It’s no easy feat running a digital agency – especially when we’re about to enter a recession and each client is like a lifebuoy to your bottom line.
When in the grip of a recession, some clients may seek out new agencies to save themselves money. This may leave you scrambling to find new clients to stay afloat and get your bills paid.
Losing clients during a recession is unavoidable for the most part. But the good news is that you can acquire new clients by building your agency an effective sales pipeline.
A strategically built sales pipeline will help you to reach your revenue goals, streamline your sales cycle, boost your conversion rates, and keep your agency thriving. Even during tough times!
Here’s everything you need to know about building a digital agency sales pipeline to support your business’s growth while the economy’s in flux.
What is a Sales Pipeline?
Before we delve into the benefits and how-tos of building a robust sales pipeline, let’s get down to basics. Your sales pipeline is a visual representation of opportunities during different phases of your sales process. It tells you the number of deals you could make, and their prospective value.
Simply put, creating a strong sales pipeline will paint you a clear picture of exactly how successful your sales efforts are, and where they can and should be improved. When you track your business’s progress through the stages of your sales pipeline, you can assess the average length of each sale cycle and come up with creative new ways to streamline and optimise it.
Once you’ve figured out the key stages of your pipeline, the next step is to fill it up. The more sales opportunities you encounter, the more leads you will be able to convert into customers – and the more sales you’ll make as a result.
The 5 Key Steps to Building Your Pipeline
#1: Identify Your Ideal Customers
Your first step in building a resilient sales pipeline is to gather your sales team and put your heads together to create a list of potential clients. The traits and pain points of your target clients that make them a good match for your business will then become the characteristics of your ideal customer – a blueprint that will allow you to find new clients with a high conversion potential.
Remember that these prospective clients need to be categorised in the right deal stages based on how familiar they are with your services. For example, when a potential client contacts you to find out more about what you offer, they’re in the so-called interaction phase. Compartmentalising your leads this way helps you interact with them effectively while maximising their chances of being converted.
#2: Take Advantage of CRM Tools
Customer relationship management (CRM) tools are a must-have weapon in every digital agency’s arsenal. You can use CRM software to gather and organise information on your existing clients and new leads, including valuable data like touchpoints, current status, and contact information. CRM software will help you to visualise precisely where each lead is in the sales process by allowing you to create your own, customised pipeline.
CRM gives you a full picture of what opportunities are available to your agency and what you must do to push each deal into the next stage of the sales funnel. It’s an easy, fuss-free, automated way of ensuring you achieve as many conversions as possible.
#3: Set Revenue Targets
According to Soma Metrics, some of the primary reasons why businesses miss their revenue targets include not setting targets, not having a robust sales pipeline, and failing to create a sales process and pipeline of the right size to facilitate growth.
The reality is that if you don’t know what revenue targets you want to hit, or even if you do set targets but they aren’t strategically identified, your agency could fall short.
The key to success here is setting valid targets based in real, accurate data. Analyse your revenues, products, and sales pipeline carefully to find out what’s possible for your business. Then, set different targets for your existing customer base and new customers.
#4: Build Relationships with Potential Clients
No potential client ever looks forward to robotic, scripted interactions with your sales team members. They want authenticity, honesty, and a genuine human connection. The best salespeople are those who can build strong, authentic relationships. This is essential when creating a digital agency sales pipeline too.
Your sales team needs to research prospective clients, find out more about them, and help them to create genuine value through their interactions. Using engaging media like video is another fantastic way to build human relationships while you prospect. A brief video introduction will immediately give you the edge over competitors using outdated email signoffs to introduce themselves to leads.
#5: Follow Up with Cold Leads
Following up with cold leads is crucial to moving them along your sales pipeline and converting them into clients. These leads may not be interested in your services yet. But, as they’re in your pipeline already, you still have a chance to convert them. As long as you play your cards right!
There are many ways to follow up with cold leads, including phone calls from your marketing team, cold emails, and social media outreach. However, the trick is to avoid being invasive. Methods like cold calling can quickly put leads off. Personalised cold email outreach is less invasive and annoying, but it can be more challenging. You should never buy email lists to contact cold leads – it’s illegal in some jurisdictions and considered spam in many others.
Personalised outreach through inbound lead generation tools is often your best bet. These tools can generate quality leads based on industry, location, company or client size, and other specific requirements. Many tools also boast progress tracking features that help you to visualise the sales funnel stage that each of your leads occupies.
Refining Your Strategy
Building an agency sales pipeline isn’t a one-and-done affair.
You need to assess your progress, check your conversion rates, identify how often you’re closing deals with your target clients, and use this information to adjust and improve your strategy on a regular basis (we recommend monthly).
If you notice that your pipeline is getting clogged in certain areas, your lead generating strategies aren’t working according to plan, or your customers have some less-than-optimal feedback about your approaches, go back to the drawing board immediately. A flexible approach to maximising your revenues and growth over time will always benefit your pipeline.