Every company wants to build and maintain a high performance customer acquisition engine. The best way to do it is by using a sales pipeline through which you can define your sales process step by step. From the initial contact with a prospect to closing the sale, the pipeline is the tool to consult for each stage of the process. Having a clear view of the entire process allows you to define, evaluate and finally optimize each step along the way.
But simply having the tool is not enough. If you want to be successful, you need a strong strategy and good management. But how can you accomplish that? How can you effectively manage a sales pipeline? Simply follow the next 6 steps:
1. Find your Prospects
First of all you need to create a pipeline. Before we can talk about managing your pipeline, you need to have one. But where will you find your leads? There are many ways to generate leads. Look at the prospect objectively and record the name, primary address and contact details, the value of the deal, what they are interested in (particular product or service) and the closing date. This information will be stored into your database so that whenever you access the prospect’s account, you will have all the information you need at your disposal. These are critical pieces of information that will ultimately have an impact on how successful your proposal and follow up will be.
2. Prepare the right Content
The second step to successful management of a sales pipeline is having the right content. If you think that a sales pipeline is just about selling you are wrong. It’s about educating, an exchange of thoughts and ideas. You offer something valuable (article, whitepaper, guide, advice) and you get something valuable from the customer (their time, attention, etc). Most of the time, the content you send to the prospect relates to what you can offer. You can also include the content in an automated email. What’s more, you have to take into account the sales process, the customer characteristics and the data you’ve collected at the beginning. All these factors will shape the type of content you should create.
Follow-up is critical to close on any request for business. One of the most common mistakes that sales teams make is the lack of follow-up. It is really easy to forget to follow up. Often it is the person that follows up best that ends up with the sale. So use automated tasks and reminders to prompt a one-to-one follow up call or to trigger an automated email follow up.
4. Measure Results
How would you know when a lead has passed one stage and is ready to move to another? Having clear metrics that would measure the progress of your lead down the funnel is the answer. For each prospect, track and measure your successes (and failures)! Tracking the results of your sales forecasting – especially in a CRM – measures your closure rate and the accuracy of your sales dollars and volume pipeline. Accurate sales forecasting optimizes business planning and cash flow.
5. Analyze Results and Improve
Evaluating your sales process and performance improvements when necessary is a huge part of the sales pipeline management process. Now that you’ve tracked the key information and actions on each potential sale, you have a roadmap to success. All you have to do now is repeat the path that has earned sales and stay away from the actions where sales were lost. Also you should always try to find ways to improve your strategies and adjust the sales process to your needs.
6. Invest in the right Tools
You may have all the data, the right content and measurements in place but this is not sufficient. You also need a good CRM system to incorporate all these infomation. A sales engagement platform can effectively organize your content by saving you and your team tons of time and effort thus making it easier for marketing to update and share and also easier for sales to access and put to use.