Salespeople are constantly looking for ways to generate more pipeline and close more deals. However, very few understand what a healthy pipeline even means, let alone how to look for quality leads in the right places using the right tools.
I’m Blaise Bevilacqua, and as a full-cycle Enterprise Account Executive (AE) at UserGems, I own all stages of the sales cycle — from the initial email or call to closing the deal. That means I know exactly what goes into acquiring quality leads and closing them fast.
In this article, I’ll share the pipeline generation strategies I’ve seen work and the tools you can use to shorten your deal cycle and reduce pipeline anxiety.
What is a pipeline generation strategy?
A pipeline generation strategy is a process of generating awareness and interest in your product or service to attract a steady stream of potentially qualified leads who are ready to buy from you.
In most organizations, leadership teams equate pipeline strategy to making salespeople prospect like crazy for as many leads as possible.
For instance, when I started as an SDR in 2017, I’d send out 500 emails every day and get 50 responses in return. Out of the 50 who responded, only 3 would ask for demos.
Intuitively, I knew it wouldn’t be sustainable in the long run because it was the old spray-and-pray tactic.
So, I asked myself: How can I get more quality prospects through my pipeline without increasing the number of leads I’m prospecting?
The answer lies in changing the definition of your pipeline generation strategy to a strategic approach that brings quality leads instead of quantity leads. There are many pipeline generation strategies, but to get qualified leads, you’ll need to use the ones with a proven track record for success.
3 pipeline generation strategies to close more deals
Pipeline generation is an essential part of every B2B sales strategy. But it'll fall flat if you don't use the right tactics.
Here’s what we do at UserGems to grow a robust sales pipeline, shorten the sales pipeline, and close deals faster.
1. Leverage sales triggers
Sales triggers are events that activate change in an organization. They can be internal or external. But both triggers give you an opportunity to get your foot in the door and acquaint your prospect with your product. Here are some of the sales triggers you should watch for:
- Mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships: When these sales triggers happen, they usually prompt organizations to re-evaluate existing solutions due to changes in organizational requirements. This gives you an opportunity to swoop in with your product.
- New leadership: When new executives are onboarded into an organization, they’re expected to deliver results as quickly as possible, so there’s room for change which you can use to your advantage.
- Financial announcements: If an organization has achieved significant revenue growth or announced an expansion, they’re definitely looking to spend more money to achieve bigger goals and keep the momentum going.
- Job changes: Customer job change triggers are my favorite because they give you the chance to approach the new opportunity using a bottom-up strategy. If you’ve already won over your customers once, why not have them champion your product again at their next company?
- Market challenges: This encompasses everything from changing customer demographics and economic turbulence to competitive activities and other factors that can positively or negatively impact the chances of an organization’s success.
- Legal/Compliance: If governmental regulations change overnight, it will prompt the organization to make changes right away.
With all this information in your hands, think about how each trigger will impact the organization and how you can use the impact to create a point of entry and pitch your product to the prospect.
2. Create a Mutual Action Plan (MAP)
With multiple stakeholders, selling often becomes challenging as champions must get buy-in from more than one decision-maker before committing to a product.
This shift in buying mindset means buyers need you to tell them exactly how their product will address all their pain points and deliver the ROI they expect. This is where a MAP comes in.
A MAP is a document that outlines all the crucial steps and milestones the prospects must reach to complete the buying process and start seeing results. Here’s what it looks like:
You can create a MAP with your prospect to address all their concerns effectively. Then, they can share this with the other stakeholders so everyone can arrive at a consensus together — making the purchase decision faster.
Let’s say the legal team requires the product to adhere to certain standards or requirements. You can add a meeting with them as an action item on your MAP to demonstrate how your product satisfies the requirements.
In short, creating MAPs and adhering to them makes buying a collaborative process and helps you take the deal to the finish line with ease.
3. Do effective cold outreach
Cold outreach isn’t dead. It’s still one of the best pipeline generation strategies out there if you know how to do it right.
Take cold calling, for instance. Roughly a quarter of my pipeline comes from hitting the phones. I make about 250 calls per week to hit my target. Here’s my secret sauce to getting prospects to pay attention to what you’re selling:
- Get in the right mindset: I’ve found that the best way to deal with the fear of rejection is to remind myself that I’m calling to add value and not sell. Some will hang up (and that’s okay, it happens), so rejection is inevitable. However, it isn’t the end of the world. This takes the pressure off me and allows me to focus on what’s important: building a relationship with the prospect and helping them get results.
- Do some research before meeting your prospects: I hear what you’re saying: “if I spend an hour researching my prospect and they reject me, that’s one hour wasted.” You’re right. That’s why you should do some quick research to identify the problems your buyer is going through right now and think about how your product can solve them. Before I get on a call with a prospect, I use press releases and updates to find trigger events such as new hire announcements; I go through LinkedIn posts, the company's LinkedIn page, and the website to get a sense of the problems the prospect faces (this helps me find an angle to get them to listen to what I say). The best part is that this research won’t take you more than 15 minutes; it helps you strike a chord with the customer and will get the sales conversation started.
- Ask a question that prompts an answer: This is a tip I learned from LinkedIn Top Sales Voice Morgan J. Ingram. He gives a simple template to prompt a response from your prospect right after introducing yourself. “I’m helping X companies do Y with their Z. What are you doing right now for Z?” The answer should give you more information you can use to build a relationship with the prospect.
If you’re still not a fan of cold calling, you can always send a cold email or cold DM your prospect on LinkedIn instead.
Again, the key to getting your prospect to care about what you’ve got to sell is to start by looking at the problems they want to solve in their organization.
If your message starts with “We at X company do ABC,” it’s getting marked as spam right away.
To avoid falling into this trap and get your prospect interested in your product or service, you should take a more personalized approach.
Personalization is the most effective lead generation strategy in today's world of business development and sales. And there are probably many people out there who’d disagree. But I’m sticking to my guns here.
Of course, you need other aspects to gauge people’s interest, such as following up, multi-channel touch points, and providing value with each message.
But the main thing here is to BE HUMAN!
We have 3 seconds to gauge interest, so your message should start like so:
This email was inspired by Kyle Coleman’s (he’s the SVP of Marketing at Clari) template, and it helped me land a demo with the prospect right away because of the personal touch.
Will this type of approach take more time?
Yes. But it’s way more human, leads to more meaningful conversations, and you’ll end up with more top-of-funnel convos to motivate you to keep the intentional outreach going.
Top lead generation tools for account executives
Your pipeline generation activities are incomplete without the right lead generation tools. Almost everyone uses them. However, the key is finding the ones that can automate pipeline generation so that you can focus on closing more deals.
Here are some tools I personally recommend:
UserGems is the best B2B prospecting tool I’ve ever seen in years, and I’m not saying this just because I’m a part of the team. We drink our own champagne here, and whenever a customer of ours leaves to join a new company, each account executive gets a notification with all their latest contact info in our CRM, which then triggers an automated outreach message. So far, these outreach messages have an 89% open rate and 29% response rate (incredible ROI if you ask me).
If we’re starting with a new contact, we’ll use UserGem’s Meeting Assistant to automatically enrich our Salesforce CRM with the prospect’s contact details. We also get email updates about who we’ll meet and if someone from our organization has already met them. This cuts back on time spent prepping before each meeting and allows us to automate lead generation.
When contacts switch jobs or get promoted, we get email updates with their new title, company, and email address. Since they already know our tool, they’ll be 3x more likely to purchase it.
I use Outreach to send automated emails to the prospects that UserGems identifies and gather insights from all the interactions I have with my clients to understand what I can do to move through deals faster. Apart from this, it also helps streamline my workflow and gives me playbooks to optimize pipeline generation email sequences.
With ConnectAndSell, I can upload a list of 100 contacts and get through 50 dials in 20 minutes just by pressing the “Go” button. All the information I need for the call is on the screen because the tool syncs with our CRM tool and makes it easy for me to start a conversation. After the call is over, I can look at the call statistics and listen to recordings to assess how it went and learn where I can improve.
Boosting your lead generation plan with closing techniques
Creating a pipeline and converting prospects into customers in the shortest time possible isn’t easy.
However, these pipeline generation strategies and tools should help you create an entry point, streamline the buying process, and seal the deal with prospects faster.
UserGems is a good place to start as it allows you to track job changes and connect with customers who can already vouch for your product at the new organization, which increases the chances of closing a sale.
If you’re looking to dive deeper into the nitty gritty, I’d be happy to answer any questions over a Zoom coffee. Hit me up, folks! (firstname.lastname@example.org)