Sales pipeline management is an essential tool for sales teams. In fact, according to learnings growth in revenue is related to pipeline management. Also, companies that have an explicit well defined sales process have a maximum revenue growth than those who don’t. This indicates clearly that a sales pipeline is critical for your sales force.
Here, you’ll get all that you need to know about the sales pipeline and how an effective sales pipeline management system can make a difference to boost your business.
What is a sales pipeline?
A Sales Pipeline is an extensive visual display of your opportunities in different stages of your sales process. It is actually a specific set of steps taken to convert a lead into a customer. This snapshot of your deals helps you keep track of every deal’s status as it moves through your sales pipeline.
Difference between a sales pipeline and a sales funnel
Sales pipeline and sales funnel are usually misunderstood to be the same. Similarly, like two sides of the same coin carrying the same value but distinct design. The sales pipeline and sales funnel are discrete, both in data and the representation of the data.
Sales Pipeline is about deals whereas Sales Funnel is about leads.
The sales pipeline covers every stage in your sales process cycle a sales rep takes to move a deal from start to close. Whereas, the sales funnel is the steps in the buying process leads go through before becoming your customers. Ideally, your sales process cycle should align with the buyer’s journey.
What is the sales pipeline management system?
As we know, there’s no business without sales. Sales are the soul of every business, irrespective of its size. With this, you can measure how your business is performing. That explains why having a sales management system is essential for your business.
But hurdles to sales management lead to the clogged sales pipelines, lengthy sales cycles and non-existent lead management eventually leading to ambiguity. The need of the hour is to empower and strengthen sales teams with tools to develop a thriving sales management system. While sales management mainly focuses on the techniques, application of sales operations and processes to meet sales objectives whereas sales pipeline management focuses on one key element — the sales process.
Modern systems like online CRM systems or cloud CRM help you visualize the number of open deals, their status, expected sales, distribution of deals among sales reps, and more through a snapshot of the sales pipeline.
Do you need one?
Have you ever wondered why your sales team is always unable to meet its quarterly targets? Why has maintaining a healthy sales pipeline system become a challenging effort? Sales audits of different sales processes in various organizations generally reveal that sales reps want to sell more than anything else. They find a thrill in surpassing their quarterly objectives. What’s stopping them? A messy and ambiguous sales process in tools like spreadsheets and unproductive manual data entry prevents you from achieving your full potential.
With the growing expectations of customers and rapidly growing target pressures, sales teams need a comprehensive system like an online sales CRM software that accelerates focus on relationship building, automates the sales pipeline and helps sales reps close more deals faster.
How to define and build your sales pipeline?
In your attempt to make smarter, efficient and informed decisions, the sales pipeline work as a flare of light as leads progress and transition into the next stage of the buying cycle. The sales pipeline breaks the deal into various stages according to your business needs based on which sales teams make decisions based on circumstances to engage with leads.
Using online CRM software or cloud CRM, sales teams can smartly and easily build a comprehensive sales pipeline by defining your business specific stages in one or more pipelines. For a business that follows a normal B2B sales process, this is how your sales pipeline stages might be:
Deal created : An opportunity is analyzed and identified with a potential buyer, and a record is created as the initial step to closing a deal successfully.
Initiate contact : A sales rep tries to contact the lead to understand their business and their needs. At this stage, it helps you map your business services against the lead’s requirements.
Schedule meeting or product demo : After your first conversation, if the lead is convinced with the services you provide, then based on your business, you may schedule a product demo. Otherwise, you may try to set up a meeting with the decision maker towards negotiating the deal.
Negotiation : The lead has shown interest to buy your services and is now arriving at the negotiation phase. You negotiate on price, services, support, etc. to make a cost-effective sale, and submit your proposal.
Won or Lost : The final or closing stage in your sales process where you record the outcome of your deal. If it’s finalized between you and the buyer, you mark the deal as closed-won or closed-lost. Alternatively, there are cases when the buyer is not ready to buy yet. In this scenario, you may mark them as nurture to check back later and plan for the follow-up schedule.
An online CRM software with a good sales pipeline management system enables you to configure the stages in multiple sales pipelines based on your business needs and internal structure.
How to manage your sales pipeline?
With the help of the sales pipeline, you can evaluate and improve your sales process by providing a quick overview of your open opportunities. Simply defining and building your sales pipeline is not enough, but also learning how to effectively manage it. An online CRM software minimizes the burden of managing your sales pipeline by systematically organizing your pipeline opportunities. The pipeline snapshot helps sales teams be more focused and organized to close more deals swiftly.
An efficient cloud CRM allows you to perform actions directly from the sales pipeline view and manage your deals without having to switch screens for every action. For example, you’re in the pipeline view and observed that you missed to follow-up on a deal. Now, you can call or send an email to the lead with the help of the pipeline. After that, you can move on to the deal card to the next stage.
Some Best practices to manage Sales pipeline
Rember to follow up
The best salespeople will make sure that they follow up with the leads in order to land sales. One way to follow up the leads properly is to keep reminders which notifies you each time to follow up with the prospect.
Focus up on the leads
Make sure that you concentrate on the efforts on the best, most sales-ready, high value leads and avoid getting distracted by anything that won’t push the needle for your business.
Drop dead leads
It is important to focus on the high-value leads, it is also equally important to know when to go off leads. Letting go of a lead is difficult when you have spent months or weeks building a relationship and nurturing with them. A lead is dead when they are not interested, you cannot contact them. Identify these dead leads quickly so that you can move on to the next lead.
Monitor pipeline metrics
A sales pipeline is a living and breathing entity that changes all the time. So you need to monitor the key sales metrics that it produces which includes like :
- Average size of the deals in the pipeline
- Lifetime of the deal before its closed
- Number of deals in your pipeline
- Average percentage of the deals you win.
Review your pipeline regularly
The best organizations will regularly review their sales pipeline and technique to make sure that they are properly optimized to ensure maximum efficiency and tuning the success.
Create a standardized sales process
You may notice that your sales reps are employing varying sales techniques. Your ideal customers will have a lot of things in common. The truth is their need and reasons for buying your product are similar and that you should use the advantage to standardize your sales.
How to measure your sales pipeline?
The sales pipeline displays where your capital lies in your sales cycle process. It divides opportunities by each stage and shows you the deals count and the total value of those deals. The sales pipeline informs you if a deal has spent too long at any given stage; so you can take action to move the deal. You can also know how your team is performing by pipeline views.
Some online CRMs, show colour-coded icons for deal tasks in the pipeline that gives you a quick idea if tasks are overdue, pending or complete. With the help of a pipeline, you can track and find how efficient each sales rep is in closing deals and meeting business targets. The advantage of a sales pipeline is that it helps you to track your opportunities and manage your business’ health and growth.
Use SalesBabu Cloud CRM for your sales pipeline management
SalesBabu sales pipeline is a visual snapshot of your pipeline management system. You can know the value of your deals at each stage. It helps you estimate incoming cash flow and future plan your business accordingly. You can filter and sort deals, and switch between pipelines in just a few clicks. Now you know how much business you’re likely to close in the coming months, spot bottlenecks, and drive them to closure. Close more deals with less work.