5 Best Practices to boost revenue with an effective Sales Pipeline
Sales success in any sales environment, depends on having an effective sales pipeline. Creating a number of different ways of filling your sales pipeline is crucial if you want to excel at sales. A full sales pipeline, which is designed to filter through your sales funnel and turn into closed sales, is the only sure-fire way of achieving your sales quotas every year.
What is a Sales Pipeline?
Your sales pipeline is effectively the different ways that you ensure that you consistently fill your sales funnel, with new qualified leads. The more ways you have of filling your sales pipeline with qualified leads, the better. Imagine if one source of future customers dries up for some reason. If that is the only way you have of filling your sales pipeline, your sales and revenues will reduce dramatically. On the other hand, if you have a number of different ways of filling your sales pipeline, the loss of one source will not have dramatic effect on your sales at all.
Examples of different ways of filling your sales pipeline
- Magnificent 50 future customers
- Telephone sales campaigns
- Email marketing campaigns
- Sales emails
- Marketing emails
- Sharing free resources
- Free motivational talks
- Multi-channel communication strategy
- Content Creation and dissemination
- Social channels
- LinkedIn content dissemination through groups
- LinkedIn content dissemination through the newsfeed
- LinkedIn advertising
- Facebook advertising
- Facebook news feed to spread content
- Twitter advertising
- Twitter newsfeed
- YouTube videos
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Generic searches
- Pay per click
- Radio advertising
- Billboard advertising
- Magazine advertising
I am sure you get the idea. You need as many different ways to fill your sales pipeline as possible. The more effective ways you can come up with the better. Your sales pipeline is effectively all the possible opportunities you have to create partnerships with your future customers.
What is a sales funnel?
Your sales funnel is a visual representation of the processes your future customer needs to go through before they become customers.
I see a typical sales process as follows:
- Lead qualification
- Create awareness
- Discovery meeting
- Present proposal
- Add Value
- Take Action
Moving future customers through your Sales Funnel
When you want to start developing your own sales process or winning sales pipeline. Start by exploring the three crucial stages required, namely, awareness, evaluation and conversion.
- Awareness: Before you can acquire a new customer, they first need to become aware of how you can do the following for them:
- Solve a challenge
- Provide them with an ideal solution
- Save them time
- Reduce their costs
- Optimise their bottom line
- During the Awareness Phase, ask yourself how you can best get your message to your future customer, so that they become aware of how you can “HELP” them.
- Evaluation: Once your future customers become aware of your organisation and they accept they you have a solution for their organisation, they need to first evaluate all possible solutions – Including your competitors solution. To see which one provides them with the best option.
- Conversion: Once your future customers have evaluated your product or service, you need to provide them with a powerful reason to buy your product or service.
Action Idea: Explore your own sales process and try to uncover how you can move your future customers from Awareness – Conversion.
Below is an example of my own sales funnel or sales process. Your industry, customers and markets will require a specific, tailored sales funnel or predictable sales process, which will support you to convert as many prospects into customers as possible.
Sales Pipeline and Sales Funnel Management
Understanding how to manage the process of moving your future customers through your sales funnel and creating long term mutually beneficial partnerships with them, is crucial if you want to consistently achieve your sales quotas.
Effective sales funnel management allows sales professionals to keep track of potential deals by knowing exactly what stage they are in. Each stage in the sales process requires different actions. It also allows you to evaluate all the deals you do have to see if you have enough of them to meet your sales targets.
Effective Sales Funnel Management
The best way to manage your sales funnel is to understand and to monitor all metrics related to each stage in the sales funnel.
You need to measure the following:
- How many leads are qualified per month by sales pipeline source
- Conversion rate from qualification to actual Discovery meetings held
- The acceptance of value offers and how this converts into sales
- Conversion rate of proposal into closed deals
- Size of average deals closed
- Average sales cycle length
- Closing ratio (Win Rate)
- TOTAL NUMBER OF OPEN OPPORTUNITIES
The following are crucial practices Related to Sales Funnel Management, if any company is to thrive:
Research conducted by Harvard university showed that organisations with clearly defined sales processes or said differently a clearly defined process around “HOW” their sales team members need to operate to sell effectively, achieved an additional 18 % in sales per annum. Organisations with a credible, formalised sales process were at a huge advantage over those without a clearly defined sales process.
A clearly defined sales process clearly defines the following:
- Clearly defined stages or milestones, which need to be achieved
- These stages need to be universally understood by all sales professionals in the organisation
- These stages need to be crystal clear and the sales professionals need to know what they need to do to move each deal, from one stage to the next.
- Your sales process should also align with how your future customers are moved through the buying process.
- Your sales process must be designed for your specific organisation and the markets you serve. A generic process will deliver poor sales results.
- Invest the time to develop a relevant, meaningful sales process and you will equip your sales team with the tools they need to succeed.
Invest a minimum of Three hours a month on Sales Funnel Management
The Harvard study showed that organisations with a clearly defined, meaningful sales process, who invested a minimum of three hours a month managing the progression of deals through this process, saw an 11 % increase in sales.
- Ensure that the time invested into sales funnel management is not focused on forecasting.
- You are forecasting if most of your time is spent discussing closing dates, probabilities and deal sizes.
- Invest time managing your sales funnel doing the following
- Discuss the overall health of your sales funnel
- How to move deals through the funnel
- New ideas to increase the rate of movement of deals through the sales funnel
- How to Shepard more deals towards closure
- The primary focus when managing your sales funnel, has got to be around developing plans to move deals forward to the next phase in the sales process.
- Don’t waste time scrubbing CRM data and forecasting revenue
Sales Leaders need to understand how to Manage Sales Funnels
Organisations with properly trained sales leaders, who understood how to manage sales funnels properly enjoy a 9% improvement in sales revenues.
Sales Leaders need to understand that sales funnel management is never about:
- Managing CRM tools
- Generating reports
Effective sales Funnel management is about:
- Making effective sales funnel decisions
- Supporting sales team members to move deals through the sales process
- Sales leaders need to support their teams to consistently develop adequate sales pipelines to guarantee sales quota success
- They need to know how to coach and guide their sales team members to move deals through their sales funnels
- Sales funnel meetings need to be designed to enable meaningful coaching, rather than mere inspection
Sales Funnel management is a critical activity, which needs to be carried out by organisations. When this done effectively, sales performance will soar, and you will have a far more inspired sales team. Effective sales funnel management is all about:
- Having a clearly defined, meaningful sales process
- Sales Leaders need to know how to coach their sales teams to manage their sales funnels effectively
- Sales leaders need to be upskilled to effectively coach their sales teams