Unless you’re a retailer, or a completely consumer faced business, you already know that a prospect isn’t likely to find your business, approach it and buy your product in one go. Unfortunately it isn’t that easy for most of us. If it was, a lot of our jobs would be a lot easier. This is where your sales pipeline comes in, as well as where you need to effectively manage it.
And that’s where things can get a little bit complicated; how do you properly manage your sales pipeline? Before we can answer that, we need to figure out exactly what a sales pipeline actually is. In short, it’s a snapshot of where in the sales process you are with all of your potential customers. Essentially, it shows:
⋅ How many prospects you have;
⋅ How close you are to closing with them; and
⋅ How close you/your sales team are to quotas.
So, How Do You Manage Your Sales Pipeline?
At the start, setting everything up can seem pretty daunting – there are always going to be the questions of where to start, how to go about it etc.
The best way to go about it, however, it by first defining your sales process on a step-by-step basis.
That way, you can evaluate and optimise each step as you work your way through them – and later on, if needs be. So, how do you effectively manage a sales pipeline?
Firstly, you need an actual pipeline to manage. Start generating your leads and finding the right prospects for you – this can be done simply by researching and talking to people. What you need is the name of the business, the name of the contact in that organisation, how much the deal is worth to your business and your ideal closing date. I say ideal closing date, because sometimes there are unexpected blockages that would have been impossible to see when you started prospecting.
But on the flip-side, there’ll sometimes be companies that are ready to start as soon as possible. In general, however, you need to set a date that will work for your business, and theirs. This is where you’ll also set your stages for the pipeline, like if you need to initiate first contact, the follow up stage, closing stage etc. These stages come into play almost all the time throughout your pipeline.
2.) Know Your Approach
Now you need to know how to approach each particular company. Obviously, you can work from a template, but only to a limited extent. You need to be able to talk to that particular business/contact about how you’ll be valuable to them, and that’s not going to work unless your approach has been tailor mode for them. They need to know how you can help them specifically, not just any business. Show them that you know their business well, and you know exactly how your business can help them, as well as what kind of results you can expect to generate for them.
3.) Follow Up
Sending one email, or making one phone-call won’t make sales. No matter how good the first contact is, they’re not going to sign up there and then. They need to be wined and dined, so to speak. During your first contact, or even your second contact, ask if there’s a particular time/day that you can follow up. This shows that you’re interested in doing business, and gives them time to think over your value proposition. The vast majority of sales go to those who follow up. Make a not of when to follow up, and stick to it.
4.) Measure & Analyse Your Results
Every business needs to know where they’re succeeding, and where they’re failing. How else would you know if, and where, you need to improve? Are people not responding to your first contact? Your follow ups? How are they reacting to your attempt to close? By tracking your key metrics, you’ll know how every part of your sales pipeline is performing, and you’ll know exactly where you need to adapt. The key is to find it as fast as possible, and then act on it.
5.) Use The Right Tools
Having all of the right information, contacts and measurements is the right start, but it’s only just the start. The next step is to use the right CRM tool to keep track of everything. The right kind of sales engagement tool, such as Hubspot for example, can work wonders in tracking your sales and managing your pipeline. They’re also an amazing time-saver, so you can focus more on actually closing the sales instead of trying to keep track of everything.
Having a complete look at your sales pipeline, and knowing exactly where to look, is one of the main keys to keeping your sales coming in. Taking the right steps, and using the right software, well help you keep tabs on how healthy your sales pipeline is, and should help you avoid any potential problems in the future.
How do you manage your sales pipeline? Did we miss any sales management tips? Then let us know.