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3 Tips to Creating a Successful Customer Pipeline

Anthony Smith, BusinessNewsDaily Contributor

Anthony Smith is founder and CEO of Insightly

If you’re creating a customer pipeline for your business, chances are you already have an idea of what it might look like. However, if you miss something along the way, your pipeline may come to a crashing halt.

This could prove detrimental, as your pipeline is a living, breathing entity and needs to be continually optimized. In order to make sure you are on the right path, follow these three steps for creating a successful customer pipeline.

Evaluate your customer acquisition and awareness
The first priority for your pipeline is acquiring customers. This can feel overwhelming, but there is a multitude of ways to achieve your goal. For example, some of the awareness and acquisition channels you might evaluate are: networking, engaging in social media discussions, search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), online advertising, public relations, partnerships and even resellers.

SEM and SEO are two of the first channels where you may want to focus. These practices let you cast a wide net (if that works for you) or use them for a more targeted approach. You can use SEM and SEO to get your business in the eyes of all those who are actively searching for someone like you. If you’re not aware of the nuances of how to best leverage SEM and SEO, there is a plethora of information out there — including some knowledgeable and cost-effective consultants to help get you started.

Partnerships with related companies or businesses are another vital channel in acquiring new customers. The best method of marketing tends to be word of mouth, and the more companies that know and trust yours, the more people will hear about you. With a partner, you can split marketing and promotional costs to help stretch your budget. If your product lends itself to a distribution channel, a reseller program can also be a great way to acquire customers.

So, if you want to acquire customers, then you’ve first got to be aware of all the ways to find new customers. Make sure you review all of your options, and then choose the ones that work for your business and your budget. Then you can reach your tentacles out to the deepest oceans and find plenty of willing, supportive fish in the sea.

Fill up your appointment book with opportunities for gaining new clients, and soon you’ll see that it’s not as hard as you might have originally anticipated. Also, don’t be afraid to experiment because you never know what may or may not work until you try it. Even if one strategy doesn’t work the first time, put it on the back burner and look at it again in nine to 12 months. Changes in your business or in the marketplace may now make it a viable channel.

Make sure that your customers see your product the way you do
Although you believe in your offer, you must make sure that there are reasons for others to believe in it, too. Make sure that your perception of your product aligns with your prospects’ expectations.

Offer a free trial or a free account that can be used indefinitely (popularly called a “freemium” model). In many cases, while your freemium users may not initially contribute to your bottom line, they can be your best evangelists. They will let you know what works for them and what doesn’t, and this can lead you to improvements beyond your initial expectations.

Outside of your product, test the most popular areas of your website using a tool like Crazy Egg. Discovering the nitty gritty of the things that you can’t see will help you identify which points you need to closely monitor in order to ensure that your product is ready for your customers.

Take care of your customers
Once your product is in use — with lots of customers eagerly awaiting your next release — take control and take care of those customers. Educate them about your system the way you want them to understand it. Don’t let them struggle with it until they give up.

Give them reasons to stay. Design your own user guide or how-to videos and help customers help themselves. And don’t forget the personal touch.

As technology continues to evolve and consumers continue to feel overwhelmed, the need to speak to a human never goes away. In many ways, your support team is the keeper of your brand because they probably interact with your customers more than anyone else in your company. If your customers feel like you care about their experiences — both with your product and your company — you’ll continue to be successful and will always be one step ahead of your competition.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BusinessNewsDaily.