Your sales pipeline consists of all of your customers and potential customers. Someone enters the pipeline as a lead and the goal is to move them all the way to the last stop of the pipeline – a loyal customer. So how do you build the pipeline for generating revenue?
Begin with a clear understanding of the market that you are targeting. This should include extensive market research as well as analysis of previous marketing campaigns.
Your potential customers are making purchases to fill a need or fix a problem that they have. Once you can discern what those needs or problems are, you are in a better position to market your product or service as the solution.
This is where a close and realistic examination of your present products and services comes into play. What features do your products or services have that will meet the needs of your target audience? Focus on the benefits that those features will result in for your customers. Consumers are shelling out money. They have a right to ask, “What’s in it for me?”
Once you have told the consumer that your product or service is going to solve their problem or fill their need, you need to build their confidence. Prove that you can follow through. A lot is involved in this. It’s why branding is so important. Testimonials, positive reviews, and recommendations from friends and family (often via social network posts) are vital at this stage. Becoming a household name lets consumers associate your brand with the solution to their problem.
Businesses are always talking about ROI. But even though they may not use the acronym, getting a good return on their investments is on the mind of consumers as well. They want to know that when they later evaluate their purchase, they will feel that it was money well spent. This often results in repeat business which can lead to brand loyalty and builds a competitive advantage over competitors.
When a customer has never dealt with your company, one of the best ways to convince them that your product or service is the best is to offer them a guarantee. If you tell someone that if they are not satisfied they can have their money back, that builds confidence in the audience and forms an effective part of your marketing plan.
At some point, there needs to be a call to action. You need to ask your potential consumer to make the purchase. Give them a website to go to, a number to call, or a store location and invite them to buy the product or service that they need from you. No one likes a hard sell, but a passive-aggressive sale can sometimes be worse as it turns your marketing into more of a public service announcement.
Once your pipeline is well developed, you can be confident in your business’s ability to funnel leads down to the end. Remember to track each lead’s progress along the way, so that you can focus on your loyal customers and reward them appropriately.