Sales is an integral component of any successful business, which is part of the reason project managers and other leaders of a company need to pay attention to it.
No business can be successful without customers, which is why sales process engineering was born. This is a scientific approach to sales that could help optimize a company’s ability to sell a product or service.
What is the Sales Pipeline?
Sales pipeline engineering or sales funnel engineering is one of many functions initiated when sales process engineering is enacted. The sales pipeline is a way to visualize the entire process. It goes beyond feeding leads into a funnel, and it requires the marketing and project managers to work together towards one common goal.
Think of the sales pipeline as a storyboard that visualizes the sales process. Each pipeline has its own personality based on each company and what they want to accomplish. This is the reason no two pipelines are going to be exactly alike though they will have the same DNA.
All pipelines have the following structure:
- Lead Generation
It is here where the business can jot down everything the company has done to find prospects and potential customers who may be willing to purchase the service or product provided by the said company. Any steps taken usually take into account how savvy potential customers can be and how much research they like to do about a service or product before purchasing.
- Lead Qualification
Once potential customers have decided to give a company a chance, some of them engage with the company about the product or service. This usually prompts a potential customer to send data to the sales team that is supposed to accommodate and clarify questions a customer may have.
- Needs Assessment
Skills the sales department has learned, such as engaging with customers and figuring out how to accommodate needs should be on full display. The customer has provided enough information to properly assess their needs, and now it is the sales person’s job to figure out how to personalize the products or services the company offers.
This is where the salesperson presents the offer. The offer should be made effectively to increase the chances of closing the deal.
- The Close
This may be the most exciting part, but the reality is the steps before the close allowed the close to occur. Still, it is good to layout the entire closing process to see how it works.
The pipeline allows the sales department and project managers to understand the scope of each potential sale for further analysis.
How Can the Pipeline be Used?
Sales process engineering and the pipeline needs to be learned and applied. The following is how it is commonly used:
- Identify potential leads
- Figure out who’s the decision maker
- Look for key influencers
- Be sure to follow-up in a personal way
- Analyze metrics
- Use all information to modify sales approach
How Project Managers Benefit?
If there is one thing PMP training teaches budding project managers, it is that they are responsible for estimating upcoming sales. Their estimations have to be as precise as possible when projecting what could happen at the end of each quarter. This is why sales pipeline management is important to project managers as it allows these managers to foresee potential sales.
Project managers can use this process to refine their forecasting accuracy to make better decisions about the company’s resources and reduce costs that the company absorbs unnecessarily, like labor costs among other things.
One factor that helps project managers make better predictions and better use of resources are customer metrics, which are not always shared with them but kept with the sales department. This is valuable information that can now be shared through the customer relationship management system or CRM.
The sales team also gets to benefit from the sales process visualization, especially after it is optimized because it helps this department see where their team needs a little more training to improve closing stats.
Technology continues to help companies blend more departments together and allows them to share information, such as customer data and the entire sales process. This is all going to help bring forth a new level of productivity, which is not only going to help businesses flourish, but customers will likely see better customer service.
There is no telling what sales process engineering could do for businesses, but this is no doubt an exciting development that could create major steps in the right direction for everything sales related.