How to Add Over $1M to Your Sales Pipeline in Less than 90 days (a 12-Step Process)

How to Grow Your Sales Pipeline

Most B2B companies suck at cold email.

That doesn’t sound like a big deal at first, but sucking at cold email is actually detrimental to the growth of a company.

Why? Because cold emails are an insanely effective way to add revenue opportunities to your sales pipeline.

Average Cold Emails

A study of 250,000 sales emails showed an average reply rate of just 12.5% to initial cold emails.

So if you send a cold email to 100 of your ideal clients, 88 of them won’t even bother to respond.

That’s really bad, folks.

88 people (that could represent hundreds of thousands, maybe MILLIONS of dollars in potential revenue for your company) won’t even let you get to first base.

The strategy & process outlined below changes that.

By implementing this strategy into your organization, you’ll go from getting 12.5% reply rates, to upwards of 80% reply rates.

The Strategy

What’s the magic bullet, you ask?

A podcast.

I know what you’re thinking: “Don’t you need tons of listeners for a podcast to drive actual revenue?”

Absolutely not.

A podcast can drive revenue even if your mom is the only one listening to the show. Because podcasts aren’t about closing deals with listeners.

Podcasts drive new revenue because of the GUESTS that you feature on the show.

Let me explain…

A podcast allows you to connect with practically anyone that you want to create a relationship with (including your ideal clients), by simply asking that person to be a guest on your show.

Think about it.

Are you more likely to respond to a total stranger that tries to sell you their product or service…or an email from a podcast host that wants to feature you as an expert guest on their show?

Proof That It Works

We launched our podcast (B2B Growth) in January of 2016. At the time we launched the show, we had just under $60,000 of annual recurring revenue in our sales pipeline.

By the end of March 2016 (less than 90 days after launching the show), we had over $1.2 million of annual recurring revenue in our sales pipeline.

Will all of that pipeline turn into closed deals? Of course not.

But if JUST ONE of those deals closes, the podcast will deliver a positive return on investment.

Note: As of May 2016, one deal for our business represents $42,000 of annual recurring revenue (based on our month-to-month service offering priced at $3,500/mo)

Return on Investment

So let’s say you decide to produce a weekly podcast for your company. That’s 52 podcast interviews over the course of the year.

52 interviews = 52 new relationships with your ideal clients

So of the 52 new relationships that this strategy brings, how many will it convert into paying customers?

Conversion Averages

That’s obviously impossible for me to say, but we can look at the averages.

We don’t have time to cover the conversion averages for every possible industry, so instead we’ll look at the software industry.

According to Capterra, the average conversion rate from a qualified opportunity to a sale is 27%.

Note: Keep in mind, that statistic is reflective of the software industry.

So before we calculate the projected ROI of this strategy, let’s round down and use a 15% conversion rate from qualified opportunity to closed deal.

This is an extremely conservative conversion rate considering that this strategy creates a genuine relationship between you & each opportunity (which isn’t the case with a typical qualified opportunity).

But I would much rather be conservative and not stuff your head full of bloated numbers.

New Revenue

So If you were to convert just 15% of the 52 guests that you feature on your show each year, that would equate to 8 new clients.

Note: It’s important to note here that the podcast strategy is especially effective for B2B companies that have an average customer lifetime value of at least $25,000.

So let’s say that you’re at the very bottom of that spectrum, with your average customer lifetime value at $25,000.

If you were to close 8 new deals in the next year, from the 52 guests that you feature on your show…that would result in $200,000 of revenue.

Cost

If you pay $3,500 per month to have our team execute this strategy for you (more on this later on), that would be an annual cost of $42,000.

Note: If you decide to build an internal team to execute this strategy for you, it will cost you somewhere in the ballpark of $150,00 annually (paying for the project manager, designer, copywriter, and admin staff that it takes to execute this strategy)

Projected Return on Investment

So the return on investment from this strategy (if you have our team execute the strategy on your behalf), based on the conservative conversion rate and the conservative lifetime value of your customer…would be $158,000.

ROI for Larger Deal Sizes

I was talking with a friend of mine, and he mentioned that he recently closed a $500,000 deal with a big software company…and that was just the FIRST YEAR of a deal that will hopefully renew for several years to come.

I share that story, because most of you reading this article have an average customer lifetime value of much higher than $25,000.

Lifetime Value = $100,000

So let’s say that the lifetime value of an average deal for you is $100,000.

Still a pretty conservative number, but let’s figure out the ROI of this strategy based on it.

New Revenue

Keeping the conversion rate the same at 15%, 8 new clients represent $800,000 in revenue for you.

Cost

But the monthly rate of our service (podcast strategy execution) doesn’t fluctuate.

So your annual cost to achieve that $800,000 in revenue is still only $42,000.

Projected Return on Investment

Which puts the return on investment in this scenario at $758,000.

Side Benefit of This Strategy

Pretty compelling right?

You wanna know the craziest part?

These ROI calculations don’t even account for the increased revenue that will come from creating 52 podcasts’ worth of incredible content that’s catered to helping your target audience.

Content Marketing

I don’t need to tell you the value of content marketing….because everyone and their mother is already telling you how effective it is.

According to the B2B Content Marketing Report from Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, 67% of B2B buyers rely more on content to research and make B2B purchasing decisions than they did a year ago.

But 60% of B2B marketers say that producing that engaging content that buyers want is their biggest challenge.

Content Creation Machine

With the podcasting strategy we outline below, you’re doing much more than just building profitable 1 to 1 relationships with your ideal clients.

With the content you’re creating in the podcast interviews, you’re fueling a content marketing machine.

Where most B2B companies are struggling to create compelling content, you’ll be cranking out great content with barely any effort.

Because your prospects will be spoon feeding you what matters most to them when you interview them on your show.

Building Real Relationships

Once you’ve featured your ideal clients as guests on your show, you have a natural opportunity to cultivate a real relationship with them.

The Path to a Relationship

You get to go back & forth with them to determine a topic for the interview.

You get to spend 20 minutes on a Skype call with them for the recording of the interview.

You get to email them when their episode goes live.

You get to email them when you repurpose their episode into a blog post.

You get to interact with them on social media as you promote their episode.

You get to leave them a recommendation on LinkedIn, letting the world know how much you enjoyed interviewing them on your show.

All of these interactions add up…and the result is an actual RELATIONSHIP with your ideal client.

Initiating the Sales Conversation

So when the time comes to initiate the sales conversation with your prospect (about 2 weeks after their episode goes live), the likelihood of closing a deal skyrockets.

Because the prospect already KNOWS, LIKES, & TRUSTS you before the sales call ever takes place!

How to Execute the Strategy

If you’re a B2B company and the average lifetime value of your customer is $25,000 or higher, this strategy is a no-brainer.

But how do you actually execute it?

One of two ways:

1) Have Us Do it For You

Like I mentioned above, you can allow the Sweet Fish team to execute this strategy on your behalf.

All you have to do is spend 12-15 minutes per week interviewing your guests…and our team does everything else.

What We Do

a) Find & contact the guests for your show (aka your ideal clients)

b) Determine the episode topics for each guest

c) Schedule the interviews

d) Edit the audio for each episode

e) Graphic design

f) Publish to WordPress & iTunes

e) Repurpose the audio content into blog posts

f) Notification emails to each guest when their episode goes live

g) We even initiate the sales conversation with each guest on your behalf

If option 1 is what you want to do (or if you have any questions at all), email Jonathan Green at [email protected].

Jonathan is one of the nicest dudes on the planet…and he’ll make sure that your show gets launched in the next 30 days.

OR

2) Do it Yourself

Follow the process we’ve outlined below to produce the podcast yourself.

WARNING: Most podcasts never make it beyond 7 episodes, because it takes a ton of work to produce a show. So if you decide to go with option 2, proceed with caution.

For the brave souls that want to produce their own podcast, here’s your roadmap:

12-Step Process to Grow Your Sales Pipeline

1) Prospecting

At the heart of this strategy is finding your ideal clients, then tracking down their email address. Use a tool like LeadFuze to make the daunting task of prospecting a little bit easier.

2) Outreach

Once you’ve found your ideal guests, reach out and ask them to be a guest on your show. Use a tool like Connector to do the heavy lifting for you.

3) Follow Up

When your potential guests respond to your email, use a tool like FollowUpThen to follow up with them until you get a time on the calendar.

People are busy. Even if they say yes to your initial request, it might take several follow ups to get the interview booked.

4) Guest Chooses Topic

This is the secret sauce to this strategy. When you’re going back and forth with your future interviewees, tell them that you allow each of your guests to choose the specific topic for their episode.

This takes the pressure off of yourself, and it allows your guests to choose topics that they’re passionate about.

5) Schedule

Email ping pong sucks. Going back and forth 18 times to figure out a day/time that works for you and your guest is no longer necessary.

Use a tool like Calendly and kiss your scheduling headaches goodbye.

6) Prep

Before each interview, have a 5 minute “pre-call” with your guest. During this time, ask them for 3-5 talking points that are related to their topic.

You can say something like: “Before we get started, what are 3-5 things that you’d like to make sure we cover during the interview as it relates to [topic]”.

This will give structure to each interview, and it will make it much easier to repurpose the audio into written content later on.

7) Record

Record each interview on Skype. You can use a tool like eCamm Call Recorder for Skype to do this.

We recommend that each interview be 12-15 minutes.

8) Publish

Once your content has been recorded, you can have an audio engineer remove any “um”s and awkward pauses.

You can then upload the audio to a podcast host (like Libsyn).

You can also use a tool like Smart Podcast Player to publish the episode to your website.

You’ll want to have a copywriter write show notes to accompany each episode. These don’t have to be lengthy. A 5-7 sentence summary is plenty.

9) Notify

Once the audio is live in iTunes and on your website, you’ll want to send an email to the featured guest and let them know.

Send them the links to their episode along with a pre-written tweet for them to share with their audience.

This is a great way to get organic exposure to your podcast by leveraging the networks of each guest.

10) Repurpose

Since the content is based in audio, you can easily send the episode link to a copywriter. The copywriter can repurpose the audio into a well-formatted blog post (using this checklist).

You can use the blog post on your website, Medium, LinkedIn, or any site where you’d like to guest post.

The copywriter can also pull quotes from the audio that you can use for images and social media updates.

11) Promote

Now it’s time to promote your content like crazy.

First, have your design team create headline & quote images for each episode.

Then use the visuals you’ve designed and promote the content using tools like Buffer, Social Oomph, or Edgar.

12) Initiate

This entire strategy is useless (from a sales perspective) if you don’t initiate the sales conversation a couple weeks after each episode goes live.

You’ve done the hard work of building a genuine relationship with your prospect, and now it’s time to turn that relationship into revenue.

Conclusion

Do you believe us now? Producing a podcast is a ton of stinkin’ work.

You might be tempted to tell yourself that you’ll make the time to execute this strategy yourself…but let’s be honest.

You won’t make the time.

You won’t produce the show.

And you’ll be leaving millions of dollars in potential revenue on the table.

Time to Take Action

If you represent a B2B company, and the average lifetime value of your customer is at least $25,000…let’s talk.

Click here, and let’s get your podcast launched within the next 30 days.

James Carbary

James Carbary is the founder of Sweet Fish Media, a podcast agency for B2B brands. He’s a contributor for the Huffington Post & Business Insider, and he also co-hosts a top-ranked podcast according to Forbes: B2B Growth. When James isn’t interviewing the smartest minds in B2B marketing, he’s drinking Cherry Coke Zero, eating Swedish Fish, and hanging out with the most incredible woman on the planet (who he somehow talked into marrying him).

Posted on April 29, 2016 in B2B Sales, Blog Post

James Carbary

About the Author

James Carbary is the founder of Sweet Fish Media, a podcast agency for B2B brands. He’s a contributor for the Huffington Post & Business Insider, and he also co-hosts a top-ranked podcast according to Forbes: B2B Growth. When James isn’t interviewing the smartest minds in B2B marketing, he’s drinking Cherry Coke Zero, eating Swedish Fish, and hanging out with the most incredible woman on the planet (who he somehow talked into marrying him).

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