#242: How To Build A "Relationship Pipeline" in B2B Sales

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:00:00]:
In this episode, you're gonna learn why you need to nurture deals that are not ready to buy today, simple strategies to help you educate and nurture your pipeline, and why call to actions are not always required when reaching out to your prospects. Welcome to another episode of the How TO Sell podcast. I'm your host, Luigi Prestinenzi. And as always, I'm honored that you have joined us for what will be a very educational session. Now if you're a long time listener, I just wanna say thank you very much for showing up. We value the contribution we make to the growth Forum community. And if you're a first time listener, welcome, and we hope you take away some actionable insights that'll help you sell more. Now, this week, it's all about education.

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:00:40]:
And I should say, just before we jump into this week's episode, welcome, Dave, to another episode of the how do we get Dave off the podcast.

David Fastuca [00:00:50]:
Well, look, Lui, it's, like always, it's always a pleasure to be here. Education, are we gonna talk about when you dropped out in kindergarten? And, or is this something David has to get below

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:01:00]:
the line, like, you know, I'm just I'm I just liked a bit of banter. And Dave you know, I'm actually reading a book right now, Dave. I'm reading it again. Never Split the Difference. I'm trying to learn how I can negotiate to get you off this podcast. So for all of our listeners Yeah.

David Fastuca [00:01:15]:
I'm actually I'm actually getting some of the community reach out to me and giving me some, good pointers on how to attack you in a nice way. So it's nice where there's a there's a bit of there's a bit of a movement happening. It's called a a flight back.

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:01:28]:
Lot done on my side. He's a lot done.

David Fastuca [00:01:30]:
It's a

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:01:30]:
lot done.

David Fastuca [00:01:31]:
I love his health.

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:01:32]:
But this is not an episode on

David Fastuca [00:01:34]:
Let's get

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:01:35]:
it sorted. We should we should have a we just should have an open roasting session. On over Reagan, our good friend from Growth Thornton, loves the fact that we roast you, Dave. Actually, she's been roasting me on LinkedIn. So, actually, you know what, Reagan? We don't like you anymore. Anyway, so let's get into this week's episode, Dave. Yeah.

David Fastuca [00:01:52]:
This is gonna be a good one. Right? Louis, let's get into demystifying the nurturing process. There's a lot of automation and tools and what you should and shouldn't do, but you're here to debunk all of that. What's your thoughts?

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:02:05]:
Yeah. Because I do and I I do like the fact that you've mentioned we talk about automation. And in a world where technology is playing such an important role in the sales and marketing world, sometimes the best way to nurture and educate your audience is to actually stop using automation tools. And let me talk let me talk a bit about why what I mean by this. Our buyers are becoming inundated with so much so much communication is getting thrown at the right because of these tools, they're just getting hammered with information. And I want us to think about the role that we play in the sales process, the role that we play, and the role that you play as a sales professional. You need to own the fact that not all your buyers are gonna be ready to buy today. In fact, the vast majority of the people in your pipeline aren't ready to buy today.

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:02:59]:
And the role of nurturing and educating and giving and creating value is so that when they are ready to buy, they consider you. Okay. So you're earning the right to have that conversation when they're at that point of decision. So what I wanna talk a bit about today, Dave, is the fact that, yes, you can use tools and build out really nice workflows so that you can put that automation on autopilot. But I wanna go back a step and talk a bit about the power of actually mapping out what's important to your buyers first, Then thinking about how do I get messages across to them that aren't always automated so they feel like they're important in our world. Right? Because everybody likes to feel like they're important. Okay? So the first step I I want us to think about, and I want you to think about listening to this episode, before you start to think about automating everything, is go back to the basics and think about what's important to your buyers and come up with a bit of a matrix. So identify who are the people that you're talking to, who are the people that you engage with every day from a sales perspective, from that sales conversation perspective? So if you think of a matrix on the left side, put the role titles.

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:04:11]:
And then across the top, I want you to put the value themes, the themes that are important to them. Now you can you can cut it even further and go value themes based on stages of the buying journey, or if it's top of funnel, that awareness stage, the consideration, or action. But, fundamentally, just start with a very, very basic map. Growth, title, value themes. That's the first thing I want you to do. Then the next thing I want you to do is think about once you define those value themes, think about the content that you can share with them that'll help them consider that particular value theme. And it doesn't always have to be owned content, Dave. We always think we've got to own the content.

David Fastuca [00:04:51]:
This sounds like a lot of work. Right? Now is this gonna increase, obviously, my outreach in process, my the time I need to do everything here? How do I look, what do you recommend here so it doesn't overflow my calendar? Prestinenzi.

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:05:05]:
And this is the most commonly asked question, by the way. People say, I've already I've already under the pump, and I've gotta add more to the to the to the list of of list of things that I've gotta do every day. The key thing with this is if you map this out first, it'll actually save you time. So the thing is not all content pieces you don't need to own all the content pieces. So what do I mean by that? If you know that your audience and I'll give you an example. If you're talking to enterprise based clients who love, publications from Gartner or Forrester or Bain and Co or McKinsey or whoever. Go and find information from those sources that talk to a particular value theme that's important to your buyer. Find that article and pop that into your matrix.

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:05:50]:
The first thing to help speed this process up is map out, like I said, all the value themes and go find all those content pieces. Repurpose content. Repurposing content is a great strategy to educate your buyers. Right? Once you then do that, then think about over what period of time are you gonna share that content? Is it weekly? Is it monthly? Is it quarterly? Right? But the key thing is you've gotta first think about it. This is like taking a cadence to another level. Yeah? So this is not just about your outreach cadence for people that you wanna talk to today. This is now your education cadence. Right?

David Fastuca [00:06:27]:
One thing I like about what you said there, Louis, about sharing other people's content. Now one of the added benefits of that is that you're not always talking about you. These are the things that we can do. Here's what we have written about this, because it's always gonna have a bias towards your brand and your business and what you sell. But by sharing other people's content, you're coming across as a thought expert, an authority in your space, and a guide to help your prospect get to the promised land of where they're trying to get to.

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:06:53]:
And that's that's that's that's a a a great way to summarize it, Dave. Our buyers aren't buying what we do to buy. Our buyers wanna buy a future outcome. They wanna buy a new state. Right? A new state of play. And we've gotta take the we out, and we've gotta take the I out. This is what we do. And sometimes and this is my go to strategy to educate my audience.

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:07:15]:
Sending a direct message in LinkedIn to somebody that I know that is not ready to buy, that's in my relationship funnel to say, hey, Dave. I found this article from Gartner that talks about change management when it comes to learning and development. I thought you might find this article valuable. No call to action. Yeah? Now, do you think about the power of that? You're sending something. It's and then the law of reciprocity kicks in. And actually, I shared something with you over the weekend where somebody that we were talking to in our funnel kind of went to be quiet, and then I noticed something that he posted about his business, and I shared something to him in a message to say, hey. I think you might find this valuable.

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:07:55]:
And I I I sent the screenshot of that to you, Dave. And he immediately came back and said, thanks so much, and the engagement started again. Right? So you don't always need to have a call to action. And I know a lot of marketers will say, and a lot of people One thing

David Fastuca [00:08:12]:

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:08:14]:
like there as well is that if you're really dying,

David Fastuca [00:08:17]:
One thing I like there as well is that if you're really dying to put a call to action in, leverage the PS. And what I mean by that? You know, it could be you you send it over this great piece of of content or reference to someone else's and then look, p s, Luigi, when you're ready to engage or when you're ready to do x, just reply to this email or just send me a quick message, and we can pick things up. It's light, You know, it's nonforcing, and it's a way that just can just remind them as well as to, yep, okay, about why I initially started talking to them about.

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:08:50]:
The thing is we we we often look at our sales funnel, and we often look at them as sales, and it gets to a point of start to end. Right? And if it doesn't progress to a point of close won, we move it to close lost, and then that's it. But this is the opportunity that If they fall out of your sales funnel, if they're not ready to buy in the next 30, 60, 91, 20 days, and they've gotta come out because of all the reasons why, you know, your your your company might be setting up some certain protocols. If they're not ready to buy, they've gotta come out of your pipeline. Just think about it. They should be going into your relationship funnel. And those two funnels will always connect. Because if you put them into your relationship funnel, and you're educating them, and you're creating value, and you're sending them an email or a newsletter or, like I said, that LinkedIn message, or you're posting content about a particular topic, at some point, when their state of play changes, they'll come back into your sales funnel.

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:09:56]:
And in fact, when you do that outreach again, maybe in 3 or 6 months time to give somebody a call and say, hey, Dave. It's been a few months since we connected. I thought I'd connect because I've got some insight about ABC. Be open to having a chat about it. The the the the the level of tension will be a lot lower because you've earned the right over the past 3, 4, 5, 6 months because you've educated them, You've given value. You've shown them that, you know what, you're not just a transactional salesperson that's here to do a deal. You're here for the long. You're here for the marathon.

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:10:29]:

David Fastuca [00:10:31]:
Just a quick interruption to let you know about a free resource that Luigi and I wanna hand over to you. This resource has helped lift close won rates to over 73% on average. Plus, you'll get a b to b sales newsletter that drops weekly where you can learn what it takes to build a repeatable sales process and creating a pipeline full of qualified deals. To get this resource, just go to growth Forum dot I o forward slash newsletter or click the link in this episode and sign up today. One thing you said there again, right, and I always like picking up on because you you don't realize this is a little bit of a thing for you, Lou. You don't realize the gold that you sent across. But one word that you said there, or a couple of words, was earn the right. We talk about this all time.

David Fastuca [00:11:19]:
Earn the right to talk to your prospects. Earn your right to ask for something. And and that comes into key right there. And we've got to stop thinking about our sales process as being this linear growth, like, you know, growing a business, you start from day 1, and it's just a straight line up into the corner, and everything's great. It's if you've seen those images, you know, posted all over LinkedIn or Instagram, business is, you know, a squiggly line. You go up, you go back, you go down, you go backwards, and so is sales. So is the sales process. They might start on the path looking like they're going great, then bang, life happens.

David Fastuca [00:11:54]:
They might have something life changing happening to them, like a death in their family or something like that, and it's just reshuffled all their priorities. So they're starting, you know, from the start again. So try and get out of this, you know, linear path of, I've gotta follow my sequence. I've gotta follow the right steps because life can come in the way.

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:12:14]:
Yeah. Absolutely. And and and and this is this is a different mindset. It's a mindset of, I'm just here because I wanna have a talk to you. I wanna I wanna get a deal done. Right? The mindset that I am asking you to consider listening to this podcast, it's a true mindset of my role is to give, give, nurture, educate. And when I'm constantly putting out that type of content, and if you think about it and I'll reference a Gartner study. Right? A lot of Gartner studies, and there was even 6ยข study showed this, that most buyers, they will engage with the salesperson when they're 70 to 80% down the funnel.

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:12:53]:
They've already done a level of education. So think about it. If you'll be if you have been that person that's been at the forefront of continuing to educate your buyers and sharing insight and different content pieces, and showing them that you actually care about them and care about their situation, and you're just trying to add value without any ask, there's a good chance that they'll respond in kind. Right? Because the law of reciprocity will kick in. And I've got so many examples, Dave, of how this strategy has enabled me to build a very strong relationship pipeline. Okay? And that relationship funnel that we talk about, for me, is where the equity sits because that's fully transferable. Doesn't matter if I'm in one company and I move to another, my relationship funnel actually comes with me. It doesn't sit within my organization.

Luigi Prestinenzi [00:13:46]:
So this is a this is a really key topic for everyone. For all of you listening to this, I really want you to take this away, that your relationship funnel is something when you invest in over time, it'll give you that return. There's a compound. There's a compound return that you will get each time you make the decision to invest in your relationship funnel.

#242: How To Build A "Relationship Pipeline" in B2B Sales
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