4 Tips to Move Prospects Through Your Pipeline Faster

Editor’s Note: This article was first published by Sales Hacker here.

It doesn’t matter what company you work for, what stage you’re at in your sales career, or whether you prefer to use emails, phone calls or LinkedIn messages when you’re prospecting. 

The biggest problem that all sales and customer success reps struggle with is still the same: Ensuring that your ideal contacts convert.

And, according to Salesforce, an average of 58% of the deals in your pipeline will stall. So clearly, the numbers aren’t in our favor. 

In this article, we’ll discuss four tips that you can use in order to increase your response rates, avoid pre-close ghosting, and unstick pipeline stalls in order to mark more deals “Closed/Won” in your CRM.

3 Top Reasons for Why Deals Don’t Close More Quickly 

Let’s take a moment to ask the cringey question: Why don’t deals close more quicklyor rather—why don’t they close at all? Well, this issue starts with an inability to break through today’s digital noise and elicit responses from our prospective buyers.

Think about it: between emails, voicemails, text messages, social media DMs, Slack, and Microsoft Teams, it’s no secret that these competing communications spaces have made it harder for us to reach desired connections and grow our professional relationships in an effort to broaden our books of business

In fact, over the years, these clashing conversational channels have changed the sales landscape in three major ways:

1.) An Increased Number of Touchpoints

For starters, more digital noise means more touchpoints. According to ZoomInfo, fifteen years ago, the average consumer typically used two touch points when buying an item, and only 7% of consumers regularly used more than four. Today customers use an average of almost six touch points, with 50% repeatedly using more than four.

2.) A Lengthier Buyer’s Journey

This increase in touchpoints means that the buyer’s journey has become longer. Back in 2007, it used to take an average of 3.68 cold call attempts to reach a lead. Now, it’s more than doubled with an average of 8 cold calls.  

3.) Difficulty Forming Professional Relationships

As a result of this lengthened buyer’s journey, we have an even BIGGER problem: It’s now become harder for salespeople to form genuine professional relationships that lead to true revenue growth

How to Move Contacts Through the Funnel Faster

Luckily for us, there’s a very simple solution that can help us to break through the noise and defy the sales industry’s current status-quo in order to separate ourselves from the pack and ensure that forming these professional bonds becomes easier: Practicing gratitude.

Yes, this simple but effective concept can help us to convert contacts at each stage of the buyer’s journey—from awareness, consideration, and decision to eventual client advocacy.

And if you’re feeling somewhat skeptical, this approach is factually proven. According to a study from Harvard Medical School, there is a science behind demonstrating gratitude. When gratitude is displayed and communicated, people begin to:

  • Feel more valued
  • Strengthen connections
  • Develop personal loyalty

These three gratitude outcomes combine to create feelings of reciprocitywhich is the idea that “if I provide something of value to you, you’ll want to provide something of value to me.”

Think back to your childhood for a second: We all had that classmate who would throw a big birthday party every year and include the entire grade on the invite list. As a cause of this kind, inclusive gesture, he or she became more likeable, gained a large grouping of friends, and garnered a plethora of propositions to attend others’ parties in return. 

And when similar considerate gestures are practiced in business exchanges, this same concept of reciprocity can elicit long-term ROI by giving way to greater business opportunities

So, let’s explore how we can go about easily building rapport that leads to reciprocity with our prospective and current partners:

Tip #1: Increase Response Rates with Personalized Outreach 

While trying to cram all of your to-dos between 9-5, it can be easy to get caught up in firing off large batches of emails in hopes of acquiring the largest possible amount of responses from your prospects. 

However, this type of mass outreach won’t yield many replies. Instead, try incorporating personalization in your outreach strategy.

Sure, personalized outreach may sound somewhat scary. But there’s no need to panic: including personalization can be as basic as altering your email messaging. Try the following 3 techniques in order to catch your prospects’ attention and ensure that they respond:

1.) Put Your Prospects’ Names in Your Subject Lines

Personal details such as putting your prospects’ names in your subject lines will lead you one step closer to more “closed-won” deals. In general, not only can email personalization increase your reply rate by 100%, but the simple strategy of including personalized references in your email subject lines can actually boost your cold email open rate by 22.2%

Pro tip: When adding individuals’ names in your subject lines, remember to make sure that they’re spelled correctly! 

2.) Customize Your Email Snippets 

Since an email snippet is the first line of text that your recipient will see after the subject line, this is a secondary section of your email that can be used to elicit responses from your contacts. 

Not only can custom snippets double your reply rate, but they also provide the prime opportunity for you to mention something that speaks directly to the individuals whom you’re trying to reach. 

To increase the likelihood of evoking a reply, one idea is to try using their LinkedIn profiles to identify connections and common interests, and then call them out in your snippets. Whether you and one of your prospects both went to high schools in the same district, mutually follow an influencer, or are part of a specific LinkedIn group, it’s worth giving these types of similarities a mention. And, if you have a contact in common, name dropping this person could work in your favor (provided that your relationship is strong enough). 

3.) Share an Expression of Gratitude

A third way to differentiate yourself and ensure that your messages stand out? Try sharing an expression of gratitude in order to pique their interest. According to a study discussed by The New York Times, recipients of emailed expressions of gratitude feel noticeably more “ecstatic” afterwards. 

Tip #2: Avoid Pre-Close Ghosting Through Leveraging Emotional Intelligence

We’ve all been in situations where we’ve received a response from a key stakeholder whom we’ve been trying to reach, daydreamed of marking the deal “Closed/Won,” and then all of a sudden, they stopped replying to our email thread, or they missed our scheduled meeting.  

Well, fortunately, there’s an easy way to re-engage potentially lost leads. To remain relevant in the eyes of our potential clients, we can leverage emotional intelligence (EQ), or the ability to understand other people, what their motivations are, and how to collaborate with them, through including expressions of gratitude in our messaging. 

At the very least, recent global events have reminded us of the importance of remaining sensitive to situations that have significantly impacted businesses by putting ourselves in others’ shoes and curating our outreach accordingly. However, it’s not only paramount to maintain this practice now, but also beyond this moment in time. 

If you’re searching for a simple way to incorporate emotional intelligence while communicating with your contacts, saying a quick “thank you” will do the trick. 

And if you’re wondering when you should thank them, here are a few instances: 

Thank your prospects for their time after…

  1. A phone call
  2. A formal meeting, whether in-person or conducted via Zoom or Google Hangouts
  3. A lengthy email exchange 

Sending these expressions will help you to continue occupying their attention, and will also shift their impressions of you in a positive direction. Additionally, this type of curated outreach will provide you with another entry point for conversation that allows you to avoid coming across as annoying or irritating. 

Not only are appetites for sincere thank-yous unlimited, but showing appreciation to your potential buyers will help you gain their loyalty. Additionally, by leveraging EQ before deals become closed, you’ll be ahead of the game if and when your prospects become your clients. 

Tip #3: Unstick Pipeline Stalls By Demonstrating Recognition 

Your prospect finally booked a meeting, and the discussion went well. They seemed on board before you hung up the phone, but it’s been a few days since you’ve heard from them, and you’re wondering if they’ve decided to go in a different direction. 

It may appear easier to just send a quick follow up email to a prospect who has appeared to lose interest. But remember: there are other companies that they may be considering a partnership with—one of which could even be your top competitor. 

So, before replying to a prospect who’s stuck in your pipeline, ask yourself the following: What could you contribute in order to separate yourself from your competition and mark this deal “Closed/Won”?

Then, implement this two-step process to stay top of mind in your potential partner’s eyes: 

Step #1: Recognize Their Pain Points in Your Response

To demonstrate that you have your prospect’s primary interests at hand, be sure to recognize their pain points by reiterating them in your reply. Additionally, this will show them that you’ve been actively listening during your various exchanges. 

Step #2: Share an Expression of Gratitude 

Then, identify a way that you can express your gratitude for the potential partnership. One way to do this is by sharing a grateful gesture in your follow up to differentiate yourself and your company from the competition and showcase how much you prioritize their business.

Examples of gestures you can send include:

  • An Uber ride on a rainy morning so that your prospect can avoid dealing with bad weather during their commute into the office.
  • A cup of ‘PositiviTea’ to spread positive vibes before they meet with their boss to get approval before moving ahead with the deal.
  • Movie tickets for them and a plus one if they mentioned that they’re a film aficionado. 

Keep in mind that the more that these gestures are customized towards your contacts’ interests, the greater their effects will be.

Tip #4: Expand Current Accounts Through Expressing Appreciation

Sometimes, we land a deal and can visualize potential revenue opportunities that would emerge after introducing our company’s products or offerings to additional teams or departments.

The easiest way to expand an account after landing it? Ensure that you’re strengthening your relationship with your existing contact by implementing appreciation. As a result, this prospect-turned-client will:

  1. Become more comfortable making introductions on your behalf
  2. Act as your internal champion
  3. Feel valued enough to continue conducting business with your company

Since 83% of customers say that their support for a company is inspired by trust and likeability, by incorporating gestures of appreciation while interacting with your clients, you’ll increase their affinity for your organization while also repeatedly enhancing their confidence that your business genuinely cares about your partnership.

Remember: It’s important to ensure that you appreciate your client before asking them to familiarize you or your organization with their contacts. 

A couple of ways to guarantee that your customers will be inclined to assist you in increasing your business within their company?:

  1. Enact a regular client appreciation program that parallels your standard scheduled check-ins.
  2. Give to your clients first before asking for any intros. An example of giving that goes beyond serving both parties involved is making a charitable donation on a client’s behalf.

Key Takeaways

So, a quick recap: we now know that effective relationship building is difficult for salespeople today. Practicing gratitude is a solution that will help us to build stronger bonds with our prospects and current customers to ensure that we increase our conversion rates at a faster pace. And, implementing this concept is as easy as following these four tips: 

  1. Increase response rates by personalizing your outreach. Try including your prospects’ names in your subject lines, customizing your email snippets, and sharing an expression of gratitude. 
  2. The easiest way to avoid pre-close ghosting is by leveraging emotional intelligence. Sending quick, but thoughtful, “thank yous” after phone calls, formal meetings, and email exchanges will do the trick.
  3. If you’re struggling with pipeline stalls, try unsticking them by recognizing your prospects. This is done best by validating their pain points and sharing grateful gestures with them. 
  4. If you want to expand one of your accounts after landing the deal, try appreciating your prospect-turned-client first. Remember to acknowledge them before making any asks, or else you’ll risk damaging the relationship. 

Now’s the perfect time to let this new technique help you move prospects through your pipeline faster in 2020 and beyond. 

Struggling to move prospects through your pipeline? Thnks makes it easier to expedite your sales cycle. In a matter of seconds, you can search for the perfect gesture of appreciation, personalize a note, and send it off via SMS or email. Interested in learning more? Sign up for a demo!