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Strong Sales Pipeline in Consulting business

How to build a strong sales pipeline for consulting firms? 

Key Takeaways
  • Modern consulting businesses should have a strong marketing engine to build a solid sales pipeline.
  • Strong sales pipeline results in increased conversions, better customer relationships, and organized processes for pipeline management.
  • The primary steps to building an ideal sales pipeline involve generating leads effectively, prioritizing them, and qualification by the sales reps.

According to a statistic, only 27% of the leads get closed. That means you need constant new prospects to close more deals. 

To accomplish that, your marketing team needs to set up its lead generation engine, and your sales team must constantly qualify leads to build a solid foundation. 

In order to do that, the marketing team must constantly come up with new leads, qualify them, and send them across the sales team to make the pipeline rich. 

I’m writing this article from a slightly different perspective. I believe modern consulting businesses should have a strong marketing engine to build a solid sales pipeline.  

So, let’s dive right in. 

How to build a strong sales pipeline for your consulting business? 

Building your ideal sales pipeline consists of 4 key steps:

  • Keep the marketing lead generation engine running 
  • Qualify leads for MQL 
  • Qualification by the sales team 
  • Create a meaningful sales pipeline 

Step 1: Keep the marketing lead generation engine running 

Every successful sales conversion begins with collecting the leads, qualifying them for marketing, and submitting them to the salespeople.  

To get things in motion, marketers must take care of the basics: 

  1. Identify your target audience 
  2. Define the kind of content they would appreciate 
  3. Plan a content execution strategy 
  4. Distribute content meaningfully 
  5. Collect leads through forms and newsletter signups 

1. Identify your target audience 

Building Ideal Customer Personas (ICPs) is the first step toward your digital marketing strategy and content creation.  

Start by identifying your target client.  

Research the critical decision-makers and power players capable of making the purchase decision. 

Segment and build a detailed audience list based on demographics, purchase intent, behaviors, and the goals they’d want to accomplish in the future by partnering with you and utilizing your services. 

Here’s an example of ICP for a consultancy that provides marketing services to SaaS platforms. 

Buyer Persona Template

Need more help with creating a customer persona? Download our free template

2. Define the kind of content they would appreciate 

Every marketing department has to create content to generate leads. 

Generally, for consulting, informative blogs, research reports, and whitepapers are more appropriate for your audience.  

You can write more content that includes problem diagnosis, strategy implementation, market research reports, or financial planning.

These are sure to help your audience and resonate with them. 

For instance, Animalz – a content marketing consulting company, writes thought leadership topics like these and gained attention from their target audience.

Animalz - a content marketing consulting company

People find podcasts more entertaining, as they can enjoy them on the go, on their own time. 

Look at McKinsey – A global management consultancy, and the topics they cover in their podcast: 

The McKinsey Podcast

3. Prepare a content execution plan 

Before creating content, you need a solid content plan, and Cluster Approach is the best option right now.  

In simple words, a cluster is a process of writing multiple child topics to gain authority over a parent topic.  

For example: 

Parent Topic: Consulting services for SaaS   

Child Topic: How much does a consulting charge to a SaaS business? 

It depends on the level of depth of a subject.

Here’s an example of a parent topic, “Business Strategy Consulting.” Look at the child topics based on the funnel stage: 

Top of the Funnel Middle of the Funnel Bottom of the Funnel 
What is business strategy consulting? Best business strategy consulting firms in New York Business strategy consulting for small business 
Types of business strategy consulting Marketing business strategy consulting Business strategy consulting for finance businesses 
 Sales business strategy consulting A landing page on Business Service Consultancy 

4. Distribute your published content 

Now that you’ve created your cluster topics and suitable content around them, you must tell the world.  

More specifically, it would help to let your desired audience know that you’ve published content and what it’s about.  

There are several ways to tell your audience about your published content. 

Post on social media and groups: Create posts about the problems and solutions your audience seeks.

Post them on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and community groups to help increase your brand identity.

Associating links with social media posts can give you more traffic as well. 

Email marketing: Send a glimpse of new content to your subscribers. It’s a great way to talk to your audience and keep them engaged. 

Aside from blogs, send the latest industry updates, newsletters, or other weekly tips related to your audiences’ challenges.

It will resonate with them and keep you on top of their mind as an industry expert. 

Publish content on third-party channels like Medium: Medium is a great place to publish blogs and articles apart from your website.

With over 100 million monthly active users, Medium can deliver quality traffic.

Influencer marketing: Partner with influencers in your industry and leverage their influence to target a vast audience.

It will help establish you as a credible source in the eyes of their followers. 

YouTube and podcasts: As mentioned earlier, channels like video and podcast marketing are other super advantageous ways to speak to your audience.   

5. Collect leads through Forms and Newsletter signups 

Remember, the marketing team’s goal is to generate sales leads and bring more money to the table.

The goal of all the educational content should be to bring visitors down the funnel to your service pages (i.e., landing pages).

Your service pages (or money pages) aim to tell visitors about your brand, the value you provide, and the benefits you can bring through your offerings.

For instance, Rapidops – one of the finest digital transformation companies in the world, shows their approach on their service page like this: 

Rapidops

Contact forms and newsletter forms will help you accomplish that.   

Insert fields relevant to your business needs, keep the form simple and short, and use clear labels for each field.

A simple, clearly labeled form allows visitors to fill it out quickly and not lose interest.  

Here, if your CRM software offers web form creation, it’s easier for you to bring all the leads directly into the system for further steps. 

Step 2: Qualify leads for MQL  

You have successfully generated leads and stored them in your CRM. But what’s next?  

You need to qualify the leads you’ve collected and then forward them to the sales, so they can put efforts in the right direction.  

Lead Scoring is an effective way to qualify leads as per your ICP. It assigns a score to your leads based on ideal client traits, demographics, and interests.   

Lead scoring answers a basic question: Does a lead have the potential to become an ideal client for your firm?

The more a lead resonates with your ICP, the higher the score.   

There are many lead scoring models in the market, and it is up to you to choose from and implement them in your lead-scoring process.  

Read more: 5 most popular lead scoring models in the market 

Here’s a typical example of a lead scoring process: 

Example of a lead scoring process

I’d highly recommend not picking some random model for lead scoring. 

But understand what matters to your business and create a custom model for yourself. 

Build a custom lead scoring model in CRM

Build a custom lead scoring model in CRM

Score leads per your business needs and generate sales ready leads.

Explore Lead Scoring CRM

Step 3: Qualification by the members of the sales

Once the marketing team scores and assigns leads to salespeople, they have their qualifications.

This is where they contact leads to collect valuable information by asking business-specific questions to understand whether they are a good match.

Such qualifications mainly occur on sales calls.

I’ll not take up your time on these questions, but if you want to read more about it, I’ve plugged in an excellent resource below.

Read more: 21+ Sales qualifying questions to stop wasting time on wrong leads 

Step 4: Create a meaningful sales pipeline 

This is the most critical aspect, but many businesses build random pipelines.

It is ideal for making a sales pipeline that matches your sales process or aligns with the goals because it will visually represent the ongoing sales process.

To make the correct sales pipeline, you need answers to these questions: 

  • What is the standardized sales process that your business follows?  
  • How many stages do you need?  
  • What’s the importance of each stage for you? 

You can quickly turn your sales process into a pipeline if you have answers to these simple questions. Any modern CRM can help you with it.

Let’s assume that you run an IT consulting. Here’s a typical example of how a sales pipeline would look like.

Sales pipeline picture inside Salesmate

If you want to learn more about the stages of sales pipelines, I’ve added an FAQ at the bottom of the article.

So, there you go; if your lead gen engine is working, and you constantly push qualified leads forward, you’ll have a healthy sales pipeline for your consulting.

3 tips for maintaining a healthy sales pipeline 

Congratulations, you’ve built a strong pipeline for your salespeople to follow.

However, maintaining a constant lead gen and nurturing flow is another matter. Here are some fantastic tips for maintaining a sales pipeline.

1. Monitor, analyze, and update the pipeline on a weekly basis  

Check the sales pipeline weekly to determine the number of qualified leads and how many conversions have occurred.

In addition, it will estimate the pipeline’s performance, allowing you to make additional changes when required.  

While updating the pipeline, remove a potential poor-performing deal or a bad one to save time and effort on that lead.  

Analyze any leads that are dropping off and adjust your sales process accordingly. 

2. Maintain regular relationships with your leads  

It is essential to regularly keep in touch with your leads to build relationships and keep your consulting on top of their minds.  

Since only some leads are ready to purchase, establishing a relationship is essential.  

Send personalized emails and informative newsletters every week to keep them entertained. 

Nurture leads and achieve industry-best conversions

Nurture leads and achieve industry-best conversions

Send highly personalized emails automatically through Sequences.

Explore Email Sequences

3. Create content that educates and provides value to your target customers

Create blogs, articles, and whitepapers that are for the sole purpose of educating your customers on their pain points and solutions.

Doing so rather than just promoting your services will establish your business as a trusted consultant. 

Conclusion 

For your consulting to succeed, ensure you have established a strong sales pipeline management.

A strong pipeline is developed by generating leads consistently.

Ensure qualified leads are generated constantly by the marketing team and assigned to the sales.

More importantly, match your consulting pipeline with the sales process.

By implementing these practices, your consulting can increase the chances of converting prospects into customers and drive revenue growth.

We hope you’ve learned a lot from this article. 

Frequently asked questions 

What are the typical stages of a sales pipeline for consulting?
  1. MQLs

This is the ideal first stage, where the marketing team forwards MQLs to sales. These are scored leads, but still, salespeople have to ask manual questions. 

  1. First contact 

Your salespeople should begin connecting with leads to understand more about their challenges and purchase intentions of your service. 

  1. Meeting booked 

This is the next stage, where the salespeople schedule an appointment and book a meeting to proceed with the proposal.  

  1. Proposal presented 

The proposal will contain an overview of the business and value you provide, along with the qualifications of the personnel, features, and pricing and payment terms.

Showcase your unique value proposition and highlight why your consulting should be the best.  

  1. In negotiation 

In this stage, both the parties, the sales team, and the client, agree on what the consulting offers regarding features, benefits, and pricing. 

  1. Contract in motion 

Here, both parties agree to move forward with the transaction after both parties initiate a signing contract or the purchase order. This usually is the last step of the sales cycle.

Why establishing a sales pipeline is important for your consulting business?

-Increased conversions 

-Achieve better customer relationships 

-An organized sales process for pipeline management 

-To achieve sales targets on time and bring new business

-To deeply understand buying journey and improve experiences

-Have a unified sales and marketing collaboration for new business development

-Achieve maximum efficiency for the sales department

Sonali Negi

Sonali is a writer born out of her utmost passion for writing. She is working with a passionate team of content creators at Salesmate. She enjoys learning about new ideas in marketing and sales. She is an optimistic girl and endeavors to bring the best out of every situation. In her free time, she loves to introspect and observe people.

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