If your sales budget’s more like a leaky faucet than a money waterfall, don’t sweat it: we’ve all been there.
We all want a sales pipeline on a budget, but the key is to make sure you’re still maximising your team and resources. 🔑 Because creating an efficient sales pipeline isn’t just about saving money. It’s about making money work smarter for you.
When you make every dollar count, you’re not only keeping costs in check, but you’re also setting the stage for sustainable growth. Optimising your sales process is a smart way for you to scale up your business system without breaking the bank!
In this article, we’re going to go over our sales pipeline at Outsourcing Angel and give you 7 simple tips that worked for our internal team:
But before all that, let’s first clarify what falls under “sales pipeline,” so we’re all on the same page. 👀
Sales Pipeline vs. Marketing Pipeline
Once your business system has already been up and running for some time, the lines often blur between what falls under your sales pipeline and your marketing pipeline. 🤔
So let’s go back to the basics for a minute:
In a nutshell, your marketing pipeline is where the journey begins. It’s all about creating awareness and interest in your product or service among a broad audience.
Marketing activities include strategies like content marketing, social media advertising, email campaigns, SEO, and more. In this stage, individuals or businesses showing interest in you are called “leads.”
It’s marketing’s job to educate “cold” leads (uninterested people) so they become “warm” A.K.A. more aware of you and what you offer.
On the other hand, your sales pipeline is where the magic happens. ✨
It’s the stage where you convert those warm leads into paying customers. Now they’re your clients!
In this article, we’re putting the spotlight squarely on streamlining your sales pipeline without spending thousands on apps, platforms, AI, etc. etc.
Now kick back, grab a coffee, and let’s get to it!
Strong Sales Game, Shoestring Budget
At Outsourcing Angel, we’re a 100% remote company that offers scaling up services to fellow businesses. We help entrepreneurs find and implement the right tools, processes, and virtual assistants they need so they can scale up.
We’re forever tweaking how we do things, but currently, this is how our sales system works:
Our remote team has been using the free version of HubSpot for almost five years now. Along with that, we also use the following tools:
And they all fit into the process like this:
Leads visit our website, thanks to the efforts of the marketing team. From there, some people might book a Discovery Call with our Sales team right away. (Yay!)
But what happens more often is that people move around the site a little, download one of our free resources, or take the “Are you ready for a VA?” quiz. The leads take their due diligence in checking us and our services first, and they aren’t ready to book a call just yet.
From there, they’re added to our email marketing system (ActiveCampaign.)
In our email nurture sequence, we do our best to provide leads with valuable information that can help them in some way. This could be tips for sales virtual assistant management, insights about running their business system, and more.
The ideal scenario is that as many leads as possible get so much value from our emails that they decide to get in touch with us. This means they’re “warm” enough now.
Once they’ve booked a Discovery Call (using our Calendly), we have a Make automation that adds them to our customer relationship management system (CRM) right away. Our CRM is HubSpot.
Make and HubSpot help supercharge our sales system.
Make functions like its more popular counterpart, Zapier. But whether you use either Make or Zapier is completely up to you—the best thing about both is that you don’t need any coding skills to use them.
The Make automation automatically creates an item in our HubSpot populated with the name, company, and other details of our warm lead. So no one in our sales team has to punch in that information manually each time!
And so that lead goes along our pipeline—they’re emailed for an appointment, have an appointment scheduled, complete the call with us, receive a proposal, make a deposit, and so on until it’s time for our Operations department to deliver the scaling up or virtual assistant service (or both).
Designing our HubSpot according to our customers’ journey helps keep everyone on the same page. Plus, adding in the automation lessens our manual work. It’s a neat trick to keep our sales budget low while still consistently processing leads one after another like clockwork. So our sales team can just focus on connecting with clients and helping them out as best we can.
We sprinkle in more automation once a lead becomes a client (A.K.A. once they’ve finally paid a deposit. 🤑) This automation adds our new clients to a different sequence in ActiveCampaign, which sends them a welcome message.
Tip: Once a lead is in your client list, take them out of every other list they may belong to. You don’t want them to receive lead nurturing emails—that would just confuse them and make it seem like you don’t have solid management in place. 😬
But if you’re having trouble tweaking your tools to fit your processes, we suggest booking a Discovery Call so we can have a chat and see how we can best help your particular business.
After a short turnaround time, we’ll finish matching clients with a sales virtual assistant (or other VA types) and implement new systems and processes to scale up their business system. But after that, we don’t just disappear!
To make sure our clients have everything they need, our team also created another pipeline in HubSpot just for client tickets.
For every free version of HubSpot, you get one pipeline and you also get one service pipeline. To find it, just click on the “Service” tab then click “Tickets.”
Creating a Service Tickets pipeline in HubSpot is free.
So let’s say you’re not satisfied with your sales virtual assistant after a few weeks because of one reason or another. To keep your mind (and our clients’ minds) at ease, we have a Client Happiness Guarantee.
In a nutshell, you can get free VA replacements whenever you need them, plus a week of extra VA service so you can get settled with your newly chosen VA. We manage those concerns and everything else that comes after closing a sales deal through the FREE HubSpot service pipeline above.
👉 Related: How We Hire Sales Virtual Assistants
It’s where all our tickets are kept, and it follows a simple flow according to the customers’ journey just like in our main sales pipeline. This helps us assess whether a complaint has been attended to, is being attended to, or has been resolved already.
And that’s basically it! 👌
Tweaks and tips to boost your sales system
Now just because our current sales system works well, doesn’t mean we’ll stick to it forever.
What we’ve shared with you is the current iteration of a constant work-in-progress. The tools and platforms we’re using might change their policies or user experience at any time, which means we’d have to adjust as well. 🤷 That’s how it is in business!
That said, we’ve gone through many versions of our sales pipeline, so we thought we’d compile 7 tips based on our experience. Hopefully, this will help you streamline your own sales system so you never lose a customer and cover all your bases (sales-wise).
And the first tip we have to maximise your sales budget is…
Tip #1: Integrate, integrate, integrate
Notice how our HubSpot is connected to our ActiveCampaign, Calendly, and JustCall? Integrating your tools and platforms makes life so much easier: just imagine the clicks you’ll save alone, not to mention the effort you’ll spend typing things up versus when an automation can do it for you in the background.
After you’ve set up an automation (via Make, Zapier, or other means) that connects your platforms, you literally don’t have to lift a finger to do the manual tasks that bother the heck out of you.
The best thing is, you don’t even need years of coding experience or a huge sales budget to set up these automations. Just get into the platform, be curious, ask the right people, maybe watch some YouTube videos, try things out, and you’ll be integrating your sales tools sooner rather than later.
And if you feel more comfortable having someone else do it, our Systemise & Scale Up team is more than happy to help! Just book a Discovery Call and we’ll add you to our sales pipeline right away 😉
Tip #2: Clear the clutter
A messy user interface helps NO ONE. And if you’re managing tons of clients all at once (go you!) a cluttered management system might just waste all your marketing efforts. Just think about it: how are you going to sort out which lead to talk to first? Or which client concern should be processed first? 😫
So that’s our tip #2. Simplify your screen, clear the clutter, and go on an organising spree in your sales system.
For example, in HubSpot, you can view your client items as a list just like this:
Which is fine, but NOT ideal. You want to be able to assess your current workload for a particular area at a glance.
For that, a board view is much more helpful:
You can view your clients’ items according to which stage of the customer journey they’re currently at, whether they’re scheduled for an appointment, just sent their deposit, etc. It could follow a logical flow from left to right like ours (the closer the client is to project implementation, the farther right they are.)
If your sales pipeline is visually presented to you in a cleaner format the moment you hop into your system, you’ll be saving precious minutes you would’ve spent endlessly scrolling through a list view.
Tip #3: Try a scraping tool
If you’re getting REAL tired of typing in tons of info in Google Sheets, then try a free scraping tool!
For example, MagicalAI helps you scrape relevant information for free (name, company name, phone number, etc.) from all open LinkedIn tabs on your screen and auto-populate it on a Google Sheet in just a few clicks. 🤯
No more going back and forth and typing all day long just to compile a list of your leads!
You can check out this YouTube video by MagicalAI to see how you can scrape info from different websites in fast, super easy steps.
Tip #4: Separate your email lists
We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again: separate your email lists! 😤
Your clients have different preferences and needs compared to your leads. By segmenting your list, you can send targeted messages that are highly relevant to each group.
For example, you may want to let your clients know about any upsell opportunities they can avail of for a limited time. That message would be useless for a lead who hasn’t even bought anything from you yet. 🤷
But if you separate your lists, your sales pipeline becomes more air-tight and effective, because your audiences are more inclined to open and interact with emails that address their specific needs or pain points.
And if you play your cards right and have an excellent copywriter on board, this could also mean reduced unsubscribe rates and spam reports.
Tip #5: Personalise where you can
Separating your email lists is ultimately about personalisation, which is our Tip #5. All the emails you receive from companies far and wide already include your name, so try to separate your business system from the rest and personalise your sales system even MORE.
For example, you could try using Connect 365 for your email campaigns.
Connect 365 was originally meant to function like ActiveCampaign with its nurture sequence operating in LinkedIn.
But LinkedIn shut down that access, so what Connect 365 did was to transfer their function into people’s email addresses.
This means you can have an email marketing system that helps with your sales directly from your personal email address. With Connect 365, there’s no unsubscribe button on the emails you send out, so just focus on increasing those open and reply rates! 📈
Of course, personalisation and maximising your sales budget goes WAY beyond emailing.
At Outsourcing Angel, we like to personalise interaction with our clients (especially the long-time ones) by providing the “Rimba” experience.
What’s the “Rimba” experience?
Our Founder and CEO, Linh Podetti, once had an amazing time at Rimba by AYANA Resort in Bali, Indonesia. The staff there were incredibly caring and made her feel really special. This inspired Linh to call it the “Rimba” experience.
The “Rimba experience” is all about doing little acts of kindness to remind our clients that they’re important to us and that our relationship with them is special too.
So here’s how we do it:
Visiting our clients
Our CEO Linh Podetti visiting clients Ricky and Charmaine at the Taste Studios office in Adelaide (right) and visiting client Jade Allerby and congratulating her on her new bundle of joy! (left)
Our CEO Linh is a social butterfly and will find every opportunity to visit and catch up with our clients in person. It’s always very eye-opening to us to see how our client’s businesses operate and their workspaces and our bond with them grows stronger with each visit.
Client milestones, both work and personal, are just as important to us as our own! We’ll always make sure to send special gifts and care packages and Linh will of course make in-person visits to them too.
Handwritten personalised cards to clients
Handwritten messages from our Virtual Assistants to their clients
We use SendOutCards to create personalised cards with special handwritten messages from our team or their dedicated Sales Virtual Assistant (or other VA types) to thank them for being amazing clients or to commemorate special moments.
Feedback from our client on a personalised card we organised for them with a photo of their family
SendOutCards even allows us to personalise the front of the card with an image of the client or a special memory and we always get positive feedback!
Celebrating client and VA anniversaries
Feedback from our client from an anniversary gift sent to them on behalf of Outsourcing Angel and their virtual assistant
We also use HubSpot to collect all of our client information and have notifications set for upcoming client and VA anniversaries. This allows us to organise surprise gifts to thank our clients and celebrate the wonderful anniversary of their VA relationship!
Tip #6: Outsource to a Sales Virtual Assistant
With a capable Sales Virtual Assistant, you can ensure the smooth processing of your leads and clients—all while you’re focusing on higher-level sales tasks like networking, creating effective lead magnets, and long-term strategising.
A great Sales Virtual Assistant creates an even better experience for your customers. They ultimately serve as your customers’ advocate from initial outreach, maintaining key relationships, after-sales support, and more. Getting their help helps you cover all your bases so you can serve your clients as best as possible in every step of their journey.
Tip #7: Maximise free versions first
Lastly, maximise free versions of whichever platform or app you’d like to use in your sales system. Explore EVERYTHING that you can do in that free version. Have a think if some features could fit into your pipeline and how you could make the most of them—before you get out your credit card and pay for subscriptions out of your sales budget.
That’s how we ended up using the free version of HubSpot for almost five years and counting. 😉
Now you might be thinking, “But I have too much going on in sales, free versions just aren’t enough!”
Our answer to that is Tip #1: Integrate! 🧑💻
If you have more free time than a sales budget, then try exploring integration options to streamline your sales pipeline. This helps you avoid shelling out hundreds of dollars each month in the long run. There may be other options out there, but this is the solution that worked best for our team. 🤗
And remember: sales is only one part of your entire business system. You can potentially connect all your other departments seamlessly with the right tools and processes.