Episode Summary

Wondering what it takes to build a healthy sales pipeline?

What about tips on how to stop chasing ghosts and shift your focus to qualified prospects you can be all but certain will close?

On this episode of the B2B Power Hour, we break down all of that and more with Alex Newmann of Newmann Consulting Group. With a proven track record of helping CEOs transition out of founder-led sales and into a metric-driven, scalable sales team, he's the perfect guest to talk about how to build a successful (and scalable!) sales pipeline.

Sales isn't just a volume game. Rather than trying to send out as many emails as possible, hone in on the discovery phase of your sequence — this is where you'll lay the groundwork for identifying qualified (and unqualified) leads.

Start your sales pipeline by gaining a strong understanding of what a qualified opportunity looks like: Who is your ideal customer? What are their business characteristics and individual characteristics? How much of this information can you find online versus requiring a one-on-one conversation?

Then, create a sales cadence based on the warmth of your lead and the maturity of the market you're in.

It's up to you to scale results by figuring out what's working. If you aren't happy with your metrics, compare them to your colleagues’ numbers and industry averages to figure out where the gap is. Analyze what has worked well in the past, and try to duplicate that success.

Listen in to learn about how you can become the best, most impactful version of yourself as a sales rep. Alex goes in-depth on everything from identifying your target audience to qualifying (and disqualifying) leads and how to forecast your goals so you know exactly where to spend your time.

What he does: As the Founder & CEO of Newmann Consulting Group, Alex helps CEOs transition out of founder-led sales and into a metrics-driven, scalable sales team.

Key quote: "If you don't have a strategy and you're just going to target someone to target someone, or you're just going to pick a company to pick a company, it's a recipe for disaster."

Where to find him: Twitter | LinkedIn | Website

B2B Power Plays

Top takeaways from this week’s conversation

🎯 Before you can find your target audience, you have to clearly define them — and your messaging.

The first step to creating a healthy sales pipeline is figuring out exactly who your target audience is and what a qualified lead looks like.

Build out these four parts of your ideal customer profile:

  1. Searchable business characteristics:  What can you find out about the company online? How much is public knowledge?
  2. Non-searchable business characteristics: What business information couldn’t you gather without talking to someone who works at the company?
  3. Searchable individual characteristics: What can you learn about the person just by reading about them online or browsing their LinkedIn and Twitter profiles?
  4. Non-searchable individual characteristics: What are a few things you wouldn't be able to learn without talking to them, whether it's in person or on a phone call?

Once you have those details figured out, you can mix them with business pain points and value props of your solution. Then, start creating a strategy around who you're going to target and what your message will be.

📞 Choose the best approach to structuring your sequence.

The right sequence structure could make or break your forecasting.

There are three approaches you can take when it comes to your sequence strategy:

  1. Comin' in hot: You can start your sequence with a lot of calls and emails, frontloading your game plan early on. Then, towards the end of your 30- or 40-day cycle, you'll start to spread out your activities.
  2. Slow start: This one is the opposite of the first approach: You'll slow down your initial outreach, allowing more time between each activity, but dial it up towards the end of the cycle.
  3. Clustering: With this approach, you have three or four activities within two to three days of each other. Then, provide a few days as a gap between contacts and repeat your cluster of activities. (This is the one Alex has used the most lately).

✅ Disqualifying deals is just as important as qualifying them.

Nobody wants to waste their time chasing a ghost deal. So how do you avoid following through on a lead that's already a dead end? By spending the majority of your efforts on the qualification stage.

Alex likes to think there's no such thing as too much discovery — even if it takes 10 initial calls, it's crucial to understand what the prospect is trying to do and why. Ask them what the impact would be if the problem they have went away.

Also, don't forget to ask about their timeline during your discovery. Sometimes, a mismatched timeline can be a bigger deal-breaker than budget restrictions.

For example, if they're looking to see results within two months but what you're selling doesn't typically show impact for six months, you'll have to disqualify that lead.  

Episode Highlights

Inflection points from the show

[3:29] Building out your account strategy: Alex explains the first thing every successful account strategy needs — a culture of sharing and teamwork — and how you can contribute to a positive sales culture even if you aren't in a leadership position.

[12:05] Working new accounts: When you start with an account, you need to research and understand the prospect to know who to reach out to, how you're going to reach them and how you plan on building a relationship with them.  

[15:53] Preferred selling channels: Your ideal prospecting channels all depend on who you're selling to — don't just pick the channel you're most familiar with. Alex explains his go-to selling channel combination and why he prefers a multi-channel approach.

[21:02] Creating a sales cadence: The right sequence depends on your audience and the maturity of the market you're in. For example, Alex's colder/light/warm sequences in B2B mid-market and enterprise sales are usually about 15 steps and 30-40 days long.

[24:35] Quarterly planning: Alex explains how he plans out his quarter, including how he groups similar clients together and how he decides who to call first.

[28:52] The ideal cycle length: A good rule of thumb for sales cycles is 45-60 days.

[32:31] The importance of disqualifying deals: Sales isn't just a volume game. Instead, give yourself the absolute best chance to close by putting qualified leads into your pipeline. Alex also explains how to disqualify deals and stop chasing ghosts.

[40:02] Calculating your forecasting formula: Learn to sell and you'll never go hungry. Align your personal goals with your professional ones and create a formula to achieve them. Alex describes how he creates his formula for personal success.

[44:34] Alex's power hour: Whether it's research, reading, reviewing his pipeline, listening to calls or identifying bottlenecks, Alex would turn off all of his notifications and spend his power hour doing whatever activities are most impactful to help him hit his goals.

[46:16] The most common struggle: Nick often hears his audience say that they don't know who to talk to. He covers why he sees this as such a prevalent issue and how to overcome it.