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6 Proven Strategies to Close In-Pipeline Leads

Strategies to Close In-Pipeline Leads

In-pipeline leads are prospects that you’ve made a sales connection with, but for some reason, are yet to go all the way down to the bottom of the funnel to qualify as closed leads.

How do you speed up your funnel to reduce the time from prospect to closed deal? Or what do you do when in-pipeline leads grow cold and get undecided about your value proposition?

As much as 56% of leads can go cold over a 90-day period. So ignoring your cold, undecided, and sluggish leads not only makes your funnel inefficient, but decreases your chances of consistently seeing measurable results. In this article, we've detailed six proven strategies that will help you supercharge your sales game by moving your in-pipeline leads down the funnel faster.

1. Identify Your Prospects’ Challenges and Pain Points

Truth be told, everyone’s hurting  - from the local grocery store that wants to see more customers walk through their doors, to the startup founder who’s trying to improve conversion rate for his SaaS tool - everyone everywhere has problems that they’re looking to get solved.

While this may seem opportunistic, problems are your opportunity to get recognized and compensated for the solutions you offer. People are ready to get sold and spend - once they’re convinced that YOUR solution is THEIR solution.

But before you get started offering your prospects solutions to their problems, identifying and properly defining their problem is critical. This helps you to determine what’s working, what’s wrong, and how exactly to fix it, instead of taking a costly try-and-see exercise - which more often than not, ends badly.

As easy as it sounds, situation analysis is quite complex and requires considerable effort, given that you have to:

1 .

Study the situation to appropriately diagnose and simplify the scenario. If you're targeting a huge bracket of prospects, pick a bunch of ideal subjects from your collection and then drill deep into their systems. Actively watch to see any areas of friction since those are major pointers to crises origins.

2 .

Niche down the situation. Consider a local retailer that’s trying to find out why their website isn’t attracting clients and how to turn that around. Of course, several factors from poor search rankings to unattractive user experience could contribute to a website not driving conversions. So the smart thing to do would be to isolate a specific problem and focus on it.

Dentists are doctors, but they don't treat skin conditions. Also, it'd be a big joke to expect your dietician to give you career advice. Likewise, it's paramount that once you've stripped down a client's problem to the nuts and bolts that you focus on your specific/unique value proposition, knowing that you can't help everyone and that you also can't do everything for those you can help. Not only does this make you look more authoritative, but it helps to set realistic expectations for what clients are to eventually expect.

A big part of sales is convincing your prospects that what you have to offer is actually the solution they're seeking. In-depth prospect analysis ensures that you speak your customers' language along the sales cycle, guaranteeing you a shorter sales cycle and more closed deals.

2. Leverage Your Credibility and Authority

People lie; data doesn’t.

Let's face it. We live in a world of self-proclaimed 'gurus' where everyone and their grandmas are all hosting webinars that teach you how to triple your income 10 days. Consequentially, buyers have grown increasingly cautious and now require more than just a fancy rags-to-riches story to believe.

Your ideal in-pipeline leads are hunting for results to their problems and are well-prepared to spend appropriately for their challenges. But no one is willing to spend money simply because you ask them to. There must be a tangible value a prospect is confidently set to derive from a sale. How then do you convince them that you’re not just another sneaky snake oil salesman?

Build authority. Subject matter authority.

The concept of subject matter authority is hinged on you distinguishing yourself and your business from other experts/businesses who offer similar solutions. This effectively makes you THE Solution to your ideal clients’ specific problem, not just another random ‘guru’ looking for a few bucks here and there.

HubSpot is an excellent example of a business that’s been leveraging subject matter authority to drive continuous customer acquisition over time.

Search any high-value marketing term on Google, and chances are that you’ll have HubSpot right there on the first page or in most cases, the first three links. And with first page results grabbing from 70-90% of search traffic, HubSpot has built a base of over 60,000 customers for its suite of marketing tools that costs up to $100,000 per annum.

By continuously delivering top-notch marketing & sales-related insights to businesses and marketing professionals, HubSpot has easily retained a prime position as THE inbound marketing authority. By the way, they coined the term ‘inbound marketing’ as a reference to marketing tactics that are aimed at drawing in customers organically via resources they’re actively seeking. So then, how exactly do you build subject matter authority and credibility?

Social proof is the answer.

Social proof is the psychological phenomenon where people imitate the actions of others because they consider it the appropriate response to a situation. They listen to what you have to offer because they see others like them going along with you and they're like, "Why not me?"

Again, HubSpot is a prime example of a business that closes leads via organic, social proof. With the volume of first-page Google rankings they maintain, HubSpot drives a huge volume of ideal leads who consume large volumes of the high-quality content they produce. This is gradually making it easier to get them to opt-in for HubSpot's suite of marketing tools.

Likewise, apart from doing excellent work that your customers are excited to recommend, social proof requires you to: Maintain a stellar online presence.

Quality and quantity are both important.

Some time ago, I attended a webinar focused on drop shipping. Of course, at the end, the e-commerce guy who hosted the webinar offered his software that was supposed to automate the entire drop shipping system for newbies like me - for $2000.

Now, I really didn't intend to buy the software at the time (although, I felt like I had to). But after a Google search, the information I found on the guy wasn't exactly what you'd call high quality. If I was really aiming to buy that software pack, I wouldn't have anyway. All because the guru's online presence wasn't as pronounced as you'd expect from a multi-million dollar entrepreneur.

In the same way, 80% of leads research your business before they move down the funnel. Your in-pipeline leads want to be sure they're doing it right. Social proof requires you to be right there, running a results-focused business like you're claiming to. This way, when a lead pokes around a bit, they can be sure you're the real deal.

Social proof answers the questions:

  • “Why should I listen to this guy?”
  • “Is there a reason why I should give him MY money?”
  • “Why should I believe what he says?”
  • “Is he one of the bull-crap scammers who’re out just to get my money?”

Just like you do when you're looking to buy something on Amazon. In your prospects' minds, these questions must be convincingly answered before they pull out their wallets. It minimizes the perceived risk of eventual buyer's remorse along the line.

Social proof could range from recommendations from your past customers to getting your product/service featured on an authority site (e.g. Forbes, TechCrunch, Inc.)

Building credibility and subject matter authority via quality social proof shortens the sales cycle since your prospects are more confident in your ability to deliver results. “If they’ve been doing this, there’s no way they can’t get it done for me. For them, just another piece of cake”.

3. Create a Reasonable Sense of Urgency

As long as some folks have enough time to delay a deal, they’ll keep kicking the tire down the road until they’re at the deadline. Then they’ll try to convince themselves they really don’t need what you have to offer.

Truth is, tire kickers will remain tire kickers. Except when they have a good reason not to. Here are a few ways to build urgency and get your offer taken as seriously as it should.

a. Explain Why Your Prospects Need Your Solution now and not Later.

A good number of tire kickers remain undecided because they're confused on what your solution means to them. They feel they can go another day or more without your solution - as they’ve always done.

What those kinds of leads need are not discounts, but a clear outlook on what their procrastination could be costing them. Once folks see things from your angle, they'll realize what they'll lose by delaying you from helping them out. In most cases, that's enough to do the trick.

b. Use Scarcity to Incentivize Faster Decisions

"Since it’s going to be here tomorrow, I’ll just put it off and pick it up after work."- Lazy Prospect

Believe it or not, that’s what most of your in-pipeline leads say to themselves subconsciously. “If it’ll be here later, why the rush? I’ll just do it later.”

That statement is why you should make sure your prospects are clear that your offer won’t be there forever. Turn the heat on and define an actual loss that your prospects stand to suffer by procrastination. And stick with it. Don’t make any exceptions since all it’ll do will be to damage your reputation.

If your leads have an opportunity to gain from whatever you’re offering, it’s absolutely reasonable that there’s a penalty for not grabbing it. Use that to your advantage.

c. Emphasize Your Value Proposition.

Describe and explain how you can't help everyone, but you can help them if they let you. As the saying goes, when people are tired of hearing anything, then they've just begun to hear it. To convey a sense of value to your in-pipeline leads, you must continually keep the spotlight on what your prospects stand to gain from your offer. Drill it down into their minds right until they're down the funnel.

4. Be Responsive and Available

Social proof helps allay your customers’ fears. And responsive customer service completes the loop by answering the specific questions they may have and providing the required hand-holding that gets your customers to the bottom of the funnel.

To be clear, you’re the expert who knows how to generate results. Your customers don’t know what you do. But they'll definitely love some insight into the process - to see how it’s working out.

And that’s where excellent and responsive customer service fits in/comes in handy: being right there right when you’re needed.

Truth is, not every in-pipeline lead can be interested in whatever you have to offer. That of course, is except if you’re selling ice cream. As such, it's important for the precious few who decide to take it a step further, that you provide adequate support. Lay out your service proposition and address any objections your leads may have.

With this strategy, you'll be creating customer friendly repertoire that encourages your customer to come back to you. And we all know repeat customers are worth a considerable amount to any business.

5. Be Personal In Your Communications

Treat people like numbers and they will respond accordingly - like numbers.

Inversely, treat people like buddies and they’ll love you like you’ve always been buddies. And buddies spend money on themselves, don’t they?

Gone are the days of sending out emails to 10,000 random people and hoping that you magically get replies. That’s going to land your domain in a spam trap since your recipients have no reason to reply to you anyways. In present times, personalization sets the stage for customer outreach. It allows you to speak heart-to-heart with an in-pipeline lead, highlighting how you can add value to his life and what he stands to lose from not grabbing your deal.

Imagine you're at the mall and the cashier asks you a question in your high school slang, calling you by your high school nickname. Of course, you're going to ignore everyone else and focus on having a great discussion with the fellow, simply because they talked to you like you're YOU (that's not a typo), and not just a random face in the crowd.

Personalization is speaking your lead’s language. You're making it easier to jump into friendly conversations that eventually lead them down your funnel.

Now, you ask, what then would be the ideal medium of reaching potential customers while keeping conversations as lively and friendly as they should be?

Text messages are the way to go. With over 90% of text messages being read within three minutes, personalized text messages enable you to combine the power of one-on-one conversations with high-powered reach. They ensure that you get an outstanding reply and close rates to your outreach messages.
Personalized text messaging campaigns reframe your business image from a soulless, tuxedo-wearing salesman to a buddy who’s trying to help customers get the best out of life.

6. Stay in Touch with Cold and Undecided Leads

From a cash flow crunch to a crazily busy schedule, a variety of factors could delay a deal closureBut keeping in touch with a lead guarantees a streamlined sales cycle when they eventually decide to buy.

Also, note that frequent contact with in-pipeline leads helps to get a better understanding of their objections. That way they can be addressed to eventually gain the prospect’s trust – and business.

Staying in touch could include:

  • Handing out special offers.
  • Passing greetings across during holidays, etc.
  • Sending out a scheduled newsletter.

What then would be the ideal method to keep leads warm while warming up those that are growing cold?

From our standpoint, text messaging takes home the trophy as the No. 1 medium that guarantees the best results.

Based on the fact that 64% of adults now own a smartphone, there’s no questioning the fact that a huge fraction of your ideal targets and in-pipeline leads are in that bracket. That said, what better way to reach them, judging by the fact that over 80% of American adults text?

Text messaging, of course.

Now, imagine that you're able to build rapport with your in-pipeline leads via a medium they already use. It offers them personalized customer support and highlights your deals in messages that get read within three minutes of being delivered.

You can cut through the noise, close those slacking leads, and generate predictable results that drive your business forward in less time by speaking the language of friends with your in-pipeline leads - text. Text messaging lets you know where you stand with your leads in real-time. You're removing the guesswork from your sales process so you can laser-focus on what really works.

Smart text messaging campaigns can get you up to 45% response rates on those leads you’ve almost given up on - so much more than an email that it’s like you’re getting free money.

Sounds like something you want? It should be.

Here at ReplyBuy, we help businesses engage prospects and customers where they’re at by turning conversations into action in less time and with half the effort. Already your customers check their smartphones 150 times a day and ReplyBuy helps you close deals and collect payments right where your audience is.

Learn how ReplyBuy can help you close more deals faster and better - with half the work.

About the Author Brandon O'Halloran

Brandon was most recently the CEO at ReplyBuy. He is a strong sales and operations professional with a demonstrated history of exceptional performance leading customer-facing teams in B2B technology companies. Prior to ReplyBuy, he was in a senior enterprise sales role for Infogroup, a big data, analytics and marketing services provider.

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