sales strategy

How sales leaders can keep their pipeline clean (without nagging reps)

lemlist team
Last Update
Oct 24, 2023
Reading Time
7 min.

Many Sales VPs - and sometimes reps - face the challenge of sending this message to the team doing outreach:

Nadja message to reps to clean their pipelines

Btw this is Nadja, our Head of Sales.

But how do you go from sending these messages every week to having a sales funnel workflow that keeps you focused on closing without having to do boring data entry?

Find the perfect CRM setup for your team

Before digging into the nitty-gritty, you need to figure out what CRM your sales team actually needs.

Try to break this down into your top 3 must-haves so you can set up a workflow that will make you and your team the most efficient.

Here’s what lemlist's Head of Sales was looking for in her CRM:

  • A tool specifically built for sales teams to manage their pipeline

Okay, a sales CRM...but what does that even mean?

First and foremost, we want it to feel like a salesperson built it.

We need things like reports that monitor each rep's progress, native integrations that make it easy (and free) to connect to our sales stack, and to be able to onboard new reps as fast as possible so we can get them talking to leads asap.

  • Connects with her funnel seamlessly so no message slips through the cracks

Here's what lemlist's outbound funnel looks like:

lemlist outbound sales funnel

As you can see, one of our key lead gen aspects is getting info on LinkedIn that will help us in our outreach stage.

We need data points such as name, professional email address, job position, industry, years of experience, etc.

But to be able to personalize at scale, we dig even deeper and find buying triggers. For example, we like to target companies that are hiring because this means they are growing!

So for lemlist, one of the target buckets may be companies that are in growth mode or just announced a hiring.

Targeted LinkedIn search to add to CRM

And the goal was to get the info from our searches transferred into our outreach and CRM tools so our leads can move through the funnel seamlessly.

  • Reporting to show the progress reps are making and how their campaigns are doing

Doing reports is not about capturing every single data point and entering info in manually.

That job would really suck.

weekly reporting meme

Instead, what we want is a clear overview of key metrics and a sharp interpretation which then gives us meaningful action points!

Pipedrive reports overview

We also want action points from our lead captured seamlessly so we can see what campaigns they were a part of and what actions they made.

For instance, if they clicked on my meeting link, but haven't booked the meeting yet. We want to know that so we can identify trends or add in extra steps if needed!

follow your lead's activity in Pipedrive based on lemlist actions

And that was Nadja's vision for our sales funnel. All the info transferred with as little manual actions as possible. 🔥

To make this possible, her tool stack was:

  • CRM tool -> Pipedrive
  • Sales engagement tool -> lemlist
  • Research platform -> LinkedIn

Interested to see how to set up this sales funnel and what the results were?

In the next chapter you'll get a full breakdown.

How to keep sales pipelines clean an closing rates high

Not gonna lie, sometimes the part of explaining how sales processes involving CRM tools work can get a bit complicated.

complicated pipeline integration meme

We're gonna break the entire process down into five straightforward steps.

[Step 1] Integrating Pipedrive with lemlist

The good thing about integrating lemlist with Pipedrive is that you have a native integration at your disposal. This makes it easy to set up and affordable to scale.

We want to automate sharing of all relevant info about prospects as much as possible so there is no questioning "what happened with this lead" in our weekly calls.

LinkedIn DMs, tracking email responses, marking positive replies as interested... all those actions should be recorded in the CRM automatically.

Integrating Pipedrive is super just need to connect the account in settings.

integrations settings to connect Pipedrive

Then, Nadja needed to add the info she wanted to collect about her leads as data fields in Pipedrive. So basically when she collects info from LinkedIn through lemlist it will go straight into that person's profile in Pipedrive.

Quick tip: Don't forget to enable lemlist to "sync your campaign's name and lead status in your CRM" by clicking the toggle as shown below.
synch info between lemlist and CRM

And by integrating a CRM with your sales outbound tool, you have two choices:

  1. Import leads from the CRM to your outreach campaigns
  2. Transfer interested leads only to the CRM from your outbound tool

Our sales team decided to go with the second option and reverse-engineer the funnel.

Why? So Nadja doesn't have to ask where dead leads are going and so reps can focus on closing the leads that are most likely to convert and keep their pipelines clean.

And we'll know show you how you can set this it up too using a real sales campaign example in the next step...

[Step 2] Create your outreach campaign

Next step? Reps can create campaigns that will get them more replies and transfer interested leads as new deals in Pipedrive.

In our example above, we were targeting accounts that had recently grown their sales team or are currently hiring.

Now we want to set up a cold email template for this specific audience. Here's what it would look like:

Marouane campaign example

What makes this template special?

  • Initial relationship was built on LinkedIn

As you can see, there are 3 steps prior to even thinking about sending a cold email.

First, we visit their LinkedIn profile and invite them to connect. Even though this is done on autopilot, you want this action to be completed one after the other. Important rule, no more than 20 connect requests a day.

LinkedIn steps

The third step is a manual task. Here, lemlist will remind us when the time comes to engage on our lead's LinkedIn content.

Instead of LinkedIn, you or your reps can choose any platform you like.

manual step to build relationships
  • Cold email starts with a custom icebreaker

A customized intro line is your first impression. It breaks the ice and shows your prospect that you know them.

I'll show you in a minute you to add them directly from LinkedIn, but if you feel like you need an in-depth guide on intro lines, we got you.

  • Personalized video thumbnail that grabs attention and boosts your click rate

The image invites you to click in a really cool way. There's a custom image with prospect's LinkedIn profile screenshot (updates dynamically which is super cool).

Meaning, every lead has their own unique image which then takes them to a unique landing page.

If you decide to use this tactic, make sure your video delivers a value-add for your audience. Alternatively, if you're not feeling like using a video, you can link other piece of content, but it has to be valuable.

Quick tip: Use personalized videos and landing pages to get more replies.

The results were pretty good if we do say so ourselves, 29% reply rate and 18% interested rate.

Marouane's campaign results

The next step is to ensure that all prospects marked as interested are automatically added to our pipeline.

That's why we'll go to our Campaign > Settings, and modify them accordingly.

Marouane's Pipedrive settings in his campaign

Next, we want another two cool things to happen.

First, data enrichment for LinkedIn...but also email enrichment with Dropcontact that will find a professional email address for every prospect automagically.

Automating boring tasks so that we can spend more time personalizing our approach and building relationships.

Stay in Settings, but this time scroll to Scanners.

Scanner options to import data

Alternatively, if you're creating a campaign through the Campaign Creator mode, lemlist will ask you straight away if you want to use these scanners.

choose scanners to enrich data from leads

Keep in mind you need to have the Dropcontact account to be able to find the email addresses of your prospects.

Great, so the campaign is ready.

Now comes the vital part, adding the right leads.

[Step 3] Stop adding the wrong leads to your pipeline

51% of your outbound success depends on the quality of work you put in this step.

With this in mind, Nadja wanted to inspire her sales reps to approach research and qualification with laser focus.

Here's the exact framework you and your reps can follow 👇

filter to identify companies that are growing

Some interesting searches to test:

  • Followers of your LinkedIn page + are in your ICP. If they follow your company it means they are interested in this industry, and maybe even your product/service specifically!
  • Combine people that recently got promoted + used to work for one of your best clients. This way they already know your tool, and if they are in the position to make a decision you can land in their inbox at the right time.

Not sure how to do this? No worries, check out how to target leads at scale + 23 other targeting tactics you can use.

Plus, you can add the results of your LinkedIn searches to your campaign in a flash using the lemlist's Chrome extension.

automatically add leads to a campaign from LinkedIn

However, a much smarter strategy is to further qualify the prospects in the list before you move them to your campaign. This is a strategy that will bring you better results, for sure!

Visit all profiles on the list and figure out why your product/service is relevant for them in the first place. Understand how you can build a relationship.

Plus, while in the research mode, you can write personalized intro lines on the spot to leave a good first impression and motivate people to read the rest of the email.

genuine personalized intro to import to lemlist

But make sure your icebreaker sounds genuine and doesn't feel like fake flattery.

As soon as you click to add them to the campaign from the extension, all prospects will be added to your campaign.

Dropcontact will take a few minutes to find their email addresses, while LinkedIn enrichment will be completed instantly.

Lovely jubbly!

[Step 4] Keeping your pipeline clean

The big question here is why do we want to import only interested leads in Pipedrive? Why we don't import all of them?

Reason number one is... having leads that are interested in Pipedrive only helps Nadja keep team's pipelines clean.

Plus, a CRM has limits for the number of open deals that you can have in the database. Meaning, you can get slapped with extra fees if you go over this number. And yes, they are absurd. One of our reps once faced a $40,000 fine.

Ouch is right! 😅

But, I digress.

A clean pipeline keeps you sharp and focused as you're focusing on prospects that have already expressed interest.

You're 100% focused on closing and Pipedrive should tell you how you're performing and what can be improved.

deal status in Pipedrive after lemlist automatic import

And all the intel around prospects will be in the deals. So you and your reps can track all the info from lemlist and LinkedIn (campaign they were sent, company name/size/industry, etc.)

The best part?

You also have every action your lead did so far documented in Pipedrive automatically.

example of person's profile history in Pipedrive with data transferred

[Step 5] Reporting that makes us better

Once sales reps have all this set up, the rest becomes easy. You just need to look at the data to see what’s working and what’s not.

For Nadja, this means separating each pipeline per team member. She also adds ones like “outbound” and “inbound” so she can see how all the deals are moving.

Then she applies filters (like been open past a certain time) to see which deals are taking too long. And the most important part for her is monitoring which leads have been in the “booked demo” state for too long and haven’t yet converted.

Pipedrive KPI reports

And finally, she checks lemlist to see how her team is doing with their outreach campaigns.

For us we like to use labels to organize entire groups of campaigns like “outbound” and easily identify if we might be using the wrong tactics for a certain approach.

lemlist reports for outbound campaigns

Outbound benchmarks to target:

  • Open rates: 50%+
  • Reply rates : 8%+ for broad, 20%+ for targeted outreach
  • Conversion rates: 10%+

And there you have it. That's how our reps are able to manage their pipelines by connecting the tools, and how Nadja can then monitor the entire funnel and check out reps' performance.

But going back to our original goal, checkout my Slack search after they implemented this to see if Nadja still asks for pipeline updates:

slack search with no results for pipeline update reminders

[Step 6] Bonus step for sales grinders

Sometimes you book a call with a lead and they don't show up later on.

I know, it sucks.

perfectly targeted lead doesn't show up meme

Instead of trying to manually reschedule a call, find a new time slot, and hope that this lead will finally join your Zoom link... 😰

There's a better way to counter this situation.

This is a tactic that help us score +36% saved leads.

To fire this up, go to Pipedrive -> Settings -> Data fields -> Add custom field button -> Person field.

Pipedrive CRM fields

Create a field "Didn't come to the demo/call".

The main idea is that, if you put "yes", these people will get a follow-up email automatically.

You should also choose "Autocomplete" under "Field type".

Piopedrive integration

Then, we want to create a new "Contacts" Filter in Pipedrive.

Add filters in Pipedrive CRM

You can guess how it will look:

Pipedrive filter

Finally, we'll create a new campaign in lemlist for these follow-up emails only.

For our sending list, we'll leverage the Pipedrive filter we just created. This will add people in as soon as we label them in Pipedrive. One click, that's it. No need to do anything else.

Pipedrive filter and settings to create your campaign

So you can add your new filter, then make sure to enable full synch and also select that you're okay with duplicates (since these are re-targeted leads).

One last thing you don't want to miss in this setup is to go to Settings in your lemlist campaign and tick the "Automatic review" box.

lemlist settings to automatically review leads in follow-up

By doing so, you're ensuring all emails are sent automatically, without having to review them manually.

So if someone misses a demo, all we need to do is open the deal in Pipedrive and put "yes" next to the "Didn't come to demo" field.

And this lead will automatically be added in the lemlist campaign.

That's it!

Your turn now! 💪

Wrapping up

Alright y’all, that’s the end. Nadja and the sales team lived happily ever after, making it through the mess of pipeline organization in one piece. And you can do it too! I have full faith in you 🚀

One last tip for today! Make sure to join the lemlist family community as there are more than 19,000 people who are building all kinds of sales funnels and with whom you can exchange notes.

trying to connect all your tools meme

lemlist team
Your source of actionable outreach tips and strategies that will help you get replies and grow your business.

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