3 Corporate Obstacles to Effective Sales Pipeline Management

Kevin F. Davis, Author, The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness

Sales pipeline management is a one-on-one conversation that a sales manager has with a salesperson about the opportunities the rep is currently working on and the likelihood of hitting the monthly sales projection. Unfortunately, many companies inadvertently place obstacles in their managers’ way — obstacles that inhibit effective pipeline management from paying off as it should. Here are some of the most common corporate obstacles to sales pipeline management.

Obstacle #1: Your pipeline labels are seller-focused, not buyer-centric.

The seller-focused sales model emphasizes the steps a rep should take in order to sell. The problem with these pipeline labels is they reflect the actions salespeople take, not what the customer does. Knowing that a rep has submitted a proposal doesn’t tell you anything about what’s going on inside the customer’s head.

While it’s possible for many salespeople to do a decent job of selling by following a company’s sales process, it’s a mistake to emphasize the rep’s actions. It leads both the sales manager and the rep failing to dive into the reasons why a sale did or did not go through.

Obstacle #2: The labels of each pipeline stage don’t match your sales training program.

A common disconnect occurs when a company implements a new sales training program but doesn’t bother to change the labels in their pipeline management tool to match the sales training. When there’s a mismatch between your sales training program and your pipeline stages, what typically gets lost over time is the sales training.

Effective sales pipeline management occurs when sales managers help their reps to recognize gaps in their strategies and see new, more effective ways to proceed. The most helpful sales pipeline management and coaching advice occurs in real time, in the early and middle phases of a sales opportunity when the rep can implement those coaching lessons to win. After all, the size of a purchase is determined by customers in the earlier phases of their buying process, not later.

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