How to manage your pipeline and boost sales

Sector, product or service aside, to succeed in today’s challenging business environment you need a sustainable flow of sales. And crucial to this is a robust and measurable sales pipeline.

John Cheney, CEO at Workbooks, provides actionable pipeline management tactics to help businesses optimise the lead generation, qualification and nurturing processes, and ultimately increase sales success… 

Managed effectively, sales pipelines can offer a wealth of insight, including a clear snapshot of which sales activities are having the most impact, how many deals sales reps are likely to close in a specific timeframe and how close they are to achieving their quotas. Here’s how you can streamline your operation:

  1. Prioritise the most valuable leads

The main thing is to adopt a data-driven approach to pipeline management. Working with the right metrics to score and qualify leads intelligently will help prioritise prospects more efficiently. Once an Ideal Customer Profile has been created and agreed upon, this can be used to rate leads. Demographic and behavioural information will help teams to prioritise, allowing reps to invest their time in those prospects that are most likely to convert and deliver the most value. 

  1. Stop holding out hope for dead leads

Knowing when to drop dead leads will streamline the sales pipeline further and prevent reps from wasting time on deals that are never going to land. By leveraging sales data and metrics, it is easy to quickly identify unresponsive leads and remove them from the pipeline, handing them back to marketing for further nurturing so that sales reps can focus on the priorities. 

  1. Regularly review processes and evolve

With regular reviewing processes, the sales pipeline can be fine-tuned and optimised to engage leads throughout the cycle. When reviewing pipeline management processes, sales leaders should: 

  • Score and qualify leads so reps can focus on the most valuable prospects, minimising time wasted. 
  • Assign reps specific roles to empower them to play to their strengths and encourage a more cohesive way of working. 
  • Analyse and map out the buyer’s journey to define key stages using marketing automation and web analytic tools. 
  • Once established, drill down into each stage. Consult sales and customer data to identify inefficiencies causing missed opportunities. Then, drill further into communication touchpoints to find where engagement is lacking. 
  • Be persistent and follow up with high-quality leads consistently using a multi-channel approach. 
  • Conduct a win-loss analysis into why some deals are closing and others are not, to gain insights and useful learnings.
  1. Condense the sales cycle

Many sales teams will be familiar with extended sales timelines, with some deals taking months to close. But the longer the sales cycle, the more opportunity for the prospect to be approached by a competitor or change their mind.

To condense this, it is important to constantly review and test core activities at each stage. Assess the effectiveness of each activity and eliminate unnecessary steps. For example, the results of assessment may determine that the sales team should give prospects more information early on, progressing them through the pipeline faster. 

Collaboration with marketing is also key to ensuring each team can have an impact, bringing valuable input and tactics to the process. By agreeing on ideas and strategies, and working together to benchmark performances, the sales cycle can be streamlined. 

  1. Use CRM

Central to tracking leads and prioritising follow-ups are pipeline management tools. Using a customer relationship management [CRM] system, it is easy to see where each opportunity or lead sits in the sales pipeline and the journey to date.

Gaining a 360-degree view of each prospect from the first engagement all the way through the customer life cycle provides a wealth of knowledge on how leads progress through to close. This allows businesses to identify the most effective activities to continually improve the sales process.