Your sales pipeline captures the journey sales reps carry out, from their first point of contact with a prospect, through to a close. Following a solid sales process is at the heart of sales efficiency. Typically, your sales pipeline has five stages. These are:
- Prospecting: This involves the use of outbound techniques such as cold calling and inbound tactics (including content marketing), to identify possible prospects who resemble your buyer persona.
- Qualification: This is where prospects are assessed against certain criteria to identify if they are worth following up. For example, do they have the budget to spend and are they looking to buy?
- Proposal: Once a prospect has been qualified, sales reps need to present a proposal to demonstrate how their product/service can solve the prospect’s issue.
- Decision: Based on what the sales rep presents, the prospect will decide whether or not to buy.
- Repeat business: Once a purchase has been made, sales reps use proven tactics to stay in touch, nurture the relationship and encourage further sales or referrals.
Sales Pipeline Management is the Key Way to Increase Sales
Once you’ve built and understood your sales pipeline, you’ll be in a stronger position to tweak sections to help you drive sales.
Here are five,ways to increase sales — quick wins that could make a sizable difference to your success in the New Year.
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#1: Increase Your Stage Velocity
If you want to generate lots of sales, you need to maintain momentum and flow within your sales pipeline. So keep track of stagnation and calculate how long you expect prospects, on average, to spend within your sales funnel.
It’s also worth understanding stage velocity – i.e. the average amount of time it takes prospects to move from one stage to the next:
- Identify any areas of your sales process where people seem to get stuck
- Perhaps your proposal process is inefficient, leaves too many questions unanswered and doesn’t give prospects the confidence or information to make a decision
- Or maybe your qualification process is ineffective, leading to poor quality leads clogging up the top end of your sales funnel and sapping your team’s time and focus
Once you identify blockages, tweak sales tactics to ensure prospects are being nudged through at the right pace. Because if they’re not, you risk losing a sale, or harming profits by spending too long nurturing a prospect.
#2: Identify Where Your Funnel is Leaking
Not all prospects that enter your sales pipeline are going to convert into customers.
Every business gets leads; some are from people who aren’t decision makers, who don’t have the budget, or are not ready to buy now. As a result, your sales pipeline or funnel is “leaky” and sales efficiency suffers as a result.
But beyond this inevitable fallout, there will be some loss that will be preventable. And if you want to drive more sales, you need to figure out what’s causing people to look elsewhere. Can you identify specific stages that are problematic? If so, fix them…
- Revisit your sales playbook and develop different tactics and new sales strategies — ways to increase sales.
- Invest in additional sales resources so you can act quicker
- Identify opportunities to “recycle” prospects who have leaked out
Whatever you do, if you’re able to plug preventable leaks, you will increase your conversion rate and sales will grow.
#3: Increase Your Average Conversion Rate
What would be the impact on your business of a 1% increase in your conversion rate?
It’s not easy attracting and generating leads; so once you’ve qualified a prospect as fitting your buyer persona, it makes sense to do what you can to convert them. The key is to figure out what work needs to be done. For example, you could:
- Increase the quality of the leads entering the top of your sales funnel by offering more targeted, niche lead bait
- Experiment with different tactics during the proposal stage to make it easier for the prospect to decide
- Introduce tactics that move prospects into the proposal phase more quickly
#4: Increase the Number of Prospects Entering Your Sales Pipeline
If you change nothing else, if more prospects enter your funnel, you have an immediate opportunity to grow sales. For sure, you’ll need to be aware of the impact further down the sales pipeline, but increasing the raw number of leads may be the right solution for some businesses.
You could do this by:
- Employing additional sales staff
- Creating a new lead magnet
- Increasing your profile within your niche
#5: Get Closer to Your Numbers
Having a deep understanding of your numbers will ensure you have the sales intelligence needed to promote and plan for growth.
And that’s where a pipeline management tool can help. If you can quickly and easily access the data you need to track your performance, set accurate forecasts, and track your conversion rate, you will be in a stronger position to know where to focus your efforts. In addition, if you have real time data and the ability to see your pipeline end to end, you can react quicker and ensure you’re doing everything possible to close those deals.
What Are You Planning for 2014?
The indicators are that 2014 could be a year for growth. So why not focus on your sales pipeline — Get your free trial of Pipeliner CRM now. Use it as a key tool to help you work smarter, increase sales efficiency, and close more deals?
What do you think?