5 Tips to create an Effective Sales Pipeline

In the PREVIOUS ARTICLE we described what a sales pipeline and sales funnel are. When you learn to better manage your sales funnel and sales pipeline. You have a powerful tool, which will allow you to design a sales forecast that will accurately predict how much revenue you can expect to generate each week, month, quarter, annually or within any other chosen time frame.

Developing a winning sales Pipeline

  • Ensure that each sales professional has sufficient qualified future customers in their sales pipeline, to support them to achieve their sales targets.
  • Track the right Real-time data to support your sales teams’ efforts, to move their future customers through their Sales Funnels.
  • Understand the activities, value adds and processes that need to be conducted to move your sales teams deals through their sales funnels
  • Understand the triggers needed to encourage future customers to move from one stage to the next within their sales funnels
  • Conduct pipeline coaching sessions at least once a week, with all sales team members
  • Explore new opportunities and make decisions on their viability for each week/ /month/ quarter
  • Sales professionals to be coached regularly, but empowered to take real ownership of their sales funnels

Ensure that each sales professional has sufficient qualified future customers in their sales pipeline, to support them to achieve their sales targets

For any sales pipeline to be successful, it is crucial that is designed and developed from the get go with the objective of achieving your sales quota. In other words, it is crucial that there is a sufficient flow of new qualified leads to ensure it is possible to achieve your sales target.

The following sales Funnel metrics must be available in Real-time or at worst at your finger tips:

  • Total number of qualified deals in your sales pipeline and funnel
    • Based on your closing ratio (win rate). Are there enough deals at each stage in your sales funnel process, to achieve your sales target?
  • The size of each expected deal
    • Expected Monthly, quarterly and annual revenue
    • What is the average size of each deal?
    • What is the expected lifetime value of each deal?
  • Closing ratio
    • How long will it take to move each deal through each stage of the sales funnel process – sales velocity?
    • Win rate – how many of the deals will you close in the next week, month and quarter

The most crucial information for any sales leader to have at their fingertips is this:

Is each sales team member producing sufficient new opportunities to support them to achieve their sales target”?

Understanding what needs to be done at each stage in your sales funnel process, to keep deals moving through your sales funnel.

Creating the communication strategy to support your Sales Process

When you want to support your sales team to move deals through their sales pipeline, you can utilise all or some of the ideas listed below:

Remember that your sales pipeline, needs to be filled with:

  • Qualified future customers
  • Qualified referrals
  • Edified qualified referrals
  • Cross and upselling opportunities at existing customers

It is six times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. It is also far easier to upsell or cross sell, additional products or services to your existing customers. Ensure that you have a sound strategy in place to support you to wow and retain existing customers, so that they will:

  • Offer you referrals
  • They will edify referrals and make acquiring future customers a breeze.
  • You will get testimonials to support your sales efforts
  • Satisfied customers are far more likely to buy additional products or services from you

The role of a sales leader is to coach his or her sales team members, to

  • Ensure that there are sufficient opportunities in their sales pipeline to support them to achieve their sales targets, weekly, monthly and quarterly
  • Support them to move their qualified prospects through the various sales processes within their sales funnel. Sales Professionals must have enough velocity in their sales pipelines.

Understanding the Math behind achieving sales targets

Target                          $ 100 000/month

Average sale size        $ 10 000

This means that this sales professional needs to close 10 Deals/month to achieve his or her sales target.

No of Deals = Sales Target/Average sale size

Qualified Leads required to fill Sales Pipeline

The first thing to do is to know what your closing ratio is. This is a ratio, which measures how many customers you close, out of how many opportunities you get or create.

Closing Ratio               50 % or 5 out of 10

If you have a closing percentage of 50 %, then you need to generate 20 sales Opportunities to close 10 sales

No of opportunities required in sales pipeline = 10/50 % = 20 

Ensuring that there are sufficient opportunities in your sales Pipeline is crucial, if you are to achieve your sales targets or quotas.

The next important metric to measure is:

The flow of your opportunities through your sales process or sales funnel. In the PREVIOUS ARTICLE we showed a sales process or sales funnel as depicted below:

You obviously need to ensure that you have enough “QUALIFIED LEADS” or deals going into the top of your sales funnel. The next crucial step for any sales leader, is to track and support (coach) your sales team members to ensure that they move each deal through each stage of your sales process, as smoothly and quickly as possible.

The more coaching support and guidance you can offer to your sales team members, to encourage them to move their future customers through all the stages within your sales funnel, the easier it will be to achieve your sales targets.

Action Idea: You must know and regularly measure your sales pipeline metrics and you must support your sales team to move each deal as quickly and smoothly through your sales process or sales pipeline as possible.

Coach and support your sales team to do the following:

  • Qualify sufficient leads to ensure that they close sufficient deals at an average sales value to achieve their individual sales targets.
  • Create awareness with your future customers, by offering Coaching and guiding your sales team to create relevant content, which highlights your organisations level of expertise.
    • Distribute this to each sales persons’ “MAGNIFICENT 50“future customers using a MULTICHANNEL COMMUNICATION STRATEGY
    • The purpose of this multichannel communication strategy, is to engage your future customers and to show them how both your sales professionals and your organisation, can help your future customers, to make things better in the future
    • The content they distribute must be designed to show your future customers that both your sales professionals and organisation are the go to experts in their field and markets.
  • Support your sales professionals to hold sufficient discovery meetings with future customers, to ensure they close sufficient deals to achieve their sales targets or quotas
    • Ensure that they hold sufficient discovery meetings, to ensure that they close sufficient deals, at the average sales value, to ensure that they achieve their sales targets?
  • Guide them to connect the information they have discovered during their discovery meetings, so that they can connect your value proposition to each specific future customer’s needs and values.
  • Guide them to tailor their proposals to speak to each specific personality type in a way they understand.

  • As you can see from the description below it is crucial to tailor each proposal to firstly speak to each future customers unique needs, values and expectations
  • Secondly it is crucial to use language in your proposal that they will understand and respond to positively
  • Socialisers want to know, WHO your proposal will affect and how it will support their team to be better
  • Organisers want to know HOW your product or service will support them. They want a systematic outline outlining exactly HOW everything will work for them
  • Learners want to know as much detail as possible. They need to know WHAT your product or service will do for them and their organisation
  • Dominants want an executive summary outlining WHY your product or service is the best option to make them and their organisation look great

Engaging your future customers

After delivering the proposal the next crucial stage is the engagement stage. During this phase it is critical to “FOLLOW THOUGH” on a regular basis.

Follow through is a process of meaningful engagement, where you seek to:

  • Be of service
  • During this phase we send our future customers e-Zines designed to offer support around subjects like handling rejection, mitigating objections etc.
    • These e-Zines serve to add meaningful value, whilst also showcasing what we can do for our clients
  • Show how you can support your future customer to
    • Optimise the efficiencies of themselves or their team
    • Improve their bottom line
    • Reduce their costs
    • Help them to sleep at night (Solve a challenge)
    • Optimise their life experience 0Provide a perfect Solution)
  • You actively look for ways to consistently add value to the relationship
  • You actively look for ways you can integrate into your future customers business, so that you can form a meaningful partnership with them

Adding Value

The best way I can describe adding meaningful value to each deal to move it towards completion, is by giving you an example, which I use in my own organisation.

  • After conducting the discovery meeting, we don’t leave the meeting without setting up the next meeting, which is the one where we deliver the tailored proposal.
  • We invest time to ensure that we have written each tailored proposal to suite each specific clients unique needs.
  • We ensure that we speak to each personality type in a way that they understand, how to connect our value proposition to their needs, values and expectations
  • We then offer to deliver a complimentary 60-minute talk to our clients sales team.
    • This gives us the opportunity to showcase what we can do for them
    • It also gives us an opportunity to get to meet the entire sales team
  • If we still have not managed to close the deal, we then offer a free 360-degree assessment process, which measures eight crucial sales competencies.
    • This report generates a coaching report to support the sales leadership to improve the coaching with their sales teams.
    • It also gives us insights to where the sales team needs the most training and support.
  • At this stage we have normally closed a major proportion of our deals, but should we still have a few open deals, we then offer to invest two hours with the sales leadership team to help them develop or enhance their predictable sales process.
    • This gives us the opportunity to spend two hours with the sales leadership team, where they can get to see the skills we bring to the table
    • This information serves as one of the ways we gather the input we need to deliver tailored sales or sales leadership training, which offers a real return on investment to our future customers

Explore each phase in the sales process, as each sales team member moves each deal through the sales funnel. The objective of each sales leader has got to be not just inspecting the progress of each deal through the sales pipelines of their team members, but rather to coach and support each sales member to move things along as quickly as possible.

Sales Managers – Inspect the numbers and prepare pointless reports

Sales Leaders – Coach, encourage and are involved in making things happen

Why do you need to have measurement criterion?

I am sure most of you are thinking analysis – paralysis or if you spend so much time measuring the progress of your deals through your sales pipeline, you will have little time to actually SELL. The truth is – “WHAT GETS MEASURED – GETS DONE”. In other words when you invest the time to set up systems, which support you to measure all the crucial metrics and you evaluate, your sales performance against these metrics. You are able to answer one really crucial question, namely: “ARE THE SALES ACTIVITIES I AM PERFORMING DAILY DELIVERING THE OUTCOMES I WANT”?

If they are not it allows you to take whatever corrective action you need to take, until your daily sales activities do indeed deliver the outcomes you want. Remember that all progress requires change, but not all change results in progress. In other words, you will need to keep measuring your progress against the various metrics. Then you will need to keep honing and polishing your daily sales activities, until you start to achieve the outcomes you want.

What needs to be measured?

  • 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

In the next article, we will explore the above concepts in more detail.

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