The Best Ways to Manage Your Sales Pipeline
The success of any business is reliant on many factors, including a sales pipeline. According to research, approximately 75% of sales managers prioritise sales pipeline review meetings with their sales reps several times a month.
However, more than 60% of respondents highlight that their companies are not working effectively regarding the management of their sales pipelines, which means something has to change. The entire world, including the world of business, is digitally connected, making marketing a section of business that is driven by data and information. Therefore, there is no excuse for poor performance because there is a lot of available information to work with.
What is a sales pipeline?
In simple terms, a sales pipeline is a way of tracking the development of deals that you have or are expecting to close within a specific amount of time. We understand that the term ‘pipeline’ makes use of the principle of an actual pipeline in which a deal moves from the source of its initial contact with your salesperson, to the consideration of the deal by the client, and onto closure. The path that any deal takes to completion is known as the sales process, which is a very important aspect of making and keeping track of a sales pipeline. This is where proper sales pipeline management comes in.
If, after analysis, you find improvements in your sales pipeline, this means that there is an increase in the prospect of moving a deal from one stage to another, which increases the opportunity to close more deals. One of the best motivations for improving your sales pipelines is revenue growth.
It is also a fact that companies that have a well-defined formal sales process show more growth in revenue than companies that do not. It is clear that proper sales pipeline management is vital to the closing of more deals as well as the overall health of your organisation.
Here are the best practices for proper sales pipeline management:
We have put together some tips and practices that would help you improve your entire sales pipeline management process and, eventually, improve your business.
Make it a habit to follow up
In whichever market you find your company, it is safe to say that buyers have more choices when choosing the best products and services. The best sales representatives take responsibility for following up leads to land sales. It is not an easy task to follow up leads; in fact, it is one of the most challenging tasks for sales teams.
One of the best ways to follow up leads is to set alerts to remind you when a follow up is due with a prospective client. One of the best ways to do this is to automate the process using a sales email template, which prompts you to follow up on a specific date and time.
Continuously monitor pipeline metrics
One of the constants with a sales pipeline is change. Things constantly change and it is important to ensure that you are on top of your major sales metrics, which include:
- The sales velocity: the average lifetime of a deal before completion
- The close-ratio: the average percentage of deals that you close
- The average size of deals in your pipeline per time
- The number of deals in your pipeline per time
This is not something to be taken for granted and for those who understand sales pipeline management, they know that this has to be considered on a weekly basis. This would give you regular opportunities to review the wellbeing of your sales pipeline and your overall progress.
Tracking results over time is a useful indicator of how well the improvements and changes you make to your sales process are helping your company’s overall growth.
Discard dead leads
One of the first things we focus on are high-value leads. However, sometimes, things do not go the way we expect, and when that happens, we have to know when to let things go. Letting go of a lead you have been pursuing for a long time is somewhat difficult, but it is better to do this rather than pursuing leads that have no future.
Once a prospective client demonstrates a lack of enthusiasm or interest about a deal, you may find it difficult to reach them, or it becomes difficult to push them through to the next stage of your sales pipeline. Whatever the case, you must consider this to be a dead lead that you need to let go of. It is important to understand that, in sales pipeline management, when sales progress slowly or not at all, you have to let them go or waste a lot of time.
Improve and review your pipeline process
This is another important aspect of sales pipeline management because a technique that works today might not be as effective in the coming months. An effective practice is to regularly review your sales pipeline techniques to ensure that things are functioning properly and are not static.
Everything is subject to change. You can monitor reactions to different aspects of your sales pipeline and make sure that you change those that cause deals to be lost while keeping the most effective tactics. These changes would ensure that your sales pipeline is a ‘well-oiled machine’, something that would effectively lead to profitable change, regarding of sales.
Focus on profitable leads
If you look at the entirety of your sales process, you would most likely notice that it takes the same amount of time to complete or close each deal. Since this is the case, you must make sure that you focus your efforts on the highest valued and most prospective leads and giving less preference to deals that have a reduced chance of completion.
It is important to organise your sales dashboard from the highest to the lowest so it is clear which leads are most profitable to your business. When you view your sales activity for each prospective deal, you can then identify the most engaging ones as well as those on which you need to focus.
Keep your sales cycle short
Many companies make their sales process too long. Most sales reps complain about the length of sales cycles quoting that the length gives room for prospects to change their mind in a bid to look for an alternative process to solve their problems.
So, keeping the sales process short is one of the best ways to remain effective during the sales process. If, at any point, you find clients bailing out, you must review your sales cycle and look for ways to reduce the length of the process.
This does not mean the process should become a bombardment of tasks on both sides – the prospect and the sales agents – but it should be a process during which some unnecessary tasks are changed using the most effective ways to shorten the process.
This could mean different things, such as coming up with new ways to shorten the process with which prospects make decisions on closing deals; you can experiment on new ways to get this done and pick out the most effective sales results.
Create a standard sales process
One of the mistakes we make with regards to sales pipeline management is using different approaches to close sales deals. You might even notice that your sales agents use numerous methods for closing sales based on different prospects.
It is important to remember that most of your ideal target customers have many things in common. These include their reason for buying from you, which you must take advantage of when trying to create a standard pipeline.
Most of the best sales teams make use of standardised sales processes, which allow them to win new deals.
A sales pipeline is the heartbeat of any business and is something that should be taken seriously for the prosperity and growth of any business. This is why it cannot be taken for granted.
With the lack of proper sales pipeline management, you have a chance of losing out on more customers, making your company suffer, eventually. The practices highlighted in this article can help you create a better sales pipeline bringing more sales that will effectively lead to the development of your company.
Take time to consider how you manage your sales pipeline; look at ways that you can make changes for improvement, effectively yielding growth on all sides.