What is pipeline management?
A sales pipeline is a visual representation of where your prospects are in the sales process. Sales pipelines offer a wealth of insight into how many deals your sales reps are likely to close in a specific timeframe and how close everyone in the team is to achieving their quotas. It you a good understanding of how well your sales process is working, and what sales activities are having the biggest impact.
Your sales pipeline provides a clear snapshot of your future sales sources. By understanding where your leads are coming from and where they are in the funnel, you can better manage your sales activities to generate more revenue.
Essential sales pipeline management tips
Now that we’re up to speed with the fundamentals of sales pipelines, let’s look at our essential revenue-boosting tips.
Focus on the most valuable leads
To optimise your sales pipeline, you should focus on high-quality leads only.
Taking a data-driven approach to your sales pipeline, you can trim the fat, investing your time in prospects that are likely to convert and offer the most value to your business.
Working with the right metrics, you can score and qualify your leads intelligently, prioritising your prospects for maximum efficiency. If you have identified your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), you can rate your leads against that ICP. Demographic and behavioural information will help you decide which leads should be prioritised.
Drop your dead leads
Expanding on our last point, knowing when to drop your dead leads will streamline your sales pipeline further, making sure your reps don’t waste time on leads who aren’t interested in what you have to offer.
Leveraging your sales data and metrics, you can quickly identify the unresponsive leads and remove them from your pipeline completely—jumping on better sales opportunities instead.
If you identify leads that haven’t responded to a number of communications, for instance, you can mark them ‘dead’, omit them from the pipeline, and move on – handing them back to marketing for further nurturing.
Review & evolve your pipeline management processes
Every business’ sales pipeline will look slightly different—and to ensure yours works efficiently, you should regularly review your processes.
In the digital age especially, evolution is key: What works well today might not hit the mark tomorrow, so adapting to change will ensure you keep your finger well and truly on the pulse.
To ensure your sales pipeline is highly-tuned and optimised to engage your leads from first contact to post-purchase, you should:
- Assign specific roles to your sales reps (prospecting, nurturing, negotiation, post-purchase care, etc.), empowering your team to play to their strengths while working together cohesively from start to finish.
- Define your key stages by analysing your buyer’s journey using marketing automation and web analytics tools, then map our a clear process that accomodates the buyer’s journey
- Reviewing and improving your sales pipeline consistently is vital, so you must drill down into each stage of the journey to ensure everything flows with maximum efficiency. Consult your sales as well as customer data to identify potential inefficiencies or bottlenecks that are causing your reps to miss opportunities. For instance, you might discover that your qualified leads are dropping off at the nurturing stage of the pipeline. To tackle the issue, you can drill down into your communication touchpoints to see which is lacking engagement the most, and review your content or messaging for improved results.
- Be persistent and follow-up with high-quality leads consistently. With more choice and touchpoints to explore than ever before, today’s consumers expect choices. Following up on your communications with a multi-channel approach will increase your chances of landing a conversion and driving a successful cycle.
- Consistent Win and Loss analysis will provide insights into the reasons why opportunities are closing, why they are dropping off pipeline and when – providing useful learning and driving greater success in the future.
- The most important thing to remember here is that reviewing your pipeline is not an occasional activity — for sustainable success, you need to enhance your processes regularly.
Condense your sales cycle
75% of B2B sales take at least four months to close, with 18% taking longer than 12 months. Some B2C businesses are also prone to extended sales timelines.
For effective sales pipeline management, condensing your sales pipeline is a valuable move. Essentially, the longer your sales cycle takes, the more opportunity your prospects will have to change their mind or get lured away by a competitor.
Condensing your sales process length doesn’t mean you have to bombard your leads with ten follow-ups a day, but you should focus on ways of making each phase of the pipeline swifter.
To condense your sales cycle for better results, you could, at each stage, review and test core activities and their effectiveness, enhance your marketing content in line with your prospects expectation, or you may decide to give them more information straight off the bat to progress them through the funnel faster. Strong collaboration between sales and marketing can really have an impact here, each team bringing valuable input and tactics to the process. Brainstorm ideas, experiment with strategies, benchmark your performance, and you will be able to streamline your sales cycle for optimum success.
Work with a CRM
Using pipeline management tools is key to keep track of leads and prioritise follow-up. Using a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, you can see where each opportunity sits in the sales pipeline but more importantly how that opportunity has risen and how it is evolving, from leads to opportunity, to close won and post sales. CRM can give you a truly 360 view of your customer from first engagement and all the way through the customer life cycle.
Be that your own pipeline or your team’s — depending on if you are a team member or sales leader — a CRM will empower you to bring the above tactics together while making data-driven decisions that will ultimately improve customer loyalty, increase sales, and boost your bottom line.
“What differentiates sellers today is their ability to bring fresh ideas.”—Jill Konrath
Exceptional sales pipeline management boils down to efficiency, innovation, and a commitment to adapt with the landscape around you. A CRM will give you the transparency and insight to source the best leads for your business and convert them into sales consistently.
To find out more about our sales solutions, read about our CRM platform or contact us.