More than just a buzzword, a sales pipeline is a visual way of tracking potential buyers through the purchasing journey and, if managed efficiently, can make a significant difference to success. Having a consistent stream of leads feeding into your pipeline is key to business growth and expansion. Here’s what you can do to improve your sales pipeline:
1. Use an efficient follow-up system
Developing a good follow-up system to stay in touch with prospects increases your chances of hanging on to your good leads. Taking time to communicate and stay in touch with prospects increases your chances of building a relationship and increasing your chances of converting to sale.Your strategy should allow consistent and frequent contact through a variety of methods.
Generally, email marketing is an efficient method of following up, but it’s important to think creatively and use varied methods to stay connected to and reconnect with leads. Making a phone call gives you the advantage of two-way dialogue and a greater chance to add value, obtain feedback and agree on next steps! You can also use methods such as connecting on LinkedIn/social media, and sending information packages or invitations to events and webinars that the prospect may find useful.
2. Design a better sales qualification system for qualifying prospects
If the pace of prospecting slows down, the sales pipeline will shrink and sales needs for the business might not be met. This is why it’s so important not to become complacent after achieving benchmark goals, and to qualify sales leads effectively.
Keeping a strong pipeline helps to maximise your efforts, rather than having to spend time prospecting and converting leads from scratch. Ensuring your pipeline is full of qualified prospects helps promote active growth throughout the process.
3. Focus on key metrics
Assessing how well a pipeline is performing is essential to identifying any possible weaknesses early. However, overly focusing on metrics can be a distraction from generating quality outcomes. The key metrics for sales pipeline are:
- Revenue value of the pipeline
- Sales conversion rate
- Number of sales opportunities (leads/appointments)
- Number of calls/emails
- Number of conversations from phone prospecting activity
These metrics can help you understand if there’s any glaring issues, however they distract from the number one goal – winning new business. A team member may only make 20 calls in a day, but if two of those were to prospects who are leads in the pipeline, they could be more fruitful than having made 60 calls that day.
The amount of leads in the pipeline is a useful Key Performance Indicator, but focusing instead on the value of the business you’re looking to win is even more important. If you’re looking for £1M of new business and you have two sales opportunities worth £500k, that’s better than having 20 opportunities in the pipeline worth £60k.
4. Regularly update your CRM with updates on the leads in the pipeline
Keeping your pipeline up to date and ensuring it is efficient throughout will ensure you are using your resources to your best advantage and making accurate, informed decisions.
Sales pipelines can get messy, so here’s what you can do to clean yours up:
- Identify and remove old prospects, and send them a final email before removing them from your pipeline
- Keep your data up to date
- Keep your notes on the opportunity and the prospect’s needs and priorities up to date
- Make sure it is clear which team member is following up the prospect and that their contact is accurately recorded
Have a major revision of your pipeline every year, or twice a year, to ensure new business is generating and converting as expected.
5. Quality over quantity
We’ve already said it once before in this article, but it’s so important that we’re going to say it again. You don’t need to be too worried about the number of leads that are coming in. The quality of those leads is much more important than the quantity of them. Quality leads save your sales team time and allow them to focus on customers that really want to buy. When you come to qualify a lead, your focus has to be long term.
Efficient sales pipeline management is essential, and your success will depend on effective lead generation and sales qualification from the very beginning of your sales process. Check out our sales prospecting solution if you need help generating a sales pipeline.