Top Pipeline Management Tips
A sales pipeline is the core of every business. Marketing and sales reps struggle each day to manage a healthy pipeline. Managing a healthy pipeline is extremely important because it’s a great and authentic way to generate business revenue.
If we talk about the capabilities of a sales team, the one thing that makes them extraordinary is how they manage their sales pipeline. Not every sales rep is capable of doing that because there is no single formula to do that. So how can sales reps manage their pipeline like a pro?
Managing your pipeline means watching the entire process closely; from making sales to following up. It doesn’t just mean to collect opportunities but to understand all the trends and patterns in a sales process.
Thus, if you really want to boost your conversions, you need to manage your sales pipeline effectively. Mastering your sales pipeline can pinpoint bottlenecks in your sales funnel, unlock many new opportunities, and boost your conversion rate.
A viable tool, which has become a game-changing asset in managing the sales pipeline, is CRM software. The CRM system allows the sales team and reps to dig the centralized customer data and nurture more leads. Furthermore, the advanced tool also provides accurate sales forecasting and seamless integration with other software. Companies that focus on managing their sales pipeline are earning 28% more revenue. Companies that focus on managing their sales pipeline are earning 28% more revenue.
What is a Sales Pipeline?
A sales pipeline is the visual snapshot of your sales process. It is the visual representation of the flow, volume of the sales, and revenue earned in a given time period. Moreover, it also outlines the bottlenecks in the whole sales process and steps that the sales teams need to take to move a prospect down the sales funnel.
To get a better understanding, if your sales pipeline is worth $20,0000 in contract value, your conversion rate is 10%, you can expect to get $20,000 worth of new business. This where companies need sales pipeline analysis. A sales pipeline will help you figure out how you can bring improvement in your sales cycles to close more deals.
The Core Functions of a Sales Pipeline are to provide:
- The sales potential of one seller and the entire team for a given time period.
- Insights into the different stages of an organizations’ sales process.
- The volume of close deals/opportunities and aggregated monetary values.
- All the actions that need to be performed to engage the potential leads.
- Actions that need to be taken to manage the sales cycle more efficiently.
For B2B Sales and Marketing Teams, having a healthy pipeline provides:
- Improves sales pipeline
- Analyze sales strategies and forecast the results
- Allocate and manage resources more efficiently
- Review analytics and progress
- Research target audience and how close are you to your targets
- Improve customer loyalty
- Provide KPI for sales success
When sales reps can analyze the progress of each step and where they need to put more focus, the ROI improves. A well-managed sales process helps sales teams to create authentic forecast reports and evaluate the performance of the sales cycle more efficiently. Companies can look at the metrics to gauge how much they are performing as compared to past metrics. By displaying the sales process visually with measurable actions, sales reps can track all the metrics at a glance to move each opportunity through the pipeline, so potential clients don’t get shuffled.
Stages of Sales Pipeline
Though different teams follow different steps to manage their sales pipeline, however, all of the steps are structured around the following steps:
This is the early stage when sales reps focus only on prospecting and lead generation. Building strong relationships and bringing qualified leads is the top priority of the sales reps as they look forward to creating new business opportunities.
Once sales reps have successfully engaged their potential prospects, the next step is discovery. It’s all about convincing the prospects of what you can do for them to benefit their businesses or what you have to offer them.
Crafting a Strategy
At this stage, a sales pipeline strategy is crafted to implement the sales process and then evaluate the outcomes.
This is the stage when sales reps have finally made a commitment and are ready to make a sale. All the things and last-minute changes are discussed here, leading towards successful sales.
Deals (won or lost)
At this stage, sales reps have either got a customer or lost it. Not every lead turns into a customer, unfortunately, but that’s how things work. If you lose a customer, don’t worry, the new ones will enter into the cycle. That’s what we call sales pipeline management.
How to Manage Your Sales Pipeline
To better manage your sales pipeline, here are 10 steps to help you do exactly that.
- Target the Right People
If you want to increase the velocity of your sales pipelines, the best way is to concentrate on targeting the right leads. A fact: always focus on quality rather than quantity. Find the right companies, or people using the marketing automation tools and make a list of the decision-makers that you really need to target.
Gather important data of your leads using the best marketing automation tools and identify the right customers for you. Determine where the right leads are coming from, keep an eye on your competitors, and see what type of companies they are targeting, and then map out your sales strategy accordingly.
- Align your Sales Strategy With the Buyer’s Journey
If you are into sales, you need to understand the fact that you can’t see things from the company’s lenses. Be customer-centric, focus on what they demand, and keep your customers in the limelight. If you focus more on what your customers need, what their pain points are, you’ll be able to fulfill your customers’ needs in a more efficient way.
- Collect in-Depth Details About Your Leads
It becomes very easy to move a lead through different stages of sales pipelines to the final sales funnel when you have gathered important data about what they need. You can use the best marketing automation tools to gather in-depth details about your leads. Contact information alone won’t do much so you need to build strong relationships with your customers to understand their business goals. Once you have understood your business goals, it would become easier for you to turn your leads into customers.
Use the latest marketing automation tools to strike up conversations and once you have engaged them successfully, ask the questions to diagnose their needs. Try to get all the crucial details and find out what type of solution they are looking for in their business model.
- Monitor and Review Your Sale Pipeline Metrics
Inbound marketing and sales depend on data availability. Collecting data means to interpret, organize, and use it in a way that sales teams can use it to their advantage. Moreover, sales pipeline KPIs will also help you to prioritize your important deals. It is important to review and monitor metrics so you can better evaluate opportunities that arise with time. This will help you to establish lead scoring criteria and recognize hot leads by comparing them to past customer’s behaviors.
- Manage Your Time
Being a sales rep, you’d definitely have so much on your plate which makes it difficult to focus on your sales process. Administrative tasks and reports consume a lot of time. However, if you want to manage your time more efficiently, you must use a marketing automation tool that would automate all your time-consuming tasks and you’d be able to focus more on your core sales activities.
Advanced marketing automation can automate your workflows saving you a lot of time. It can provide a dashboard where you can get all the statistics and metrics at a single point. When you can check all the metrics at one glance, you’d stay on the right track.
- Don’t Let Your Dead Prospects Just Sit-in
Monitor your sales pipelines regularly to check if any leads have dried up, have been stuck there for a long time, or leads that aren’t showing any interest for a while. Letting such leads in your sales pipelines do harm than any good.
So, keep checking your pipelines periodically to sift through and weed out those leads that have become dead. Just send them one last follow-up message or email and if they still don’t show any interest, remove them, and focus on your hot leads.
If you think the lead can prove to be beneficial for you in the future, put them ‘on-pause,’ with a message they can contact you any time they want. This is a great way to ensure that all the leads in your pipelines are working fine and you are not wasting your precious time on cold leads.
- Focus on Each Lead
Don’t underestimate any opportunity in your sales pipeline. Make sure you reply to each prospect and answer their queries on time. You can use the latest marketing automation tools or any other lead management software to track the movement of each lead.
- Prioritize Your Important Leads
There is nothing wrong with spending more time on qualified leads.
Keep your sales pipeline organized and focused on potential leads that can convert quickly. No doubt, you should nurture each lead, however, you should know who deserves more time than others. Managing your time and giving more attention to the leads that are of high value means healthy sales pipelines filled with potential leads.
Sift through your leads and organize them from high to low value for your business. Then give time to every lead accordingly.
- Make Sure Your Sales Cycle Isn’t Too Long
Keeping a long sales cycle means giving your prospects more time to search for your competitors. They might change your mind and drop out of your sales pipeline. Review your sales process once again and if you find out that long sales cycles have been the hindrance for maintaining your sales pipelines, then you really need to cut down the unnecessary things. The best way you can shorten your sales pipelines is by automation tools. They will not only reduce your burden but cultivate relationships, bringing your qualified leads.
Ensure a short sales cycle to make more impactful and valuable sales that can accelerate your business growth.
- Keep Your Pipeline Super Clean
Sales reps are inherently optimistic. They often don’t let go of even the dead and cold leads and think they would turn into customers someday. Sure, being optimistic is a good thing but you need to know when to cut something down to save your time and efforts. Being a sales rep, you should have the idea that not all the leads are going to convert into sales.
Stay organized and create categories of hot, mild, and cold leads. Weed out low-quality leads and focus only on the best leads. However, don’t just cut down every other lead blindly. You should be able to figure out which leads could actually benefit you in the future.
Go in and flush your sales pipeline every week to create space for new highly qualified leads.
- Use CRMs & Automate as Many Activities as Possible
A sales pipeline is everything you need to turn your leads into customers. No matter how big your marketing or sales team is, managing all the leads and interactions over the months or years is a hectic and time-consuming process. Moreover, there are chances that data entered manually have human-errors that can cost you sometimes.
Fortunately, automation technology is developing fast and various marketing automation tools have emerged overtime to keep up with the velocity and volume of data of your leads. A useful marketing automation tool will up your game in no time by maintaining your connections, rhymes, follow-ups, lead nurturing, engagements, and much more.
You can manage your sales pipeline much more efficiently with CRM Software, so make sure you consider it as well.
- Use the Right Management Solutions for Better Outcomes
Want to know the secret sauce of managing your sales pipelines like a pro? Select the best management software to visualize your sales process, get better insights, and drive more leads into your sales cycle. However, you need to choose a marketing automation tool that can provide
Make Sure Your Whole Team Is on the Same Page
When you develop a standard sales environment for your team, it becomes easier for them and they work more efficiently. Streamlining your sales process is the best way to move your leads down the sales funnel quickly. When your whole team is on the same page, and their work routines align with the sales process, the sales cycle will speed up quickly. However, if team members have their own routines and they don’t follow the sales plan properly, chances are that their business will doom soon.
- Execute Pipeline Review Meetings
A great way to execute pipeline velocity is by keeping the deals moving and focus on increasing the number of qualified opportunities. As a sales rep, you should know that to increase your win rate, you need to concentrate on a number of interrelated factors that can be otherwise difficult to improve and synchronize.
Moreover, sales reps must take out some time for one-on-one meetings to evaluate each step and to make sure that everything is working perfectly. Marketing automation tools can track each step and create reports of all the activities. Dig deeper into the reports, see what’s working, what needs to be changed, and what the areas of improvement are.
Get and give feedback earlier to shorten your sales cycle. Evaluate the whole process regularly to identify risk on time and address them as soon as possible.
- Collaborate Sales & Marketing Teams
Leads often fall into the marketing department. Due to the lack of collaboration between sales and marketing teams, the sales team often lacks knowledge about the leads and this often leads to slow and awful progress. For a healthy sales pipeline, both marketing and sales teams should have enough knowledge about their leads such as:
- What are their interests?
- What metrics and filters should be implemented to get more leads?
- What info-marketing team should provide while handing over the leads to the sales department?
When the sales rep has all the necessary details about the leads, they can spend more time on potential leads rather than shuffling their targets.
The marketing and sales team can also use the marketing automation tools which would share important leads data with everyone in the team. The more they have knowledge about their leads, the more will be the win rate too in less time.
A healthy sales pipeline is like the blood of a business. Thus, creating and maintaining a healthy sales pipeline is crucial if you really want to make more sales and boost your ROI.
If you underestimate the fact that how important sales pipeline management is, you could lose many customers and your business will suffer. Examine your sales pipeline regularly, understand how things are working, what you can do to streamline your sales pipeline. Pay attention to leads that are more likely to convert into customers. Focus on the sales pipeline management tactics mentioned to maximize your conversion rate.
Get ready to generate automated leads and convert those leads into prospective sales with the best free and open source CRM tools such as HubSpot CRM, EspoCRM, Bitrix24, SuiteCRM, etc. The category also includes CRM software with premium features such as Salesforce CRM, Zoho CRM, Funnel CRM, and more. You can also go through the CRM Software buyer’s guide to get a comprehensive overview of the product.