As a sales manager, you may have heard of the buzzword sales pipeline. The sales process is not just about finding a new prospect, it involves multiple steps, and you may have to get through different phases to manage the sales pipeline. Here is a detailed guide to help you understand how you can develop a more structured way to build a sales pipeline and close more deals.
What is a Sales Pipeline?
Before we dive deep into the process, let us understand the basics. We can say that a sales pipeline is a representation of the entire sales process. It is a systematic way of showing different stages of the process and explains about the potential buyer’s life cycle. A sales pipeline can efficiently explain to the sales representatives the journey of the potential customer. The success and conversion rate may depend on the customer’s response and the sales representative’s proficient skills.
Sales Pipeline Stages
To manage the sales pipeline, you should also understand the different stages involved in the process. Generally, any sales pipeline will involve the following stages:
- Prospecting: The first and most crucial step is to identify the buyer who is looking for the services. It is an attempt by the brand to get noticed by the potential customer. Different businesses adopt different strategies to reach their ideal prospects. While some may use cold calling and email, some may leverage videos and interactive marketing to reach the prospect.
- Lead Qualification: The next stage is to filter out who you want to sell to. You need to understand that everyone cannot be your customer. It is a vital stage as it could save you time from working on the leads who may not be genuinely interested in your product or services.
- Contact: At this stage, the sales representative may try to contact or set up a meeting with the prospect. It is a crucial stage and could even influence the buying decision of the potential customer. Make sure you do not push or rush the process. Try to keep calm and build interest in the potential customer’s mind to manage the sales pipeline effectively.
- Demo: A demo is one of the sales pipeline stages where you showcase the products and services to the prospects in order to convince them to act.
- Negotiation: It is the deciding stage that can make or break the whole process. Avoid arguing and try to find out new possibilities before settling down to an agreement.
- Closing: It is the final stage where the prospect may have decided to finalize or close the deal. Make the payment process and contract as clear as possible to make it easier for the prospect to make the decision.
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How to Manage Sales Pipeline Processes?
The results can only be improved when you focus on each step of the process. Here are practical ways you may follow to improve and manage the sales pipeline more conveniently.
Keep in mind that buyers these days are bombarded with multiple choices. For instance, you search for a pair of shoes, and you will get thousands of options. It is easy for the buyer to switch to another brand as they have multiple options. If you want to close the deal, you need to be more efficient in the process and follow up with the prospect more. Following up is not easy. You may automate the process and send them follow-up emails or can set up a follow-up call to discuss the challenges they are facing.
Work with Sales Pipeline Management System
It is not easy to manage the sales pipeline, especially when you have loads of tasks on the list. Discuss with your manager and talk about the need for a sales pipeline management system. The CRM software will help you evaluate which prospects or leads need more attention and how long it might take to close the deal.
Choose the Right Leads
As a sales representative, you need to make some hard choices. We understand that letting go of a lead is not always easy, but you need to be selective and choose the right leads. After the discussion and negotiation stage, you might have an idea of leads that do not deserve much attention. Leave the dead leads and focus on the good ones. Try to understand the reasons they stated and find out how you can convert them to high-value leads. View sales activity for each lead and focus on the ones that matter.
Keep Track of Interactions
You need to track and keep a record of each activity or communication. Try to streamline everything in one place, as it will help you understand when you need to revive a dead lead and when it may be ideal to let them go. If any prospect says they will take the services later, you will know and can approach them later to reignite their interest levels.
Have Pipeline Metrics
The sales pipeline process may differ for every prospect, and no approach fits all. You need to monitor each aspect and can manage sales pipeline easily by observing the metrics. For instance, you could measure the number of deals, the average size of deals, or the average lifetime of the deal before it is closed.
Keep the Sales Cycle Short
You cannot expect every prospect to wait around and go through the entire process. You must have a standardized process but adjust it accordingly to the prospect’s behavior. Try to keep the process short to reduce the challenges and barriers that may be involved in the process.
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Provide Prospects Right Content
Content plays a significant role and can help the buyer make the right choice. The more they know, the more likely they are to reach a decision. Provide the potential buyers with context and relevant information that may help them make the right decision.
Measure and Update Regularly
You cannot maintain the same process throughout the ages. You need to measure the effectiveness of the sales process and update it at the convenience of the prospects. Follow up consistently and find a way to convert the prospects into buyers.
A well-maintained sales pipeline can be challenging to attain. You should tailor your approach and pay attention to the prospect’s behavior to the stages they are dealing with. Streamline the sales process by investing in a sales pipeline management CRM. Incorporate these strategies to manage the sales pipeline more effectively.
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