Regardless of sector, product or service, navigating in today’s challenging business environment demands a sustainable flow of sales. To achieve this, a strong and measurable sales pipeline is important for both the sales and marketing team to be successful.
If managed well, sales pipelines can provide clear snapshots of information, such as the most effective sales activities, the likelihood of closing within a certain period of time, the possibility that marketing needs to be nurtured further and how close sales representatives are to achieving their quotas. . Nevertheless, more than half of the directors * said that their efficiency in operating the pipeline was weak or neutral.
John Cheney, CEO, Worksbooks, provides practical pipeline management tips for businesses to optimize lead generation, qualification, and nurturing processes and ultimately increase sales and marketing success.
- Identify profitable prospects
Adopting a data-driven approach to pipeline management is crucial. By identifying the right metrics, leads can be intelligently scored and qualified, helping sales and marketing teams prioritize prospects more effectively. Both parties should agree on a standard customer profile, which can be used to give lead rates. In addition, demographic and behavioral information can inform priorities, allow delegates to invest their time in investment possibilities that may be transformative and quickly identify those who need further nurturing through marketing. The value of close cooperation between the two groups will be highest.
- Remove unresponsive leads from pipeline
Teams should not be afraid to drop dead lead to make the sales pipeline flow more. This prevents delegates from wasting time on deals that can never land and requires more engagement from the marketing team where highlighted. Using sales data and metrics, teams can identify unresponsive leads and remove them from the pipeline. With additional marketing assistance, delegates can focus on the possibility of prioritizing and returning cold leads to the pipeline at a later stage.
- Collaborate, review and develop
Taking the time to regularly review processes enables sales and marketing teams to fine-tune the sales pipeline and improve engagement at each stage of the process. This includes consolidating the sales cycle to maximize the chances of a transaction closing. In addition to demanding more time and resources, the longer sales cycle brings with it the possibility of moving to a competitor or the risk of exiting the contract.
To avoid this and to improve the process, it is important that businesses constantly review and examine key activities at each stage. What is the purpose of each activity? Unnecessary steps can be removed? For example, testing procedures may highlight possibilities that benefit from more detailed information. The cycle can be subtly tuned in response and future prospects will quickly move through the pipeline.
Each team can make an impact, maximizing their respective contributions to the process to ensure close collaboration between sales and marketing. With agreed definitions and strategies, sales and marketing teams can work together for benchmark performance, further streamlining the sales cycle.
- Improve visibility with CRM
Pipeline management tools enable businesses to effectively track leads and prioritize follow-ups. A customer relationship management (CRM) system provides insights into where each lead sits in the sales pipeline and the journey to date, providing important insights for both sales and marketing teams.
This 360-degree view of every possibility, starting with the first engagement and covering the entire customer’s life cycle, provides invaluable insights into how progress can be stopped. Equipped with this knowledge, sales and marketing teams can identify the most effective activities to continuously improve the sales process, ultimately increase profitability and achieve shared goals.
* Vantage Point Performance and Sales Management Association, create value in sales pipeline conversations