Pipeline management can mean different things to different people. Traditionally it has meant utilizing various measurements and analytics to measure sales rep quota achievement as well as the requirement of reports (usually through the CRM application) from salespeople on their progress.
Today forward-thinking companies are viewing pipeline management quite differently. They see the pipeline as a sales process that will be a path of best practices for salespeople to follow. A leading-edge CRM solution is easily adaptable to a company’s sales process so that the sales force can actually utilize it in managing opportunities.
Opportunity Evaluation: Know Going In
In the past lead and opportunity evaluation has been at best a sketchy practice. Some have even stated the single qualifier for an opportunity as, “Do they have the money?” Moving forward sales reps then wonder what went wrong. It was only after the fact that such factors as the salesperson’s product or service being a wrong fit for the prospect company would come to light, for example. Or a salesperson established a great working relationship at the prospect company—with totally the wrong person to make the sale happen. Or the target company, while maintaining an appearance of affluence, was only a short step away from filing bankruptcy.
Companies lately are becoming much savvier about evaluating opportunities. Utilizing tools such as our free opportunity evaluation toolkit, they are fully qualifying an opportunity right up front. While this takes a bit of extra time, that time is better spent now than later when, after much toil and time, the salesperson (and sales management, and the company) thinks they’ve got a real deal on the line that then falls through.
Incorporating Progressive Pipeline Management Into Sales Process and CRM
Making use of things like our free toolkit, a sales force will establish opportunity evaluation processes that work best for them. But after much time has passed, simply having such processes in and of itself will not be enough—especially with a lot of business happening and a fair quantity of sales cycles in the pipeline.
As they are discovered and proven, best practices should be incorporated into the sales process and from there into the CRM system. Not only will that mean such practices are there for everyone to take advantage of and utilize, but each and every sales cycle will follow along the same successful path.
Allowing for Change
As such processes are implemented it could also be found that some of the actions thought valuable to take when they were first being put into use are now found to be incorrect or even unnecessary. If you have put into place a sales process and CRM solution that is difficult to change, you’re then stuck with practices that are either impractical or that in fact nobody is actually using.
From the beginning it is best to establish a flexible sales process, one that can be updated with new successful sales methods as they are found, and can have deleted from it processes found to be unworkable. Equally as important is having a CRM solution that can be modified to fit your flexible sales process as it changes.
Within progressive pipeline management, opportunity management should be detailed and provide the sales force with plentiful information to move confidently forward into sales. Make sure it’s also sufficiently flexible so it can be altered on the fly when needed—and it will then always be “state of the art.”
Click here to download your free opportunity evaluation tool.