Sales pipelines are a great tool to gain quick insights into where each of your deals is within your sales process. Your sales reps can use this insight to navigate how they engage with prospects to increase deal closure rates.
Sales pipelines can also help to keep track of sales conversion rates, monitor the performance of individual sales reps, and inform you of whether or not you will meet your sales target for the week/month/year.
How to manage your sales pipeline:
Managing your sales pipeline is done by proactively updating the status of each prospect after every interaction (meeting, phone call or email) within your CRM platform. By doing this, the sales pipeline in your CRM platform becomes the centralised dashboard that can help you progress deals forwards throughout the sales journey until the deal is either won or lost.
Businesses that primarily use spreadsheets to manage their sales pipeline will struggle to track sales and follow-ups with the same accuracy as a CRM system because a healthy sales pipeline with a large number of potential deals tends to become overwhelming quite quickly.
Nothing quite beats the clean and simple interface of a CRM system to help you stay on top of your sales pipeline management – and modern CRM systems are now fairly affordable at (some are priced as low as $5 a month).
Seven things to remember in order to successfully optimise your sales pipeline:
1. Always follow up. The easiest way to do this is to set a reminder that will notify your sales reps each time they need to follow up with a prospect. You could also try automating this process completely. Use a sales email template to contact a prospect automatically after a certain amount of time has passed. For example, this could be a week after the initial call.
2. Focus on the most promising leads. You’ll find that throughout the sales process, most deals take a similar amount of time to close. To get the most out of your business, it’s more important to concentrate your efforts on high value and sales-ready prospects. This saves time working on leads that will most likely not make it all the way through the pipeline.
3. If a lead is dead, drop it. When you have spent a long time working on building a relationship with a lead, this can be tricky, but if that lead is no longer interested it is a waste of time to continue pursuing it.
You will know a lead is dead if they tell you directly that they are no longer interested. Or if they are simply ignoring your calls and just not willing to move forward despite the best efforts of the sales reps.
4. Monitor your sales pipeline’s key metrics. The sales pipeline is constantly changing and because of this, you need to be monitoring your sales pipeline metrics. These key metrics include:
- Deals within your pipeline
- The average deal size within your sales pipeline.
- How many deals have been won? What is the close ratio?
- How long is the average deal before it is closed?
5. Review your sales pipeline. The most successful sales organisations review their sales technique and the sales pipeline constantly. This is to make sure that everything is as optimised as possible and that their businesses are running at maximum efficiency.
6. Continue to update your pipeline. As your pipeline grows and develops, you will need to be careful that it doesn’t become overwhelmed and disorganised. A sales pipeline in this state will spread your resources too thin and can lead to the loss of sales. To avoid this, update your sales pipeline regularly.
7. Condense your sales cycle. Studies show that 75% of B2B sales can take at least 4 months to close a sales deal, on top of this 18% can take up to 12 months. By doing things like reducing the number of days before you follow up with a prospect, you can shorten the time it takes to close a deal which could lead to more sales opportunities in the long run.
Tools you can use to manage your sales pipeline
Features of Insightly:
- Lead Routing
- Email Management
- Workflow Automation
- Relationship Linking
Features of 3 XANT:
- Team Management
- Sales playbooks
- Smart Email
- CRM Reporting
Features of Pipedrive:
- Mobile App Integration
- Communications Tracking
- Analytics Reports
- Automation Tools
LeadFize is not a pipeline management tool but it can be used to bring new qualified leads into your sales pipeline by collecting your target prospect’s contact information.
Features of LeadFuze:
- List Building that can be Automated
- Programmable AI to find very specific leads
- Ignore Lists
Feature of Freshsales:
- Intelligent Workflows
- Lead and Contact Management
- Email Management
- Sales Sequencing
- Lead Scoring
- Account Management