The sales pipeline is a visual image to show you how much business you will attempt to close in a given week, month or year, i.e. it provides an overview of current sales opportunities. Sales pipeline management allows you to track open sales opportunities as they move through your sales process, and with proper management, you can analyse problem areas in each stage of the pipeline. Control your pipeline well and you will feel more in control of your sales figures. There are several warning signs you might be not in a control of your sales pipeline.
You spend too much time on administration.
This is the simplest and most obvious one – if you spend hours every week on administration and reporting, you are missing out on productivity and losing the chance to move your sales forward. Also if sales people are spending too much time on administration, then you are using the wrong tools. If you manage your sales pipeline well and have the right tools for it, then you no longer need to spend so much time on admin and can instead focus on what you do best – selling.
Opportunities do not move fast enough from one stage to another.
You have lots of opportunities in the sales pipeline, but feel that you are not able to manage your prospects and sales activities to effectively complete the sales process. Each lead, or opportunity, must be managed, organised and developed. You do that by following-up with your customers.
You do not know how many opportunities you have in the pipeline at each stage.
You don’t have an overview of all your open opportunities and therefore you are not able to recognise your priorities. Your first and most important priority is to focus on the prospects that are “ready to buy”, i.e. the people who have agreed to the terms and conditions of the sale and have an approved budget for it. Next, you need to look at your sales process and focus on the almost ready to buy prospects and do what you can do gently move them further along the funnel. And so on, following up on all of your current prospects, you can then tackle all the administrative work.
You do not know who the decision makers are.
Selling to one person is tough and in most companies there will be several different decision makers and advisers involved. The more expensive or complex your product or service is then naturally the more complex the buying team gets. If you are having a hard time identifying who is in charge of making a decision to buy, you will end up wasting your time and presenting the wrong benefits to the wrong decision makers.
You continue to lose valuable sales data.
One of your sales people leaves and then all the information leaves with that person. You are stuck in the pile of emails trying to pull together all the information on the customer that was being sold to. You then have to try and build a new relationship with the customers. Trust is earned won over time and as long as you don’t have the way to deal with people who leave, you are at risk to neglect a valuable amount of your sales opportunities.
Your sales cycles are too long.
If your sales cycles are too long, the problem is likely to be that you have a gap somewhere in your sales pipeline. When it comes to preventing these gaps, do you know if you need a larger volume of leads or do you need fewer, but more qualified leads?
In order to make the right decision, you need to be in full control of your sales process, know your customer history and how long it takes you to move the lead from prospect to customer. If you don’t have this kind of visibility to your sales pipeline, then you are failing to shorten your sales cycles.
The best way to keep track of and control what’s going on in your pipeline is through CRM software that can be used to manage the sales pipeline. CRM applications provide clear visibility of sales cycles by tracking prospects through each of the sales pipeline stages of your selling process. Having the full visibility of your pipeline and a clear and managed process will bring to the light what works and what’s not on the way to winning deals. To identify where your funnel is leaking does not mean that all the prospects in your pipeline are going to convert, but you will be able to prevent some of the loss.
If you as an owner manger wanting to consider the best way to plan, install migrate to and develop the processes around a sales pipeline focussed CRM, call Phil on 07720 397040 or email him or alternatively contact him via this form below.