Sales Pipeline Management - Expert Point of View
Are you struggling with dwindling sales numbers? Hit Your Sales Numbers by Doing This One Thing Better ...
Sales Pipeline Management.
It should be no surprise for you to learn that effectively managing the sales pipeline is crucial to sales success. However, you might be shocked to learn that very few companies are actually good at it.
According to sales expert James Kerry: 63% of sales executives do not pay much attention to sales pipeline management or do it in the wrong fashion. That is why in spite of putting in a hell lot of effort, their isn't any increase in sales performance.
To ensure that your sales does not suffer because of pipeline mismanagement, below given are three tips (suggested by Chuck Schaeffer) on how should organizations manage and optimize the sales pipeline.
Do not worry. These tips are easy to implement and can improve your top line revenues, in a flash.
1. Do not design the sales pipeline as Siloed Storage Container
Most organizations do the mistake of designing their sales pipeline as a storage container with separate compartments for sales and marketing.
- Top of the Funnel (TOFU) managed by marketing
- Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) managed separately by both marketing and sales
- Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) managed by sales.
As you can see, in this type of funnel structure, there is no cooperation between the sales and marketing teams. Once the leads enter the bottom of the sales pipeline, marketing agents have no idea as to what happens to them. The same holds true for the sales agents too. They do not have a clear knowledge about the kind of treatment given to the leads at the top of the funnel.
Combine the three parts of the funnel together. This will give your marketing and sales team a bigger and clearer picture. They can keep a track of the inflow, outflow and movement of leads in the pipeline. They can brainstorm ideas and understand what works and what does not work at different levels of the funnel.
With these insights, sales agents can define an accurate sales process in the CRM, which helps them to steadily push the leads through the sales pipeline and increase the bottom-line revenue.
2. Do not jam the sales pipeline with inactive Leads
Often sales agents find the pipeline clogged because it is filled up with leads that are lying dead or un-stalled in the sales process for long. This make the sales pipeline messy and sales agents are unable to provide attention to the most profitable leads.
Clean the sales pipeline. Review all the leads stored there and remove the ones that have been for longer than twice the average sales cycle. Resend these leads to the marketing agents for further nurturing. Once they become sales-ready, they can be forwarded to the sales team via the CRM software.
Note: Following this practice regularly will remove all the inactive leads from your sales pipeline and ensure that the sales agents do not get a false picture of the estimated revenue generation.
3. Do not push unqualified leads into the sales pipeline
In 6 out of 10 occasions, the leads transferred by the marketing agents into the sales pipeline are not ready to make a purchase. So the result is obvious. No deal conversions.
a. Lead Scoring
Lead scoring empowers marketing agents to rate the leads on two factors:
- Demographics - company size, industry or geography and whether or not it is aligned to the target market or ideal customer profile of the business.
- Behavioral activities - prospect actions such as the kind of response shown in the marketing campaigns, or the types of content consumed.
Based on the given score, marketing agents can understand:
- How much is the lead suitable to the company profile as a customer?
- How much is the lead interested in dealing with the company?
Accordingly, they can only forward the sales-ready leads to the sales force.
b. Service Level Agreements (SLA)
Draw a Sales and Marketing Service Level Agreement (SLA) that mentions pointers like:
- Quality and Quantity of leads to be delivered by marketing to sales
- Follow-up actions and time frames that sales will commit to those leads.
In this way, there is a great level of transparency between the sales and marketing teams.
Tip: To keep the SLA program effective, monitor and resolve SLA disputes. Hold meet-ups to dissipate the issues timely.
c. Lead Recycling
Do not throw the unmaterialized sales opportunities. Instead, use a sales and marketing CRM for lead recycling activities. Collect the leads who got transferred to the sales team too early and got stalled midway in the sales process. Instead of letting them die a slow death, resend them to marketing for more nurturing.
Often we are so focused on the sales numbers as the sole metric that we neglect to put a process for managing a sales pipeline. However, once you start managing the sales pipeline, you will be able to forecast sales with greater accuracy.
But then these are just some of the sales pipeline management tips discussed here. There are many more. So let us know the ones that you follow. What is your step-by-step process to effectively manage your sales pipeline? Share it with us below.
Patricia is a full time CRM consultant at ConvergeHub and part-time blogger. She has earned herself quite a fame as a specialist and market expert in CRM software. In the last five year she has worked with various companies as CRM consultant to help them move their businesses to cloud. Her expertise lies in offering cloud CRM consultation, CRM customization and integration solutions to small enterprises. For last one she is engaged in building ConvergeHub, cloud-based CRM solution for SMBs, as a consultant.Follow her at Twitter: @convergehub