Companies that use effective pipeline management grow 15% faster than those with ineffective pipeline management. But what exactly is a sales pipeline? A sales pipeline essentially involves the individual stages within the sales process from qualifying a prospect into a lead to converting the lead into a sales opportunity, until the final closing stage. More often than not, these stages include: prospecting, first contact, lead qualification, meeting, proposal, close, and customer acquisition.
But do you really need sales pipeline management? The short answer is: yes!
Sales pipeline management is needed in order to track how each step in the sales process is functioning. It’s also important to know how many leads are being acquired as well as forecasting the closing probability per stage.
Here are a few tips on how to effectively implement a sales pipeline management strategy to help your business to grow and increase your ROI!
Apply Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
This is important if you want to improve your buyer-seller relationships with the ultimate goal of increasing sales. It’s also important when it comes to customer retention and finding the best quality leads. Check out my other blog-post on how CRM can help your business on a much broader scale. Having a CRM system is greatly beneficial when it comes to sales pipeline management. Make sure sales reps are putting quality data into their CRM so that you can receive better data from the pipeline.
It’s important to see how quickly prospects are converting and how quickly they are moving through the pipeline. You should also make sure the deals that you make are moving from stage to stage fast enough. Otherwise you’ll find yourself not being able to complete the sales process because you have too many opportunities and not enough follow-up meetings, etc.
Make sure you arrange these meetings well in advance and as soon as possible in order to give you the best chance at reaching the end of the pipeline to closing. In fact, you should arrange the follow-up meeting during the first meeting to move the pipeline along as quickly as possible. It’ll also help you to identify who the best quality leads are!
Don’t treat every customer the same
Although all of your customers have you and your business in common, they aren’t all going to interact with you and your product or service in the same way. Some will make more purchases than others and some will purchase more frequently than others. Some will read your online content religiously, and some will only read when they spot something that interests them.
The bottom line is that they won’t all have the same expectations of you and your product or service. You need to target your prospects based on their interests and what matters to them individually from a customer standpoint. Otherwise, your sales pipeline won’t work as efficiently and you’re more likely to have fewer prospects reaching the end of the pipeline!
Identifying the closing probability for each step in the sales pipeline is important, but how do you do it? Let’s say you need one prospect qualification. How many prospects do you have to call in order for one prospect to qualify? Let’s say it takes ten first contacts before one of them qualifies as a prospect. That means 10% of your first contacts move on to the next stage in the pipeline. These predictions are important in order to manage every stage in the sales process effectively. Basically, you need to make sure you are conducting accurate forecasting for the most efficient pipeline management!
Schedule frequent meetings with reps
Everyone knows that meetings are important, and the same goes for sales pipeline management. Regular meetings with each rep to discuss their funnels is a must. According to HubSpot and the Sales Management Association, companies that spend at least three hours a month in meetings with each of their reps have an 11% revenue advantage over companies that don’t. Communication is very important when it comes to sales pipeline management if you want to make sure you and your reps aren’t being left in the dark!
Keep your team informed
It’s important that all reps and teams are informed of the information gathered from analyzing your sales pipeline. It’s also a good idea to train your sales managers in pipeline management. Companies that do this have a 9% higher revenue than companies that don’t, so it’s a great way to help increase your ROI. Conducting pipeline reviews is also helpful at the beginning and the middle of the pipeline because sales teams and sales managers can assess the quality of opportunities and can have a better understanding of the entire pipeline.
Don’t have excessively long sales cycles
Make sure you don’t have too many stages within your sales process as this will result in a very time consuming sales pipeline. Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to pipeline management. In fact, smaller pipelines can actually be much more efficient and more productive because it requires less time for a prospect to reach the end of the pipeline.
Don’t forget to adapt the size of the pipeline to suit the individual sales person so that they will be easier to manage. You should also focus on making smaller improvements throughout the pipeline by reviewing each stage of the funnel. That way, you can focus on better quality opportunities at each stage of the pipeline which will ultimately be more beneficial to the overall functioning of the sales pipeline!
Sales pipeline management is very important, particularly for B2B and B2C digital selling and social selling. It’s important to remember to keep tabs on your pipeline and focus on small improvements at each stage of the funnel for the best quality leads and opportunities for the most efficient pipeline. Coming up with an effective strategy for sales pipeline management can be difficult, but hopefully these tips will help you to implement one for your own sales teams!