Where do we start? How do we build a sales pipeline robust enough to hit our quota when we’ve nothing but a blank pad of paper, an empty contact list, and a fresh inbox? In this series, we’ll look at how to build a sales pipeline from scratch, using the most modern digital tools and techniques at an individual level.
Part 2: The Sales Technology Stack
When we talk about sales technology, one of the most critical mistakes is we start buying tools because we think we’re supposed to have them, or we follow a best practices guidelines that’s suitable for an organizational level and not a personal level. Whether you are a one-person show or a member of a sales organizational monolith, when it comes to the tools we need to sell effectively, we should instead start with the way people buy.
The Buyer’s Journey to Purchase
Let’s begin with the generic customer journey, as shown here from McKinsey & Company:
Something triggers a need to search for a solution in our prospective buyers. That trigger could be reactive, such as an existing product or service breaking. The trigger could also be proactive, where a sales or marketing professional reaches out to the prospect and highlights a potential or actual problem that doesn’t currently have a solution.
Once triggered, our prospective buyer goes in search of potential solutions. They check their own mental inventory as well as word of mouth and referrals for which companies they are aware of that can solve their problem.
After a buyer has become aware of potential solutions in the marketplace, they begin consideration and evaluation. Whose products or services best fit their needs? Who should they talk to, who should they get a demo from, should they visit to see a model in a showroom?
Finally, after a period of consideration and evaluation that can take anywhere from seconds to years, the buyer makes a purchase.
If we focus on this journey to purchase, we have a model for what kinds of infrastructure and technology we need to be as effective as possible in selling to the buyer.
Let’s consider the technologies available to the average salesperson. Again, this applies at a personal level, as opposed to an institutional or organizational level:
- Self-serve digital advertising
- Social media
- Email marketing
With this list, let’s map them to the buyer’s journey. What technologies go where?
Here’s an important caveat: each technology isn’t locked into a specific place in the buyer’s journey. Social media tends to be most useful in building awareness, but that doesn’t mean it’s only useful for awareness. Social media absolutely helps build a relationship and thus can be a part of consideration and evaluation as well. The same is true for all the other technologies; I’ve placed them where they typically have greatest impact for an individual salesperson, but depending on our level of skill, they may be useful in many places. Use this chart above as a starting point, not a set-in-stone plan.
Next: Methods for Building Triggers
With this map in hand, in the next post in this series, we’ll look at how an individual salesperson should start building triggers to stimulate a buyer’s interest.
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