5 Tips to create an Effective Sales Pipeline (Part 2)

The secret to utilise sales pipeline leadership and coaching techniques, to optimise sales in your organisation is to ensure that your sales leaders measure the following:

  • No of deals in your sales pipeline
  • The velocity that these deals move through your sales funnel
  • Average size of deal closed
  • How many deals are there at each stage
  • How long has each deal been stuck at each stage?
  • What needs to be done to move each deal forward to the next stage?
  • Actual size of deals closed
  • Age of opportunity (Sales Velocity)
  • Closing ratio or win rate

To measure the above criterion effectively, your sales leadership must set up your CRM system and dashboards with all the above metrics and triggers. Sales coaching sessions must be about support and guidance to help your sales team members to move deals through the various stages in their sales funnels. They can never be feedback or enquiry sessions, designed to find out what is going on.

In other words, sales leaders must create a feedback system that supports them to effectively measure all the above criterion in real time. They need to have a crystal-clear understanding around all the crucial metrics described above and utilise this to prepare for every coaching session.

Sales Coaching

During each sales coaching session, a well-prepared leader does not waste time on enquiry. They know exactly what is going on and where the sticking points are. Their role during each sales coaching session is all about highlighting sticking points and offering guidance around how to increase the velocity of deals through each sales person’s sales funnel.

No of deals in each sales persons Sales Pipeline

Each sales pipeline or predictable sales process is different. To help you understand how to uncover exactly how many opportunities each sales person, in your organisation, needs in their sales pipeline and how to increase the velocity of each deal.

You will need to explore the following:

  • Percentage of opportunities at each stage in your sales cycle
    • A deal that is at the “Add Value” stage is far more likely to close than one at the “Lead Qualification” stage
  • As you monitor the progress of deals through your sales team’s pipelines, you will notice sticking points
    • If most of, a sales team members deals are stuck at a specific stage, then the coaching they need is obvious.
      • They need coaching support to help them to overcome whatever is holding things up at that stage.
      • Example: If 60 % of deals are at proposal stage and the rest are spread across the other stages, that specific sales team member needs training on follow-through techniques to support them to more effectively engage with their future customers.
    • Keep an eye on how many qualified leads actually flow through the sales funnel.
      • So, called qualified leads, which get stuck at the create awareness stage means that specific sales person may need coaching to support them to better qualify their prospects.
    • Another metric to observe closely, is the time taken to move from “Present Proposal” stage to the “Engaging Phase”.
      • If your sales team is getting bogged down here, it is a sign that they are not arranging a follow-through meeting before leaving the “Present Proposal” meeting.
      • It is crucial to keep the time frame between the “Present Proposal” stage and the “Engaging” stage as short as possible.
    • Percentage of opportunities, with a proposal in hand
      • I believe that between 95 to 100 % of discovery meetings need to convert into “Presented Proposals
      • Unless tailored proposal is presented timeously, how does your future customer know the following:
        • How your value proposition connects to their needs and expectations
        • How you can support them to:
          • Optimise their bottom line
          • Reduce costs
          • Optimise their life experience (Obtain the right solution)
          • Sleep at night (Solve challenges)
          • Save them time
        • How will they know how your pricing model works and how it will support them?
        • How you propose to integrate into their business and become an additional resource to them?
      • Another metric, which is crucial is the velocity of each opportunity through each sales team members sales funnel.
        • Know what the average is for an opportunity to sit at each stage and put controls in place to identify any opportunities, which take longer than expected to move from one stage to the next.
      • To optimise the velocity of deals or opportunities through each sales funnel, make sure that the following is in place
        • Every opportunity at every stage must have a future task that will be performed.
        • There must be a deadline in place for when this task will be performed.
        • Next steps and deadlines to complete these is what promotes velocity through each sales funnel
      • The final metric to monitor is the number of activities performed/deal
        • This metric will help a sales leader to identify, which opportunities have not received sufficient attention
        • This tool gives sales leaders the opportunity to bring opportunities, which are at risk of being lost back into play

How often should a sales leader review each sales funnel?

Once you have created a system or dashboard, which helps you to measure the above metrics in a real time fashion. It is essential that you engage each sales team member at least once a week, to coach and support them to move opportunities through their sales funnel.

Always look for exceptions.

Exceptions are:

  • Deals, which seem to fly through the sales pipeline.
    • These serve as learning opportunities.
    • What helped the deal move more quickly?
    • What was done differently?
  • Deals, which take longer than expected to flow through each sales pipeline
    • Offer specific coaching support to help increase the velocity of these deals
    • Pay special attention to deals, which seem to be taking longer than expected
    • Check the deals, which seem bogged down to see if sufficient activities have been performed to promote the movement of the deal through the sales pipeline

I believe that sales coaching sessions should be conducted on a Friday afternoon. This gives your team the opportunity to be prepared for a powerful week. As you interpret the metrics as described above on a weekly basis and you offer your sales team members the individual coaching they need. You will improve the velocity of all the deals through each sales pipeline and you will have a far clearer idea about, which deals have a strong likelihood of being closed.

When a sales leader tracks the above metrics, they equip themselves to be both an effective coach to their team and they have a far clearer idea around what is going on in your sales teams. This approach will at first seem like a lot of work, but once you have built your systems, it will become easier and easier.

The huge benefit of using this new approach is as follows:

  • Your team will be more motivated as they will be coached and supported
  • You will have far more accurate forecasts
  • You will become far more effective as sales leader
  • Should there be any predicted shortfalls, you will have more time to remedy this

Summary

From a sales leader’s perspective, having all the crucial metrics available in one place in real time is crucial.

  • It helps you to become and effective coach to your sales team
  • You can quickly help to move stalled deals along the sales pipeline
  • It keeps your sales team focused on small steps required to complete each deal
  • It makes managing each sales persona sales funnel a breeze
  • You get more accurate forecast info
  • You get to create a more predictable and successful pipeline

 

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