How does your pipeline look these days? Are you confident there is enough quality opportunity in it to reach your goals? Regardless of the time of year, keeping the pipeline flowing is necessary. As soon as you stop, there will likely be a three-month lag.
There are times of the year, fourth quarter in particular, when this is challenging. But you can’t take a complete pass. You must keep something going.
Prospecting is a problem
We survey readers on our website, asking them what their biggest agency challenges are, and 45% of respondents say it’s the pipeline.
Filling that pipeline will happen in two ways: prospecting or marketing. When we break out the detail in our reader survey, we see that you also know this. 45% who note the pipeline as the biggest challenge is split between Filling the Pipeline (25%) or Marketing to Attract New Prospects (21%).
This isn’t a discussion about marketing vs. prospecting. You need to do both.
Marketing and prospecting go together like peanut butter and jelly
Prospecting activities are intended to be pipeline fillers. Some can have immediate results. Cold calling and asking for introductions from clients or centers of influence are great ways to talk to people right away.
Many other surrounding activities help boost the overall prospecting efforts but don’t necessarily get people in the door today. Things like cold emailing, reaching out on LinkedIn, direct mailing efforts and networking events contribute to prospecting momentum.
Prospecting is challenging work. 💯 It takes a lot of consistent and often uncomfortable effort to put yourself in front of people and strike up conversations they aren’t expecting or ready to have. But, as a salesperson, you’ve done this your whole career, and you know it works, even if you may not enjoy it.
Marketing is a lot of behind-the-desk activity and doesn’t create the personal discomfort that prospecting does. The challenge with marketing is that it’s a long game for developing leads and nurturing them to the point they’re ready to talk with you. Your marketing activities include posting to LinkedIn, posting to your company's LinkedIn page, writing articles, hosting events, buying ads, creating videos, and joining podcasts.
All the marketing activity is fantastic for allowing your audience to learn about you and your company, how you think, and what your client experience will be. It’s indispensable for connecting with buyers and nurturing them along the buyer’s journey. But that activity won’t turn into overnight prospects.
This is where having a combination of prospecting and marketing becomes essential.
The purpose of marketing is to communicate your value proposition in a compelling way so potential clients want to have a conversation with your salespeople to learn more. This makes marketing the beginning of the sales conversation.
So even if you have some slow time in prospecting, keeping up with quality, consistent marketing will help smooth out the peaks and valleys. Marketing is your ultimate salesperson, working for you all hours of the day or night. Put it to work for you!
Bridging the gap
Finding a marketing and sales nirvana is possible. However, I can’t say how much time it will take to get there because that depends on the quality and quantity of your activity and how targeted it is to your buyers’ needs. Following are two fundamental marketing ideas you need to master to create this nirvana and drive sales results.
1) Create core messaging for your website and sales conversations
Business-to-business buying decisions are heavily influenced by what buyers read and watch online, so a robust online presence is imperative for capturing buyer attention. Your website must entice your target buyers and encourage them to stick around, learn more, and take action.
To create this website experience, dig into your knowledge base and develop educational content and social proof that allows your readers to begin seeing you as a potential advisor. Ask yourself:
- What are my clients most challenged by?
- How are we able to help them with those challenges and needs?
Both your website and your sales process should center around the answers. Prospects and clients need to hear the repetition of the message and see the continuity between what you share online and what you say. If not, the message becomes lip service, and you end up with a messy brand that lacks credibility. Choose your messaging and use it on repeat.
2) Extend your message
Marketing should not be considered a stand-alone function, nor should any individual marketing activity be considered a functional marketing program. Good marketing integrates various mediums and tactics to share your educational message with your ideal audience. And be prepared; just once is not enough. It typically requires repeated attempts at a similar message to see buyers taking those small steps of interaction.
With a collective marketing approach, it can become the fuel to influence your prospecting and fill your pipeline consistently with qualified prospects. But the longer you take to get started with a fully functioning, robust marketing effort, the longer it will take to return the dividends you’re looking for.
Only committing to a website or one-off activities makes marketing an expense.
Developing a comprehensive, quality program and consistently executing it will turn marketing into an investment in your pipeline.
Make marketing an essential function in your firm and give it the level of importance and authority that will allow it to be a core driver of your sales efforts. Plan out your marketing by using our Agency Marketing Annual Plan down below.
Content provided by Q4intelligence and partners
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