Managing Your Sales Pipeline

A sales pipeline is a way to manage the sales process we’ve described in Sales Teams That Produce Revenue.  Think about it. Your prospects make certain decisions that move them through the sales funnel, or sales pipeline. From the time your prospects initially reach out to your company, until the time they become customers, they should encounter different people and different content. So how do you manage that pipeline? This article goes through the various steps needed to manage a sales pipeline.

Why do I care about sales pipelines?

By effectively managing a sales pipeline, organizations and sales representatives are more likely to KNOW, and MEET, their goals. Knowing where your prospect falls within the pipeline, can help identify the next step you should take to close the sale. While most executives believe that their organizations are ineffective at managing their sales pipeline, taking care to go through all of the steps not only makes sales production more effective, but organizes the entire process. The truth is that managing your sales pipelines can dramatically improve closing rates and improve customer relationships. You set your team up for success.

How do you effectively manage your sales pipeline? Follow the steps below.

  • Find qualified prospects. Finding leads that are ready, willing, and able buyers is one of the core principles to ensuring that your sales process begins properly. Ask yourself whether the prospect can afford the product or service. Does the prospect really need the product? Will the prospect’s problem or pain points be resolved if the prospect purchases your product or service? The difference is a database of people who may know you but are really not prospects, or a database of true prospects who want to hear what you have to say.
  • Use a CRM system. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management system. Common systems included SalesForce.com, Zendesk Sell, Hubspot, Freshsales, and others. There are numerous CRM systems on the market today – from simple to more complex, based on your needs and budget. CRM systems track, log and manage your sales lead. The more complex the sales process, the more crucial your CRM system is to your success. Using a CRM system can help in maintaining and managing your prospects and customers. This same system can be an effective tool in managing your time.
  • Identify decision makers. These are the people who will make the decision to buy, or not to buy. Spinning your wheels with non-decision makers will not allow you to close the deal. It’s important to identify the right people who will help you close the deal. In most cases, it’s best to start with the top decision maker (e.g. speak with the CEO, CFO or COO) in the organization and work your way down through the ranks until you find the person who can make the buying decision.
  • Follow up. As mentioned in our article, Sales Teams That Produce Revenue, getting the first meeting or first call to the prospect is important to the goal of closing the sale. But unless there is a timely follow-up, that first meeting may be a waste of time. Use your CRM system to organize regular calls, emails and meetings with the prospect, if necessary.
  • Measure and analyze results. It may seem a tedious task, but by tracking your results, you can begin to see trends. And a CRM system makes it easy to analyze results. You can identify areas where more emphasis is needed. You may be able to see a pattern in how you close sales. What actions seem to produce the best results? Identify successful patterns, as well as those areas where you seem to lose the sale. By tracking your results, you may also be able to identify the types of organizations, people and/or industries with whom you are having success.

Managing your sales pipeline is not only possible, but necessary. It puts a more systematic approach to the entire sales process. Your sales team will be more successful and will enjoy more respect throughout the organization. For help in creating or managing your sales pipeline, please contact Bahar Consulting at 240-242-3349.

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