds / Spears / Nets classification. Agreed that Seeds are the best leads, and it is possible to generate a lot more of those predictably through the use of an advocate program. Highly energized advocates also make outbound and inbound programs more effective. I think that the advocate program will be seen as the essential third pillar of a great B2B lead generation program, in addition to the blog/e-book and the marketing automation system.

    Mark Organ, CEO
    Influitive
    http://www.influitive.com

    Reply
  3. Abdallah Al-Hakim (@abdallahalhakim)

    A nice article that I enjoyed reading despite its length! The spears segmentation is very interesting and is another area where building an advocate army can be tremendously important. Getting your advocates to recommend prospect is a strong possibility if the right advocate nurturing program is in place

    Reply
  4. William Mougayar

    Great post and a lot of foundational elements in it. Couple of thoughts:

    1) Maybe I missed it, but how about the movements between the 3 segments, i.e. from Nets to Seeds to Spears, and sometimes back to nurturing. Or is this another topic?

    2) You said it without saying it. “The best way to grow Seeds is with a Customer Success Program – happier customers = more referrals and better testimonials and case studies….keep document why they success so that you publish better marketing content and also make it easier for future new customers to succeed.”

    That’s part of what an advocate marketing program would do. Basically, your best customers become your best sources for quality leads because most buyers like to talk to their peers before speaking to a sales person, and in many cases, they have already made-up their minds before interacting with the vendors.

    What do you think of the role of existing customers as a source of leads?

    Reply
  5. Ash

    If any of you still think that social media might be the way to go, after reading Ryan Holiday’s TRUST ME I’M LYING read B.J. Mendelson’s SOCIAL MEDIA IS BULLSHIT.

    Reply

Leave a Reply