Growth Culture for the B2B Sales Pipeline Win
The processes, tech, and collateral you arm your salespeople with at your B2B organization are the baked-in ingredients of your sales culture. If growth culture is essential, then so is getting these right.
Of course, knowing you need to create a growth culture with your sales team is one thing. Understanding why and how to create a growth culture takes a little more planning, intention, and strategy.
It all starts with process, tech, and collateral. The presence (or lack of) and execution of these three components all play individual roles in the cumulative goal of developing a growth mindset and, ultimately, winning more.
Plot Twist: A Growth-Oriented Culture Outperforms Performance Culture
Fact: Most organizations promote a performance driven culture. And don't get me wrong, performance is important—but being performance obsessed can have negative consequences for any organization. Why? Because a culture focused solely on performance often only prioritizes outcome. A performance-obsessed business with a culture focused only on outcome may recognize when something isn't working , but without applying a growth mindset to the problem, that company may never understand why something isn't working.
A True Growth Culture Prioritizes Continuous Feedback and Continuous Learning Throughout the Sales Process
Put simply: Establishing growth culture in the sales process uses data to promote continuous feedback and continuous learning, equipping your business to ultimately outperform performance culture in the long run. This is why I am painfully intentional and make it my personal responsibility to layer elements of growth throughout every Orange Pegs program and campaign. Growth permeates every nook and cranny of our template. From the steps we take during our meetings, to the way deals are housed in the CRM, and every other corner of the universe we touch, growth strategies all play a role in the final outcome. As a result, we don't just create growth marketing solutions—we create a system of practices, processes, and protocols that all exemplify a thriving, dynamic growth culture.
Growth Culture Follows the Data to Eliminate the Status Quo in any Marketing or Sales Campaign
In film school, I remember my Directing 101 teacher talking about the importance of understanding the premise of any story you're putting on tape—and ensuring that premise is present in every single frame.
Every camera angle.
Every prop or costume.
If the premise isn't present, it shouldn't make the final cut. Ideally, it's eliminated before it costs the studio too much. This process helps the Director focus on what matters on set and post production.
For me, this mindset allows me to be cold and calculated when it comes to refreshing and implementing new growth systems. A true growth culture is all about following data, not sentiment, not bias; it creates a continuous learning process where components can (and should) be recalibrated and removed as needed to deliver the best possible results.
Leveraging Growth Culture to Create a B2B Sales Pipeline Designed for Success
When making decisions about B2B sales pipeline stages, I suggest starting from the top. First, get on the same page with everybody regarding your goals by articulating and defining them.
Then, start a debate. Are these the right goals for our sales process? Are we defining them in ways that are clear, with one interpretation, and (most importantly), measurable?
As a manager or owner, you want to see what's going on across both individual and organizational components of the sales process, but you also want to be able to make sense of it. It's important to ask, How does what I'm looking at translate to revenue and growth?
It's critical to get specific because any time you leave gray areas in your sales process or B2B sales pipeline tools, they get filled with crap.
So, get clarity on the direction you're going and everybody's role first and foremost.
Fueling Growth Requires Identifying Your North Star Metric
At Orange Pegs, we always start by collaborating and defining the highest purpose of growth with the North Star metric and all of the precursor milestones, so we can keep focused on what really matters. Then, we apply our growth template (learn more by taking this quiz) to the unique specifications of that client.
Our funnel concept of choice is "Pirate Metrics." We didn't coin the phrase Pirate Metrics, but the entire customer experience can be broken down into 5 stages:
When running a Growth program, it's important to identify all of these components because it's how we organize experimentation and measure progressive outcomes.
(read more about Pirate Metrics)
What is a B2B Sales Pipeline?
First, let's get on the same page.
In the vast majority of the B2Bs we've encountered, the sales pipeline defines the period after a contact decides to become an active participant in your sales process through the signing of the contract.
There are times when those parameters change, such as when there are software capability limitations in the CRM (and it gets spaghetti-rigged to perform beyond its ability), or, let's say, you get paid after the work is completed and there's attrition between contracts signed and payment received.
These are our 5 entry rules when building a b2b sales pipeline (must pass ALL tests):
- The contact involved MUST be a willing participant in your sales cycle
- Each stage must represent a desired outcome
- Each stage advances the cause
- There is only one way to WIN and one way to LOSE
- There's a formula to it — ideally, a proven one
A B2B Sales Pipeline Requires an Active Participant
There MUST be a separation between leads that have no life in them yet and contacts that are willingly going through your sales cycle. I've heard every argument you can think of to combine them but the pipeline is designed for the sole purpose of focusing on your BEST leads that are moving toward a close.
Lists you purchase, names you compile because of an article you read, or direct hits on ZoomInfo data dumps (aka people who haven't even picked up the phone let alone agreed to share their pain and receive your proposal) belong in lead list, not your sales pipeline.
I will die on this hill. This is the single most common place where deals go to die, so if we can't get this right, we're heading nowhere fast.
It's that important.
Leads with no life clutter the B2B sales pipeline and cloud decision-making. They overinflate confidence. And ANYBODY can add leads to a pipeline like that, making it an environment of smoke and mirrors, something you simply can't trust, which is why those sales meetings are still just as heated as ever no matter how much tech you throw at the situation.
A B2B Sales Pipeline Must Be Outcome Specific
The second most common place in CRMs where deals go to die is the stage that signals absolutely nothing of value except that it just is. For example, my favorite from Salesforce, "Negotiation."
Why would anybody want to move a deal to a place where value has evaporated, and it's a bidding war to the bottom?
There's a reason why that stage has deals older than your firstborn child.
It's the "Nothing." (Artax, NOOOOO!)
And it's adding to a culture of apathy.
You're giving sales a rest stop that never ends—but also makes the pipeline look and feel significant. In many ways it's worse than the "lead" stage because you're making it easy to park deals where significant time has already been invested, whereas "leads" may not have a single second committed to it outside of scrolling past it by the time it dies.
A B2B Sales Pipeline Should Always Advance the Cause
Since we're using specific outcomes as our stages, it's only natural to assume that each stage should advance to the close. The one exception is the "LOST" stage. And, you might make the argument for "stalled." Although, I might make the argument that any deal considered "stalled" more than 30 days is a dead deal because time changes everything, including your read of a client's needs and budget. 30 days is about how long it takes to ignore a stalled deal before moving it to the parking lot of death. You might as way simplify the pipeline and call it what it is: DOA.
A B2B Sales Pipeline Outlines One Way In, One Way Out
Personal responsibility is important in successful business growth. However, it's important to ensure personal responsibility doesn't spill over into blame. One of the best ways to deprogram a culture of blame is to change the way you talk about lost business.
A deal that does not close for WHATEVER reason is a lost deal.
We can, and should, draw clearer answers than simply "lost" when analyzing the sales process, but there are places where that's useful and places where it clouds our judgment. When it comes to stages, having multiple lost categories adds clutter. Clutter makes it hard to see things clearly, which makes our judgment less reliable.
One closed WON category. One closed LOST category. Then, add a "closed lost REASON" field that requires entry when a deal is placed in that column. It really is that simple, and helps us focus on moving forward rather than dwelling on the past—an important goal if synergy and collaboration is something you value. In growth, it's everything. (read more about growth)
A B2B Sales Pipeline Offers a Proven Formula (One Way In, One Way Out)
Drop "Negotiation." Drop "Lead" or "Prospect." Focus on outcomes. Clean up the number of stages by eliminating emotionally charged "lost" categories—apply a formula.
Ours is a riff off of Hubspot's, which you can find in their Inbound Sales and Sales Software certifications programs.
Our B2B Sales Pipeline for the Growth Minded:
- Connect Call (Discovery Set)
- Qualified by Discovery
- Plan Presented & Sent
- Decision-Maker Buy In
- Final Contract Sent
- Contract Signed - CLOSED WON
Create a Growth Culture That Eliminates the Status Quo in Sales and Marketing Campaigns
Orange Pegs can help. Schedule a call today with one of our growth marketing professionals to learn more about establishing a growth culture that outperforms performance culture in your organization.