In previous Varicent articles, we’ve talked at length about sales pipelines and what they mean to your sales team. Now, we’re delving a little deeper with some sales pipeline analysis, so you can better understand the sales pipeline and its benefits and be clear on how it differs from the sales funnel and sales forecasts. We’ll also look at sales pipeline management best practices and how the right pipeline CRM software can help you manage and measure your pipeline in a way that heralds sales success and growth.
What is a Sales Pipeline?
Sales Pipeline Stages
Benefits of a Sales Pipeline
- More streamlined sales
- The ability to forecast business results
- Clarity on how to allocate resources to support sales
- An analysis of whether the sales strategy is working for your business
- An overview of current fiscal and territorial progress
- Insight into where you are in terms of your KPIs and targets
Sales Pipeline vs Sales Forecast
Sales Pipeline vs Sales Funnel
How to Build a Sales Pipeline
- Who is your product designed for?
- What does that customer look like, and what are their needs?
- How do you secure and find the right type and number of prospects?
- What Are Your Customer Interested In?
- Does this product meet my customer demographic?
- Is it affordable/useful/marketable?
- Does this clash with a similar offering?
2. Know the Winning Numbers for your Sales PipelineA sales pipeline process isn’t something that’s thought up overnight, nor does it exist in isolation. Backing up every stage are your company’s wider objectives and carefully defined key performance indicators (KPIs). Everyone working to complete a part of the sales pipeline needs a very clear idea of:
- How many deals need to be achieved per month, quarter, or year?
- Do warm-up conversations count toward compensation pay-outs as much as closing a deal?
- How long will it take to move through the pipeline stages?
The common truth, as we saw when concentrating on the sales funnel, is that not every prospect gets to the negotiation stage, and even those that do may be lost before a deal is closed.This is where the right software can really shape and support your sales conversations and decision-making. Automated compensation calculations take the guesswork out of figuring out how much more you need to achieve to close, while quota management and territory planning tools ensure everyone in the sales team has the amount of customer, product, and area that they can manage. These metrics reports are the key to having an informed, incentivized team that can refer to real-time information on easy-to-read dashboards. They are also what give your sales pipeline shape and fluidity as your team progresses through the stages.
- Be certain you’re talking to the right people at the right time: Whether this is having a conversation with the person that controls the purchasing budget, a booked call or meeting post-proposal, or the official opening of negotiations, you can’t pop the champagne cork arbitrarily.
- Decide and agree on the event or activity that heralds the beginning of the next sales pipeline stage: Make sure that you have the analysis and metrics to back up this development.
- Offer an integrated information platform: If you’re navigating a whole team from stage to stage, this is where your field staff needs to be feeding their results into an integrated platform that’s available to all. They can then see where they are with the rest of the team, and you have the evidence of progress or stalling for any performance management review situation.
How to Successfully Manage a Sales Pipeline
An SPM You Can Believe In
Right People, Right Place, Right Result
Motivate to Compensate