As we enter a new year, we are often left with a sales pipeline that looks like it could be drying up. This is usually a result of a big final sales push in December to try and match the predictions that we made at the beginning of the year. With everyone focusing on making as many sales as possible, salespeople breeze through as many prospects as possible without regard for maintaining the pipeline for the New Year.

Even when February rolls around, drumming up new prospects typically takes a backseat due to all of the catch-up taking place and new projects starting. But generating new business should be as much of a concern as retaining existing business, so here are some tips for not only building your sales pipeline this year but also maintaining it to ensure it doesn’t run dry.

Social Media

Social media platforms are an essential part of any business strategy and are becoming increasingly important, so keeping them up to date with relevant, interesting and fresh content is paramount. We know creating a social media presence for your business is vital, but how do you generate leads from Twitter or Facebook?

One way to prospect on social media is to take part in dialogue with your followers and other businesses that you want to target. Approach it like you would traditional networking and create conversation; the only difference is that it’s online and eliminates the cost of having to travel somewhere to have face-to-face interaction with a small number of people. Online, the prospect pool is a lot larger – another bonus.

If your business has produced an e-book or has other amazing resources, you could consider gating that content. Putting a barrier on your content allows you to gather information to use later in email marketing. For example, people willing to submit their information to you are more likely to actually be interested in your business and what you’re offering – a warm lead. This barrier also means that you can track the interest of that particular piece of content to see whether you should create more resources like this in the future.

When gating your content, you need to create a simple, user-friendly form for people to submit their details such as name and email address. As soon as something seems complicated or is asking too much, people become discouraged and are more likely to click away and not fill in any details.

Social media advertising on platforms like Facebook and Twitter is a relatively cheap solution. Depending on how you set your advertisement up, whom you try to target, your industry, and your country, the average cost per click in the United States is just $0.24 and similarly in the United Kingdom it is only 29p ($0.35 for comparison), according to eCommerceMILO.

Launching an ad on social media is just one piece of the puzzle. For it to be successful, you need to take care in creating your desired audience. On Facebook, for example, you can choose from gender, age, location, job and interests. Don’t forget about the content of your ad. You need to produce engaging and to-the-point copy alongside a grabbing graphic to catch the attention of potential prospects and convince them to click through to your Website.

Telemarketing

Telemarketing is typically branded with a bad stereotype. Many people see telemarketing as nuisance calls or people in a call center making cold calls and trying to badger you into a sale because they’re working on commission. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. It isn’t all about the sale when it comes to picking up the phone and making a call. Putting together and carrying out a telemarketing campaign can aid you in research about your target market, help to improve your direct marketing and increase the efficiency of your sales team, in addition to achieving any of your sales targets.

Similar to social media, telemarketing allows you to start a conversation with your prospects but in an even more targeted way because before you pick up the phone you are more likely to have researched who you are calling. With more information, you’ll be able to tailor your call to them, which will make it more likely for them to listen to what you have to say instead of waiting for the moment that they can interrupt, tell you they aren’t interested and then hang up.

Some people choose to do their telemarketing in house. If you do choose to carry out a campaign internally, it’s important to be prepared and be enthusiastic when talking to your potential customer. If you act and talk as if you aren’t interested and would much rather be doing something else, they will feel the same, as your attitude rubs off on them. No one is ever going to be interested in purchasing from someone who doesn’t believe in the product or service that they are calling about. With this kind of outlook, it suggests that the product or service in question isn’t worth anyone’s time or money and the person on the other end of the phone will believe it.

Some businesses don’t have the resources to finance a telemarketing campaign in house, however, as hiring and training employees to carry out such duties can be burden enough without the added extras of buying data and then the added telephone and energy costs accrued as a result of these extra employees. As a result, many choose to outsource their telemarketing to companies that are experienced in carrying out such campaigns and whose employees are just as experienced and have proven their ability to convert potential customers from a data list into successful leads.

Email Marketing

Email as a platform for lead generation isn’t naturally the place to give the hard sell. No one is interested in reading your sales or marketing spiel; if anything, people are more interested in learning and taking something away from an email rather than feeling as though they’re trying to be pressured into a sale. Prospects have a lot more power when it comes to email marketing compared to telemarketing because you aren’t talking to them in the moment on the phone. It is up to the recipient of the email to make the first move in contacting you or just deleting the email before they’ve even opened it.

When you’re putting together your email to send out to your list of contacts, you need not only to consider the copy but also the subject line. It’s the first thing someone sees in their inbox (besides who the email is coming from). Make sure it summarizes the content but is going to grab their attention to ensure you get a high open rate. You could use a shock tactic or make it seem like there is a kind of urgency to the email, but take care that they relate to and align with your business’s brand.

Beth Walthew is the Managing Director at Prospect Research where she oversees all operations as well as develops strategy for the business. She has over 14 years of experience in marketing and sales.