Building a ‘Prospect Ecosystem’ or Sales Pipeline is essential for your business growth and success. It is an organised, visual way of tracking multiple buyers as they progress through different stages of the buyer’s journey. A process which ensures no potential opportunity is missed or is not managed properly. Both Sales and Marketing are responsible for creating and nurturing the ecosystem and both teams must work alongside each other to deliver the required results for business growth.
“The more control and visibility you have into your sales pipeline, the more revenue you'll bring in.” - HubSpot
Sales Enablement is Crucial for Pipeline Development...
Using effective Sales Enablement tools such as e-books, white papers, infographics, customer case studies and testimonials, helps to nurture and build relationships with prospects in the pipeline.
Building a Prospect Ecosystem for Success
So how do you build and manage an effective functioning Prospect Ecosystem or Sales Pipeline?
1. Firstly, you need a list of organisations which meet your target market. Identifying the correct data set is key - companies and contacts (prospects) who want to buy your product or service, think about how and why you could benefit their business.
3. Once you have connected with prospects using your strategic marketing messaging, some of your Buyer Personas will start to move down the funnel as they engage with your content, e.g. clicks on a ‘call to action’ to download a specific piece of content, or when a form is completed - these prospects then become Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs).
4. The next step is for these MQLs to become Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), this is where your Sales Enablement comes in. If your sales team are appropriately ‘armed’ with good content to nurture the MQL they will convert - conversion at this stage varies from business to business, it could be agreeing to a further call, or a face-to-face meeting. Every company has different measurements for what is classed as an SQL, but the sales team should be clear about their qualification criteria – BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing), or MEDDIC are both common frameworks used to identify SQLs – this is HubSpot’s Top 10 Sales Methodologies. There are times when a prospect might meet a few of the criteria but not all at this time - they will then will stay at this stage a little longer, or go back a stage to be ‘nurtured’ by marketing until they are ready to move forward.
5. Next stage in building your Prospect Ecosystem is…SQL to Sales Qualified Opportunity (SQO). If all the stages have been completed properly, by this point the prospect has been nurtured by both the Sales and Marketing teams. They have come through the Awareness stage with the first few messages from Marketing, moved into the Consideration stage when passed to Sales, and have confirmed they 'tick off' the boxes to be considered an opportunity - they are in the Decision stage.
6. Finally, when the prospect is fully aware of the product or service, why it can benefit them, have met all the qualification criteria and decide to sign on the dotted line, the SQO becomes a customer and you have the desired result.
Don’t forget to delight those customers and not let them slip away post-sales - make sure they receive excellent customer service and are kept up to date with your business via regular communications such as a newsletter. Referral and word of mouth is important for generating new business, you may also want to look at implementing a referral scheme.
The above process is not set in stone and must also be nurtured and constantly reviewed and optimised - there will always be room for improvement to encourage prospects to move further down each stage of the sales pipeline to convert them into customers. Having full visibility of how your prospects are engaging with your sales and marketing campaigns is crucial to enable you to measure what's working and what's not, and incorporate improvements. To help you do this, INCo can provide you with a completely free version of the world-class Sales, Marketing and CRM platform HubSpot - contact us to request your free version of HubSpot.
In summary, building a Prospect Ecosystem is crucial for growing a business - you need to:
- Identify and build the data set of companies and contacts/Buyer Personas you want to target.
- Develop your Go to Market (GTM) strategy and plan.
- Engage with your prospects regularly using quality content that attracts and engages them.
- Empower the Sales Team with this content to nurture and convert prospects.
- Review and optimise conversion rates at each point of the funnel and continually review the quality of your data.
- Ensure full visibility of all these activities - crucial to enable you to measure success and improve.
- Finally, delight your customers!