Why Pipeline Management Does Not Work
Strong sales pipelines are busy main roads, driving directly into the heart of a companies revenue and cash flow. Sales need to keep that road open and busy. Current pipeline management methods are meant to keep the traffic flowing, so why are they often flawed?
Taking a haphazard approach to sales pipeline management serves no one. Targets are missed. Revenue is unpredictable. Cashflow put at risk. No one benefits from poor pipeline management, especially sales leaders who have to justify figures and performance with senior managers.
Here are a few ways you can improve the management of sales leads in your pipeline.
#1: Quicker response times
Too often, when reviewing prospects with agents, conversations focus on two types of leads: brand new, the bigger, the better, or those most likely to close in next week or two. Prospects can fall through the gaps between those. Leads that aren’t big and shiny, or just about to become customers, aren’t always treated as a high priority.
Fast call-back and email response times increase conversion rates. Otherwise, interested prospects go elsewhere.
#2: Are your agents realistic?
Realism is a moveable feast in sales. Agents lean towards optimism, which can cause a cycle of highs and lows, when prospects that once sounded promising drop off the radar, never to be mentioned. Instead, push agents for realistic answers on the viability of a lead. Have they assessed the prospect thoroughly? Do they have a budget? Are they ready to make a purchase?
Optimism is great, it helps agents cope with daily rejection, but it only serves to reduce productivity when it overrides realism in favour of a rose-tinted view of sales prospects.
#3: Is your team focusing too hard on prospects?
What do you do when you hear the same names over and over again from sales agents? Worry. Sales leaders should worry. Focusing too much on a handful of prospects is an indication that a pipeline is quiet. Too quiet. This means taking time to assess current opportunities and find ways to increase the number of prospects, before your boss starts to ask questions.
#4: Do you have the right kind of prospects in the pipeline?
What do you do when you hear the same names over and over again from sales agents? Worry. Sales leaders should worry. Focusing too much on a handful of prospects is an indication that a pipeline is quiet. Too quiet. This means taking the time to assess current opportunities and find ways to increase the number of prospects before your boss starts to ask questions.
Current pipeline management techniques focus on outcomes, rather than inputs. A deal is never closed until it’s closed. Ensure your agents respond quickly, take a realistic view, know whether a prospect is viable and have sufficient numbers in the pipeline to move each forward at the right pace.
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