In any SaaS or B2B company, a lot of work needs to be done on the sales end. As we know, the entire business model revolves around finding clients and closing deals, i.e., getting a client to commit to the service(s) offered. This is the pipeline that needs to be managed and integrated in a way that can optimize the sales for the company.
Mr. Krishna first goes about the problem that the current sales funnel has and then goes over his views on how to optimize the overall performance of the team.
The modern sales pipeline
Here is how a typical modern sales funnel looks like:
The awareness means the conversion from a prospect to MQL (Marketing qualified lead). Education is the conversion of the MQL to SQL (Sales qualified lead). And finally, the selection means getting the customer to buy the product or service. But Mr. Krishna points out that the sales job doesn’t necessarily end here. There are three more steps to be added to a modern sales pipeline. This model is also known as the Bow-tie model. The additional steps are as follows:
Onboarding means getting the first sale once the customer commits. From there, the use phase defines the ARR (Annual recurring revenue) for the company through that particular customer. Finally, go for expansion. It could be in two parts. One is getting an LTV (Lifetime Value) from the customer, as well as market through the customer experience. Like Mr. Krishna quotes, rather than you telling people about what you do, it is better to get a customer to talk about their experience while using your services.
Optimizing the pipeline
As Mr. Krishna points out, it all starts with getting quality prospects. Many times, in any sales team, the emphasis is put on the number of leads they get rather than the quality. It is important to first change that mindset. Additionally, steps should be taken in optimizing the signups. For example, the SEO of the website to make sure the right audience is visiting the site, the quality of experience, etc. The bottom line is to get a good trade-off between quality and quantity.
The next step will be the conversion of MQLs to SQLs. It is the path that needs to be cleared to get better growth. It is necessary to automate some of the processes during this conversion. Mr. Krishna gives an example of an automated signup mail followed by a product listing mail and then setting up a meeting. It is crucial to close this down quickly. Sometimes the gap is too big, and that makes the drop in conversions. Hence, the more the pipeline is automated, the better. The method has proven effective in increasing the MQL to SQL conversions from 30 per cent to 46 per cent.
The final part of till closure is the one where most of the real work happens. Here the sales team gets in and tries to close the leads provided by the marketing teams. Now for a successful closure, the sales team must know about the customer. The framework used for this is the BANT framework. Here is what it means:
· B (Budget): Know the pricing suitable for the customer.
· A (Authority): To know who is the one with the authority to make the purchase.
· N (Need): To know what is the exact need of the customer so that the pitch can be re-framed in that direction.
· T (Timeline): To fix a timeline for a meeting or a call.
Now in this stage, there can be three types of leads, as discussed by Mr. Krishna. How do you decide which lead to pursue first? The significance is decided by an SQL score. If the score is, for example, more than 70, it is a hot lead. If the score is between 40-70, it is a warm lead. And if it is less than 40, it should be dropped for now as a lot of nurturing is required to get it to a good point. But the most revenue is lost when people do not pursue dormant leads.
For example, if the product is pitched to a CXO of a company and he/she says, “I do want to buy the product or service, but right now I am busy, let us contact after a month or so”. Although the lead didn’t convert at that time, the conversion is still possible. And these leads are known as dormant leads. They need some time and can be activated later.
As discussed, the pipeline has a lot of steps, and each step has its optimization possibilities. Once the sales and marketing team starts working in harmony, and the tweaks mentioned above are followed, the growth would be quite visible. It is why pipeline management is the secret weapon for growth.