Pipeline management is crucial for any sales company. Without a pipeline management software that is cutting edge, and offers necessary features, you will be left with a confusing, chaotic mess of data that won’t be at all useful. It’s also important to use your pipeline management system effectively and appropriately, and ensure that each team member is active in using it. This article explores how to best manage the pipeline in order to increase revenue.
Defining Pipeline Management:
To engage in pipeline management effectively, you have to be selling multi-stage opportunities. Many people will try to include accounts or territories into the pipeline, but for it to be effective, it has to be a collection of opportunities with a concrete beginning and end, and steps along the way. Having this pipeline process embedded in your CRM helps to manage it most effectively. Pipeline management is crucial because it allows organizations to know if they are successful or not. It allows for the organization to see if their strategic decisions are paying off and working or not. It’s also essential to distinguish management from forecasting when understanding pipeline management. With forecasting, you are picking a date with the probability of closing, and perhaps looking at deal sizing. Although a pipeline management software might be used to assist with forecasting, it’s not included in the management of opportunities like pipeline management is.
- Pipeline management at its most basic definition is the activity of building a healthy pipeline and winning more of the deals that are in it. It doesn’t include forecasting.
Sales managers tend to think only about the numbers and statistics. They don’t focus on what is happening with each opportunity. They don’t look at the people they are positioned with, the relationship strength, the customer’s goals or buying process, what is in it for the customer, or competitive positioning. This means that sales managers are missing out on coaching opportunities and producing poor results.
- Stop keeping score and focusing only on the numbers. Look more in-depth at the status of the opportunities and how to move them forward.
- Don’t confuse pipeline management with forecasting.
- Understand that it is a coaching tool, and use it as such.
- Don’t subscribe to the idea that a bigger pipeline is a better pipeline. Smaller pipelines can be more productive because you’re not encouraging salespeople to pile in junk deals that won’t ever amount to revenue, allowing them to focus on selling to leads that are more qualified.
- Avoid focusing only on late-stage opportunities.
Outside salespeople need to continue to fill the funnel and add new opportunities and augment inbound leads and referrals. A lot of sales teams, however, struggle with this task. Many salespeople are not efficient with their prospecting, and there is a general resistance to managing their own pipelines or even using the pipeline management software in the first place.
- Encourage pipeline management throughout the organization. Create the expectation that pipeline software is a requirement. This expectation starts with proactive coaching from the sales managers.
- Approach potential buyers early, and provide information on solving the buyer’s problems. Utilize email initially, but then have the important conversations on the phone. Reach out on how they can benefit from working with you and your organization.
- Meet regularly to discuss the pipeline. Put time into improving and managing the pipeline, and use regular coaching if needed to improve management and pipeline software usage.
Best Practises for Pipeline Management:
- It’s very easy for pipeline managers to overcomplicate what they are trying to measure. This is one thing that drives a low adoption of pipeline management software. Keep pipeline management simple and to the point.
- Create holistic skill development. Sales managers need to help their salespeople execute well across all stages of the process, and create targeted training for each step for each individual.
- Have account plans that show your position within the organization, what the opportunities are, the strategies you’re going to employ, the key players to help move the opportunity forward, and the resources needed to be successful.
- Train the team on how to prospect, including things like writing emails, asking questions, and motivating potential clients to act.
Information for this article was sourced from this webinar, hosted by John Golden, featuring the expert opinions of Jason Jordan, Judy Frank, and Bruce Wedderburn.