Progressive pipeline management—otherwise known as opportunity management—is completely dependent on the information available to sales reps. It often happens that such data is somewhat sketchy and incomplete, which of course paints an unclear picture of the risk involved in a sale. The poorer the information, the more the activity of the sales force resembles haphazard guesswork. When thousands or millions of dollars are invested in a major marketing campaign or sales strategies, haphazard is the last thing company executives need or want.
Quantity of Information
The more information a company can gather about an opportunity, the more on top of that opportunity a company’s sales force is going to be. At the least they should know all about the target industry; the issues normally encountered, how they are addressed and how your company’s product or service solves them.
But today’s forward-thinking sellers gather much more information than just about the general industry. Effective pipeline management requires that they learn as much as possible about the specific prospect company itself, its role in the industry, its competition and any problems particular to that company. When possible, data is also gathered about particular decision makers so that salespeople can speak to them with some confidence.
Information should include what kind of influence your competitors might have on your target prospect. It would be good to be able to predict how and when your competition would challenge your attempt at winning the prospect as a customer; you would be in a stronger position were you to have countermeasures already in place for such attempts.
Quality of Information
But even a plethora of information will be of little use in pipeline management if its quality is suspect. For example a sales rep might call on the prospect company and find out that all the data that rep has about that company is a year out of date; at best that leaves the salesperson with egg on their face and at worst with a lost opportunity.
Hence the information gathered should be as timely and accurate as possible. Ideally such information would be entered in your company’s CRM solution as it is gathered so that it is clearly tagged with the date and is easily retrievable when needed.
It is also true that all information in effective pipeline management is not equal; there are some facts that are more important than others. Data should be labeled or ordered in such a way that the most pertinent information can be viewable or retrievable first.
CRM Solution any Progressive Pipeline Management
Of course the only way that you’re going to be able to properly accumulate and utilize information for sale pipeline management is with a leading-edge CRM solution. As already mentioned such information should be entered as it is gathered; this should be done into each step of the pipeline to which it applies.
It is only with such a solution that the sales force can fully utilize the data. Since it is also accessible through the cloud, a salesperson can even look into CRM right before an on-site visit to make sure he or she is totally current. Pertinent data can be entered right at the conclusion of the visit even before the sales rep leaves the prospect’s building.
The real key to effective pipeline management is information: its quantity, quality—and most importantly its accessibility and utilization.
What kind of CRM solution allows for ideal information usage? This one.