Selling to the Unsellable: The Path to Pipeline Growth

Data: Today’s Protective Ruby Slipper

From tightened budgets to economic turmoil, making a sale in 2023 can seem tougher than Dorothy’s trek to the Emerald City. We all know her mantra from that arduous journey down the yellow brick road about the dangers of “lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” For sales leaders right now, that could be “inflation and supply chain and recession” – the specters haunting their win rates.

But with the right data and tools, sellers can still connect with prospects and close more deals – without the help of a magical wizard.

The Pipeline Problem

If you haven’t had the chance to check out our 9th Annual Sales and Marketing Data Report, it’s worth a look. The survey results from 600 B2B sales, marketing, and data leaders speak volumes when it comes to today’s key business challenges.

Feel like you’ve been tasked with selling in an unsellable environment? You’re not alone. According to the report, a staggering 31% selected generating sales pipeline as a major challenge sales and marketing teams are facing in driving business growth today. In fact, the issue was included among the top three responses.

As prospects clench their corporate cards and guard their departmental budgets with their lives (or so it may seem), you need to find a way to break down those barriers and expand your pipeline. Intimidating? Maybe. But impossible? We don’t think so.

Feel like you’ve been tasked with selling in an unsellable environment? You’re not alone. A staggering 31% selected generating sales pipeline as a major challenge that teams are facing today.

Locate the Right Buyer

It’s common sense that you have to understand your prospects and customers if you want to close deals. Yet it is something that so many sellers flat out struggle with. In our survey, 31% of respondents said reaching the right buyer is a major pain point right now. And how can you drive the sales pipeline if you can’t connect with the right buyers? Spoiler alert: You can’t.


Let the Data Speak for Itself

The first step toward finding the right buyer is to listen to the story your data is already telling you. (Bet you didn’t know your data could speak, did you?)

  • What do your recent company wins look like? Find and analyze their demographic and industry makeup for commonalities and use those to identify potential look-alike buyers.
  • Take a look at your existing prospect list. Which companies have gone through recent economic challenges? Which have remained stable? This information can play a crucial role as you prioritize your efforts.
  • Do any recent customers have a parent or sister company that could use your solutions? You already have your foot in the door, so make your life easier by reviewing your company data to find relevant company linkages and turn them into opportunities.
  • Which contacts played an integral part in recent sales wins? Review your contact data to get a feel for their job titles, technological needs, and, most importantly, the challenges their job presents that your solution can support. Apply those insights to other accounts on your radar and discover potential contacts with similar titles and needs.
  • What contact information do you have access to? Ensure you have reliable contact information for your target contacts within your company list. Do your research if needed (connect on LinkedIn, search on Google) to find a way to get in touch with the right people.
  • How many contacts do you need to win over? Today’s B2B buyer is rarely ever one or two people. In fact, according to the Future of B2B Buying Journey Report from Gartner, the average B2B buying group is made up of six to 10 people. It’s no longer enough to win over your main company contact. You also have to build relationships with leaders, influencers, and anyone else impacted by a potential sale.

Don’t Ignore the Elephant(s) in the Room

Now that you’ve identified and prioritized your prospect list, it’s time to get the conversation going with your key contacts. You need a plan to hook your prospects to actually consider buying – in this economy. (How could we forget? Inflation and supply chain and recession – oh my!)

If there is one thing that TikTok and Gen Z have taught us, it’s the value of staying relevant. No, we aren’t encouraging you to learn the latest dance trend (but if you want to, by all means).

What we mean is, have honest and direct conversations about the potential hurdles to a successful sale. Tackle them head-on – and get creative using them to your advantage. Here are some tips to help you wade through the murky waters of potential sales objections with relevance:

  • “With so much uncertainty, we can’t afford to take a risk right now.” A common mindset with recession on the brain and supply chain volatility. So how do you respond with relevance? Highlight the potential risks they take by NOT buying. It’s true that today’s buyers may be hesitant to make any big moves. But the moves they do make will likely be highly calculated to try to ensure a positive ROI. Build a connection by understanding their need to mitigate risk, and communicate how your solution can help stave off future threats rather than create new ones.
  • “We’d like to purchase your product, but it’s too expensive.” You don’t want to appear out of touch by blindly pitching to a prospect who flat out believes they cannot afford your solution. Buyers are under immense pressure to cut costs wherever possible, so they may consider a net new purchase out of the question. Steer the discussion toward your solution’s long-term savings potential and away from the upfront purchasing cost. As you move the conversation forward, you encourage prospects to view you as a teammate in the trenches of their struggle to save dollars – as opposed to a vendor just trying to make a sale.
  • “Due to recent turnover, we don’t have the capacity to implement your solution.” It’s no secret that staffing is a significant issue for modern businesses. And implementing a new product or service takes time and effort for the buyer – with potentially fewer staff to take on the work and more responsibilities for the ones who do. Use this opportunity to speak to potential timesaving and automation features. If your solution can help take work off an overloaded prospect’s plate, emphasize the value of freeing up their time and capacity.

Illuminate the Path to Closing

The complexities of today’s sales environment are real. But with the right data and tools, savvy sales professionals can do more than just stay afloat – they can thrive.

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