Now that you have a hypothesis about your shortlist of priority ICPs, it’s time to prioritize your sales pipeline based on those ICPs.
One of the many reasons companies fail is due to misallocating resources and not focusing on the prospective customers they can generate revenue from today.
Knowing where to focus and having the discipline to remain focused helps you use your limited resources effectively.
In this Pipeline Prioritization phase, we’ll go back through all of the leads, opportunities, customers and conversations in your sales pipeline and remove (almost) everyone who doesn’t fit your shortlist of priority ICPs to sharpen your focus.
To get started, pull up the same spreadsheet you created during Current Account Mapping and Pipeline Review. We’ll prioritize all of your accounts in that same spreadsheet.
Trimming the Fat
As you go through each account, any account that doesn’t match against any of your priority ICPs should be significantly deprioritized, other than any account on the cusp of a deal. Your goal is to avoid chasing conversations that might not go anywhere or worse pull your marketing, sales and product focus in another direction.
Reserve as many of your limited resources as possible for your ideal customers.
As you examine deals outside of your ICP, it’s important to be aware of having an overly optimistic view of every opportunity. We often make a case to ourselves that this deal will close under a series of ideal conditions that upon further examination are highly unlikely to happen.
Start asking serious questions about the companies that don’t fit and move from intuition towards facts.
If the account isn’t in your ICP, the deal isn’t going to get done soon, and the budget amount isn’t attractive enough for you to focus on it, then you shouldn’t chase it.
Putting time and effort into accounts that shouldn’t be your customers right now takes valuable and limited time and effort away from those that should be. In turn, this reduces your probability of acquiring them as customers.
Be fully transparent with your buyers. When buyers were hesitant to work with early technology products, it was important to take a “fake it till you make it approach.”
Today, buyers have a lot more confidence in working with startups. Rather than faking it, provide them with insights into your strategic focus and invite them into a long-term, mutually beneficial business relationship.
When your company is ready for their business they will be eager to continue the conversation.
Narrow Your Focus
Follow the above exercise and list your priority ICP companies in the tab labelled, “Pipeline Prioritization.” The purpose of this exercise is to get your team prioritizing efforts and your Market Development Budget on accounts that fit your ICP. In most cases, you will want to reset the conversation for every deal in your pipeline that fits your ICP, especially for deals that have gone sideways or quiet (this is a very common step for a new business).
What does it mean to reset the conversation? Resetting the conversation means recalibrating expectations for the customer and repositioning yourself from a reactionary participant in the deal to a consultative leadership position.
In practice, this means that for every account that matches your priority ICP list you should review:
Now, define the game plan. What are the steps this customer needs to take in order to sign the contract?
Once you have your strategic plan of attack outlined for each opportunity, schedule a meeting with your prospects to get their feedback and establish a partnership moving forward.
This step is particularly important for deals that have stalled, as often times the cause of the pause is that your solution was not focused enough on their use case, industry or problems. Most often, it’s because you focused on what you do, not what you do for them.
You want to be intentional with the customer and demonstrate to them that you’ve made their needs a priority. The prioritized customers should notice that you’re giving them significantly more time, thought and attention.
If you’re sending them one email a month right now, they should start getting one email and a phone call a week from you. If you’ve never called them before, start picking up the phone. If it normally takes them a few days to hear back from you, they should now start hearing back from you the second they send you something
Nearly half of all deals are won by the vendor that responds first. Wholly 80% of sales require at least five follow-up calls after a meeting, yet 44% of people looking for new business give up after one follow-up.
The goal is to crank up your level of intensity with these newly prioritized accounts to ensure that you are top of mind to be the solution of choice when the timing is right.
A Clean Pipeline
At this point your pipeline should consist only of high quality, targeted opportunities that match your priority ICP list. With this level of focus you will be able to increase deal velocity, build a predictable sales process and ultimately find scalable revenue.
The next step will be to lay out what the customer experience currently looks like for every one of your prioritized customers and where improvements need to be made. We call this a Customer Experience Review.
It’s about enabling your customers to give themselves permission to do business with you, and it’s up next in our #gxmxp Series!