Keeping track of what’s going on in your sales pipeline is critical.
Your pipeline gives you an inside look at how your sales process is performing, and whether or not improvements need to be made.
Unfortunately, prospects can get lost in the shuffle or end up becoming inactive. So what should you do when you find that leads are dropping off or getting stuck? We've compiled some effective lead management strategies that can get your pipeline flowing again. But first...
What causes leads to get stuck in a sales pipeline?
Before taking action, the first thing you need to do is understand why leads are getting stuck in the first place. When you do a bit of digging, you’ll likely be able to link inactive leads to a few specific causes.
Not reaching the right person
If you don’t have the right contact information for the decision-maker at a company, you won’t be able to make a sale. Alternatively, a prospect may enter an email address that they don’t use very often when they fill out a form on your site. This is a problem in both cases because your message isn’t getting in front of the people who need to see it. Take a look at the bounce rates for your emails. If they're high, that's one indicator that you aren’t selling to the right person (or anyone at all).
There’s a problem with your product/service
Another reason why a lead might be stuck is that they are having trouble using your solution, or they think it’s too expensive when compared to similar options. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to find and fix any issues that are within your control. While you won’t be able to please every prospect, making the right changes can have a great impact on your bottom line. For example, if you’re finding that a lot of users abandon the account creation process on your site, do your best to reduce friction at that step.
Your buyer isn’t ready yet
It might be that your prospect isn’t sure that they want to make a change and adopt your solution. The majority of people won’t be ready to buy the minute they enter your pipeline. As a result, you have to focus on nurturing and education during your early pipeline stages. Not doing so can leave some prospects hanging without the confidence to make a purchase. You can increase the chances of making a sale by being helpful and relevant.
Lead management tips to get prospects moving
Once you know what’s getting your prospects stuck, you’re faced with another challenge: How do you remove those snags and advance them through your pipeline?
The good news is that when you put the right lead management tactics into action, you can get those leads moving forward again. Here are a few tips we recommend:
1. Sharpen up your communication strategy
What's your strategy for communicating with prospects in the different stages of your pipeline? Sending out an email blast to every person on your list once a month isn’t going to cut it if you want to steadily encourage prospects toward a purchase.
First, think about your sales process and what your leads need at every stage. Then, segment those leads into different lists. You should have a strategy that speaks to your leads’ curiosity, concerns, and pain points.
According to MailChimp, segmentation is a major factor in any email marketing campaign’s success. They found that campaigns with segmented lists got 100% more clicks when compared to non-segmented campaigns. More clicks = more sales.
2. Get to know your leads better
Are your prospects casually considering a product/service like yours or are they in urgent need of a solution? If leads are stuck in your pipeline, it might be that they don’t need your product or service yet. Maybe they can’t decide if your solution is a good investment for their needs. Knowing this allows you to nurture them properly.
Understanding where your leads are in the buyer's journey helps you market to them more effectively. You can find out what your leads are thinking by asking them to reply to an email or by sending out a survey. For all new leads, you might want to consider setting up a questionnaire so you can easily collect more information about them and their business.
3. Look for stalled stages
Are lots of leads getting stuck in one stage of your pipeline? If so, re-evaluate that stage of your sales process. To understand how to fix these stalled stages, you need to think about two things: what’s happening, and what should be happening.
What are your specific goals for each stage in your sales process? How close are you or your prospects coming to meeting these goals? What can you do to make it easier for your leads to move to the next step or make a decision?
4. Offer help
If you determine a lead is having trouble making a decision or getting buy-in from their company, what can you do to help? What can you give your leads to establish more trust? You could offer a free e-book, trial, consultation, coupon code, or other resources. An important thing to remember is that a good offer is valuable to your audience. It should also be made available to the right buyer at the right time.
Again, the key here is making sure that your contact list is segmented properly. You don’t want to send a guide explaining why your type of service is important to a lead who is already in the decision stage of the buyer's journey.
5. Create urgency
If your prospect is not feeling an urgent need to make a purchase, set an expiration date or offer a discount. According to a report by Experian, adding urgency to your email marketing efforts can increase open rates by 14%, click-through rates by 59%, and double the number of completed transactions. To make the most of urgency in your emails, include the offer and the time limit in your subject line.
Note: Be cautious when using this strategy. If you’re going to create urgency, make sure that it’s based on something real. Claiming that a trial offer will be available for one day only but keeping it up for weeks is a quick way to lose credibility.
6. Ask questions
Can’t get a lead to close the deal? Start listening. Ask them questions so that you can understand their issue or hesitation. If you ask your prospect a question that will engage them, you have a good chance that they’ll reply. Then, you’ll gain insight on exactly what’s holding them back. This is another good opportunity to use a survey or send an email with a short and specific question. Send something that your leads can answer in just a few minutes.
Solving this issue isn’t as complicated as it seems. The key to keeping leads moving through your pipeline is understanding what's holding them back, and making sure your sales process is set up to support them, not just you. If you’re struggling to get prospects to move through your pipeline, consider this: What can you do to gain more insight into what your leads need?
Ready to take control of your sales pipeline? Learn more about how Nutshell's powerful pipeline management features can help you get the right message to your leads at the right time. Start a free 14-day trial today!