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5 Smarter Ways to Build a Sales Pipeline

3 min readSeptember 11, 2019

Your sales pipeline is the fuel line that powers your sales process and turns leads into revenue. A pipeline typically consists of stages that sales prospects advance through as they become a customer. Beginning with your marketing team, your sales pipeline delivers contacts from your marketing team to sales development reps, who turn them into qualified leads. The pipeline then carries the leads to your account executives who turn them into revenue.

Naturally, not every contact who enters the pipeline exits as a customer, and many are filtered out along the way. That’s why your company needs a healthy number of contacts that enter the top of the funnel and remain throughout the process.

In today’s sales environment, there are more strategies and sources to fill your sales pipeline than ever before. This means that nearly anyone can open the taps and flood their teams with contacts, but that’s not the best way. A sales team can drown in unqualified contacts that waste their time and take attention away from qualified leads who are ready to purchase. Fortunately, there is a smarter way. We compiled five tips to help fill your sales pipeline with the right contacts so your team doesn’t get overwhelmed, and you can make the most of their time.

Filter your sales pipeline from the top

There’s no good reason to have an unqualified contact in your sales pipeline. Disqualified leads drain time, energy, and resources from your sales team that should be spent on true potential buyers. For your sales team to be as efficient, productive, and effective as possible, you must filter out unqualified leads from the start.

You can do this by working with your marketing team to create content that mentions your minimum requirements, or use automated emails or chatbots to ask questions after content downloads. If you filter unqualified contacts from the beginning, you allow your reps to better focus on creating meaningful interactions with the contacts that can purchase.

Automate the first interactions

While there are still sales communications that should be done personally, at the top of a funnel there are far too many interactions happening to be feasible at scale. Therefore, you should use automation tools to help send engaging, semi-personalized content to the large number of contacts within the initial stages of your sales process. As the contacts advance further down your pipeline and become more engaged, taper off your automation and introduce personalized engagements from your sales team.

Align content with sales pipeline stage

One of the most effective ways to move prospects through your sales pipeline is to align marketing and sales generated content with the stage of the sales processes.

Work with marketing to create content like whitepapers, blogs, videos, or infographics that address questions that prospects will ask in each stage of your sales process. Your reps can send them this content as they complete certain milestones like discovery calls, demos, etc.

Separate inbound and outbound

Inbound and outbound leads should be handled differently. Inbound leads typically have higher purchase intent, and typically have some sort of marketing spend attached to them, making them more expensive.

Inbound leads also likely have done initial research on your products and services, and are somewhat familiar with your company. To capitalize on their higher interest, familiarity, and capture ROI on advertising dollars, many sales teams choose to dedicate reps specifically to inbound leads. These reps are typically more experienced and are equipped to address the questions and needs that inbound leads typically have.

Give marketing real-time feedback

Both sales and marketing teams should be responsible for filling the top of your organization’s pipeline, but sales is the only team that engages the contacts within it. Therefore, sales must provide regular feedback to marketing on the quality of the leads within the pipeline, the conversations they have, and the overall health of funnel.

Call recordings and conversation analysis are incredibly useful for sales and marketing alignment. Marketing can “self-serve” and check in on sales calls see if the leads they generate good conversations and meet buying requirements. They can also listen to calls gathered from different sources to see which channels generate the best leads.