Sales Pipeline Management

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Sales Pipeline Management: Do Not Resuscitate

Sales Pipeline Management: Do Not Resuscitate

Sales Pipeline Management: Your Sales Crystal Ball

Sales Pipeline Management is the key to predictable and stable sales performance.

That means sales growth, sales security, certainty and the ability for any business to produce accurate sales forecasts.

So today, whether you’re a sales leader or a sales person, let’s think about your sales pipeline.

How do I know?

Because proactive sales pipeline management is a daily task. For sales professionals their sales pipeline is their true north.

The sales pipeline feeds the sales forecast…so managing the sales pipeline is a high priority task.

The sales pipeline is the holy grail of sales crystal balls.

Your’s isn’t?

It should be.

Sales Pipeline Management Facts

The profile of a typical sales pipeline will show you it’s a mixed bag; for example.

  • You’ll have some great prospects in your sales pipeline
  • Some rubbish in there
  • You will have new leads in there
  • You’ll have some very old leads in there
  • Some entries in your sales pipeline will be ready to close, some just in the process of being opened up
  • Other records will offer you huge sales rewards and some will barely cover the sales acquisition costs
  • Some you’ll love dealing with, some you’ll want to shoot
  • Others won’t know what they want, some will know exactly what they want but can’t afford it
  • Some will be liars, some will be chancers and some will be using you to get a better price to beat your competitor with
  • Occassionally, youll find those who will enjoy your hospitality with no intention of buying from you
  • Some will have told their team to always say they’re in a meeting when you call
  • Often there will be others who will always see you to chat…picking your brains for free is part of the deal…right?
  • Some will think they know best, yet continue to fail, they want to do it the hard way first

Just a fragment of what you might find in a typical sales pipeline…the good, the bad and the ugly is just a cliche, so how about the prospect, the chancer, and the waster?

 

Key reminder: if you’re like most sales teams your sales pipeline is 90% rubble and 10% gold.

 

Sales Pipeline Management: Think Again

I’m not jesting when I tell you that your sales pipeline should be your Holy Grail. It REALLY should be your sales crystal ball.

No-more guessing. No more getting half way through the month and realising the sales target is just not going to happen this month.

No. A great, well managed, quality based sales pipeline gives you and your business all the sales intel they need to remove risk and to provide the basis for a health sales result at the end of every month.

Plus, it’s a great start for a replicable sales and business development team…but that’s an aside.

Today

Today, when you look at your sales pipeline, think about this:

Think about getting rid of all the dead beat prospects, all the prospects that are just taking up space, the ones that your eyes fly over without registering any more, the prospects that give you hell and always want something for nothing, the prospects that take forever to pay, the firms that only use you when your competitors have put their account on stop.

Say no to continually calling those prospects that don’t respond to calls, ignore emails, tell you time and time again that they’re the decision maker when you suspect they’re not.

Reposition those prospects that have said yes 10 times and never sent the order, say goodbye to the prospects who give you grief or just call you in to batter you on price with threats to go to your competitor.

Make today the day you say ENOUGH!

DO NOT RESUSCITATE

Your time is precious. You can earn whatever you want when ever you want, if only you can manage your time.

A poorly managed sales pipeline is a killer.

Undiscerning sales pipeline management will definitely diminish your ability to close business effectively and efficiently.

Poor sales pipeline management will also compromise the quality of the sales you close.

Instead of carting around 600 questionable sales prospects (for example) be very cute and very commercially attuned to where you’re spending your time (and therefore your money), and clean out all the gunk…all those prospects that you’ve been nesting in the hope they’ll somehow wake up to the value you could deliver.

Give Up On Being A Sales Stalker

Surrender the wasters to the universe…at best your competitors will pick them up and get mired in the prospect’s maybe promises.

At worst, you’ll have set yourself free. Free to concentrate your fabulous skills, efforts, talents, time and money on prospects that are worthy of that investment.

So with pride, with head held high, and a huge sense of relief and rebirth slap those DNR stickers all over the prospects that are clueless, spineless, not interested, not worthy and just stuck. Instead, march forward with the brave, the enlightened and the glorious, because that’s what you deserve!

Your sales pipeline is your key to sales glory, endless commission and a genuine joy of doing a great sales job…and your discerning sales pipeline management skills are crucial to you achieving this.

Ditch The Losers!

You owe it to yourself.

Fly higher and devote time to the prospects that have the potential, insight, budget and mindset to work with you.

Don’t compromise on the quality of your sales prospects or the quality based criteria in your sales pipeline.

Your sales pipeline management could be all that stands between you and huge sales success.

Happy Selling

For further insights on sales pipeline management as well as information on how you can boost sales and super charge your business development efforts for free – hit the link – The Advanced Business Achiever

If you want to know how to fill your sales funnel and sales pipeline with high quality sales leads – check this out Leads ++

And if you want to discretely discuss sales improvement in your business – contact me, Carol on 0779 002 1885 or carol@mortonkyle.com

You can also check out the blog for articles on improving sales performance, building replicable and scaleable sales and business development systems as well as sales pipeline management. Act fast, because this is the fastest easiest way to boost sales performance – Morton Kyle Sales Improvement

For further insights into sales pipeline management, sales funnel creation and creating accurate sales forecasts – check this out – tell me more

 

 

 

Sales Pipeline or Sales Plug Hole?

Sales Pipeline or Sales Plug Hole?

10 Ways to Get the Most From Your Sales Pipeline

Sales Pipeline Abuse!

Let start off by explaining what a sales pipeline is, it is:

Your pay check for the next 12 months and beyond.

The difference between you going on holiday or having to explain to the family why it’s another staycation.

Choices and options –  do you spend your birthday in NYC or Rotherham…

You see where I’m going with this don’t you?

Why?

Do you treat your sales pipeline so shoddily when it’s so important?

Fill it full of half-baked, second rate, tyre kickers?

So many that the good, healthy, profit generating sales prospects either get lost totally or struggle to get the attention they deserve in order to prosper.

It’s because of this one single thing…

Being busy is more important that being effective…chasing a lead is chasing a lead, whether it’s a waste of time /effort or not…

Disagree with me?

Great…it means you know better.

So, this is NOT about time management, it is about how you manage your sales pipeline.

What is a Sales Pipeline – REALLY?

Some firms will map their sales pipeline so that it matches the buying process of their buyers.

Some firms have their own loosely structured sales pipeline.

So, to generalise between those two extremes, you can think about your sales pipeline as your sales forecast in motion.

The sales pipeline can represent a series of stages in the sales and buying process.

At the top of the sales pipeline the sales prospects are relatively unqualified…the nearer those sales prospects move to the end of the sales process the more details become attached and the higher the level of qualification as the discussions turn from possible sales to discussing prices and potential delivery dates.

You can see how it works.

Some firms will attach very specific qualifying criteria to each stage in the sales pipeline. Other firms are much more fluid around what happens at each stage.

In the former, you’ll see prospects held back in the sales pipeline until the sales person can qualify certain information – it may be around budget, sign off date, understanding/mapping the buyer process, meeting the key decision maker or some other business critical insight

Sales Pipeline – Understand This!

A sales pipeline is a flowing source of information.

It’s organic.

It moves often, maybe daily, maybe several times daily, weekly, monthly, depending on your sales cycle duration, order value and sector.

Either way, the crux is, it moves.

It doesn’t bulge out of control…at every one of the sales stages – there is a chance to decide if you keep that sales prospect in the sales pipeline and progress them to the next stage or if you ditch the prospect or simply take them back to a previous stage in light of new information.

Your sales pipeline directs all your daily activity.

Not enough sales prospects in your sales pipeline due to drop at a certain stage? Better get on with topping up the sales funnel then.

To many sales leads dropping out? Maybe need to tighten up the sales qualification criteria at the start of the sales process.

Sales prospects dropping out due to one factor? Maybe need to look at how expectations are being managed earlier on in the process.

Inaccurate sales forecast? Maybe a tighter sales pipeline with more specific criteria.

Your sales pipeline and the sales forecast it creates is vital to your business…it’s the resource planning, funding, operational blue print, so accuracy, management, maintenance are all vital.

So…

To Get the Best From Your Sales Pipeline:
  1. Refer to your sales pipeline daily to direct you most urgent sales activities, your sales pipeline should direct your day, what do you need to create today? More appointments? More quotes? Are you chasing existing clients today or closing deals? What’s your activity? Your sales pipeline will show you.
  2. Don’t be afraid to push for the information you need at all stages in the sales process…a serious buyer will be happy to answer your questions as best they can….or tell you why they can’t.
  3. Pension sales prospects off if they have stagnated for unexplained reasons i.e. the prospect has stopped returning calls/responding to emails…don’t be a sales stalker.
  4. Understand the difference between being busy and being effective, some business will never be worth chasing.
  5. Allocate your resources carefully to protect yourself and your resources – beware of prospects just wanting a price, or those who are just at the ‘thinking about it stage’ and seem happy to stay there…
  6. Check the next stage in the buyers mind to ensure you’re always on the same journey, together and with the same map…otherwise you’re not partners in the process as you’ve different understanding of the situation
  7. Make sure you’ve done a very thorough fact find and be mindful that facts can change, i.e. another referrer/influencer needs to be convinced, the late entry of a competitor, a change in budget, change of delivery date…keep checking the important questions
  8. Credit check the sales prospects in your sales pipeline…you may check then at the beginning, but you should be checking them periodically though the sales process too…you don’t want to get to order sign off stage and find the prospect lacks credit worthiness.
  9. Be scrupulously honest with yourself when you’re working your sales pipeline…don’t delude yourself…if things in your sales pipeline look shaky then the sooner you take remedial action, let someone know and get additional support, the greater your chances of success…head in the sand is not a good tactic for remaining successful in sales…
  10. Neither is relying on blind luck…the great thing about an active sales forecast is it lets you work out what your very own sales recipe is. How many cold calls:meetings:quotes:orders do you need to hit your target? Once you know this you know everything you need to know to optimise your sales earnings…learn what this recipe/formula is for you ASAP and work on the leaks continually…
The truth is – your sales pipeline is either a major asset or a wasted money making opportunity…which is it?

Also, consider this, rejecting or ejecting unworthy sales prospects early on saves a mountain of time, money, resource…because dragging an unwilling and unqualified prospect through to the sales close at which point they reject your proposal is dangerous and it’s a money pit with no end in sight…actual costs plus opportunity costs all start to mount up.

Be diligent about the sales leads you progress early on. It may cost thousands to get a sales prospect to the end of the sales process, if the chances of conversion are low, ensure you qualify hard at the start of the sales process.

Look out for a new blog on sales conversion rates tomorrow.

In the meantime, here are a selection of free guides to help you create a robust sales pipeline. They’ll  help you create a profit generating sales funnel – free instant download – just hit the link.

How to Generate High Quality, High Converting Telephone Sales Appointments

Only Dead Fish Go With the Flow

10 Steps to Out Sell the Competition

20 Ways to Price Like a Pro! – Creating Hungry Sales Prospects

Just hit the links above and the reports are available for instant download

Happy Selling

Carol

carol@mortonkyle.com

0779 002 1885

p.s. For free weekly insights into what’s new in sales, business development and profit creation – sign up to the Advanced Business Achiever – it’s free.

What’s Your Sales Process Really Costing You?

What’s Your Sales Process Really Costing You?

Your Sales Process – What’s It Really Costing You?

I hate waste. I especially hate waste in the sales process because it just costs so much money and wasted time, talent and resource…and don’t get me started on the opportunity costs.

It’s criminal.

If I tell you the cost of running an inefficient sales process is huge and largely unquantifiable…would you do anything about it?

What if I told you that an efficient sales process can get a sales conversion rate from 1:25 to 1:3 in a matter of weeks?

Or that it can treble your average order value? See here for more information and 3 case studies on how to increase price

Would you do something then?

Maybe you need more proof…

How about if, simply by improving the efficiency of your sales process you could treble the output of your sales team without trebling the costs?

Convinced now?

Well, fortunately, you don’t have to take my word for it – you can check out this article form the Harvard Business Review showing that firms with a formal sales process generate higher revenues – here’s the link ‘Companies with a Formal Business Development Process Generate More Revenue’

So, read on to find out how you can get your business and sales team flying by adopting an efficient and effective sales process…

How Do You Know If You Have an Inefficient Sales Process?

Your business will suffer form the following:

  • Inaccurate sales forecasts
  • Inconsistent close rates
  • Low sales conversion rates
  • Inconsistent sales performance across your sales team
  • Lack of predictability in sales performance
  • Unqualified and aged data can clog up even the best of sales funnels

There are other indicators but these are the main ones you’ll be fighting against every day.

Wasting Sales Resources: Why Does It Happen?

Simple answer, because when people get busy they fall back on autopilot. That means they react.

This impacts on their ability to discern the good from the great and the good from the downright awful when it comes to what leads to engage with and what leads to pan.

So it only happens when sales guys are busy, right?

No, not really.

Conversely, when sales people aren’t busy enough, they’ll chase every prospect on the block, regardless of quality, value, risk or potential to convert.

So, what am I saying, that sales people can’t be trusted to know when to chase a prospect and when to drop?

No.

Well, maybe.

Sometimes.

But forget about the blame and thing about the solution.

The truth is, this is not a black and white area and sales teams are, by definition, semi-autonomous.

Sales people have their head turned by a prospect for lots of reason, and trust me I’be heard them all.

Every single one, from a sales guy fostering clients in a particular part of the UK where his new girlfriend lived (whilst ignoring other profitable clients across other UK regions), to sales guys meeting with small firms with no budget on the basis of promised work to come, and even one sales person who decided to go completely off message and recreate the offer to get more (cheap) prospects.

It happens.

But, after 20 years, I can honestly claim that sales wastage occurs because of a few key factors

  • Poor sales prospect qualification
  • Poorly defined sales prospect identification
  • Questionable sales pipeline management
  • Busy fool syndrome

The great news is…ALL OF THESE ARE SOLVABLE!

So, having identified the causes of sales wastage, let’s look at

Getting Rid of Waste in the Sales Process

Here’s the short answers to minimising waste in your sales process, and it starts with one clear message, look at what you put in your sales funnel and look at how you manage your sales pipeline.

Rubbish Leads In = Rubbish Business Out

So:

  • Have a clear and detailed view of what your perfect prospect looks like, create some real characteristics for this avatar.
  • Set some tough qualifying questions.
  • Look at the go and no-go responses for key buying criteria questions.
  • Don’t be afraid to reject prospects that don’t fit your perfect profiled client…it’s tough to start with but soon you’ll be too busy with your perfect clients to pander to the needs of ‘nearly good enough’ prospects.

To expand:

Look at the risk and the value of the prospect…and set out very early on to be rigorous in the qualification of this prospect in terms of budget, intent, time scales, alternative solutions, other providers, doing nothing, motivation to change, commitment to act, motivational forces, profile of purchase, part in a bigger picture/process.

Ensure the buying process is very clearly defined very early on. Be super aware of deviations from the agreed buying process.

Understand the buying process, the buying criteria and who is involved in the decision to go or not go.

Identify the game changers up front – what could cause the buyer to change their mind, alter their thinking, modify their course of action (and establish how that impacts on you)

Never leave a single interaction without agreeing the next action and where that action sits in the process.

Be conscious of sales timeline creep, simply because are deadlines being missed in the buying process.

Look at the nature of the interaction with the client, moreover is the sales person acting as a free consultancy resource?

Is the buyer responsive, committed, working in partnership or do you still have ‘supplier’ status where you’re chasing the deal?

Of course, a super savvy sales person will be clued up on all of this all the time…or will they.

I think some will, but I think the majority won’t.

If you want to ensure all of the sales team work this way all of the time, then check out this blog post from last week – it will change how you look at making sales and running a sales team.

Plus if you want a further insight into improving sales performance – hit this link

Summary: Minimising Wastage in the Sales Process

Sales wastage will be costing your business a huge and largely unquantifiable sum. So, it’s serious.

So, it deserves your attention.

I’ve seen sales conversion rates go form 1:25 to 1:3 in the matter of weeks using the basics outlined here.

It’s almost like doubling the output of your sales team without doubling the size (and costs) of your sales team.

Efficiency is a state of mind. Busy is also a state of mind, it matters a lot which one your sales team have, because you have to ask: what’s that costing the business?

Watch out in the next few weeks for an insight into what creates a great sales process, the individual building blocks and the points where you’re most likely to lose sales…also, if you think you’ve got the perfect sales process, how you can get to work on checking out those sales metrics and making sure you’re getting optimum results – download your free guide here – 7 Sales Metrics to Measure, Manage and Monitor

If you’ve any questions regarding your sales process get in contact

Carol

carol@mortonkyle.com

0779 002 1885

Plus – if you’d like to receive weekly sales and business development hits, tips, strategies and insights to boost sales and sales revenues – check out this – it’s free