As a sales pro, your sales pipeline is one of your most precious resources.
It holds all of the information about the opportunities your sales team is currently pursuing, and is the key to unlocking valuable insights about your sales process.
However, like anything, it can be your downfall if not managed correctly.
But don’t worry.
We’re here to walk you through everything you need to know about successfully managing your sales pipeline.
- What is sales pipeline management?
- Why is sales pipeline management important?
- Sales pipeline management process
- Sales pipeline management best practices
- Track and analyze metrics
- Standardize your sales process
- Focus on high-value and high-intent opportunities
- Consistently audit your pipeline
- Tips to manage your sales pipeline
- Optimizing your sales pipeline management
What is sales pipeline management?
Before we jump right in, let’s start by going over the basics.
When we talk about a sales pipeline, we are referring to the visual representation of your prospects and where they are in the sales process.
So, sales pipeline management is the organization, tracking, and analysis of all of your opportunities so your pipeline runs seamlessly and efficiently.
The main benefit of a well-managed pipeline is that you’ll have clear insight into how your sales process is performing and where there’s room for improvements.
Why is sales pipeline management important?
At the end of the day, salespeople care about one thing: meeting their quota.
But how are you supposed to know if you’re on track to do this?
Well, that’s where effective sales pipeline management comes into play.
Essentially, pipeline management allows you and your team to understand exactly what stage each of your potential deals is in and if there are enough deals to meet your quota.
When done right, it will help you make sure your sales process is functioning properly and that your sales forecasts are accurate.
On top of this, by managing your pipeline, you’ll be able to monitor all of the activities that are happening at each stage of the funnel in an effective way. These activities can be anything from putting sales proposals together to cold calling or emailing leads.
Sales pipeline management process
You agree that sales pipeline management is important.
(That’s what we wanted to hear!)
Now, let’s actually take a look at what the process of managing your pipeline looks like.
Keep in mind that the steps in your process will depend on your specific business and the way you generate leads and close deals.
But no matter the specific steps you include, it’s critical that you streamline every stage of the pipeline management process. This means you’ll need to find ways to optimize tasks like setting rep quotas, ensuring the team has sufficient quality leads, and defining revenue goals to make sure your team can consistently achieve its goals.
Without further ado, here are some of the steps that are typically involved in the sales pipeline management process:
1. Take stock of your leads
First and foremost, you’re going to want to take a look at the existing leads in your pipeline.
If there are less than expected, you’ll need to evaluate your lead generation process.
In addition to cold calling and emailing, lead capture forms, social media, and an effective content marketing strategy can help you up your prospecting game.
2. Lead qualification
After you’ve taken a look at the opportunities in your pipeline, you’ll need to prioritize them.
To successfully qualify your leads, you’ll need to consider several factors like the prospect’s budget, needs, and their role and authority within the company. It’s also essential to understand your buyer’s level of intent. Otherwise, you could be wasting your time and leads that most likely will never convert.
Then, it’s all about doing good old fashioned research about your prospect, gathering data, using lead scoring, and some other strategies like BANT, CHAMP, ANUM, and FAINT.
3. Lead nurturing
You’ve qualified the leads in your pipeline, but now you’ll need to nurture them.
This is essential because buyers need time to educate themselves before they’ll take the plunge and buy your product.
To do this, you’ll want to offer them information and content that will be interesting and helpful to them. And just remember that this needs to be done at every stage of the sales funnel.
4. Update and maintain your pipeline
Your pipeline is constantly evolving, so you need to do your best to keep it up-to-date.
This will help you make sure your pipeline isn’t cluttered with opportunities that aren’t relevant.
One way to do this is by asking yourself questions like are there any stagnant leads in the pipeline, any low priority leads that can be removed, or are there any communications that need to be updated. It’s also important to check that all the contact information for your prospects is updated.
This will make it less overwhelming and help your team better understand where to focus their limited time and resources.
Sales pipeline management best practices
Even though you’ve started managing your sales pipeline, the work isn’t over yet.
To get the most out of your pipeline management, you’ll need to follow the best practices to keep it as polished as possible and make the most impact.
1. Track and analyze metrics
Metrics are your best friend.
(Other than your interactive demo platform, of course.)
Tracking metrics across your sales pipeline can help you gain valuable insights into what is and isn’t working in your sales process. Some helpful metrics to track are the number of deals in your pipeline, the average size of the deals in your pipeline, your close won ration, and sales velocity.
Consistently tracking your results will give you an understanding of the health of both your pipeline and company.
2. Standardize your sales process
No two people are the same.
But chances are, your target audience will have some things in common when it comes to their needs and their pain points.
So, once you’ve identified what those similarities are, it’s a good idea to make adjustments to standardize your sales process to better meet your customers’ needs.
This’ll help you make sure you’re targeting the opportunities in your pipeline in a consistent way.
3. Focus on high-value and high-intent opportunities
If only you and your team had all the time in the world. A walnut can dream right?
But the reality is that your sales team has limited time and resources.
And that means that you need to take a look at the opportunities in your pipeline and prioritize them. Typically, we recommend prioritizing deals based on deal value and the level of intent.
Because at the end of the day, it’s about bringing in the most revenue for your company. And of course, making sure you’re not wasting your time pursuing prospects that are never going to sign on the dotted line.
4. Consistently audit your pipeline
To keep your pipeline clean and up-to-date, you constantly need to conduct audits.
This will help you make sure that all the information is as accurate as possible and that you aren’t focusing on less relevant leads.
Otherwise, if you let your pipeline get messy, it could lead to inefficiencies.
On top of this, you need to consistently look out for potential red flags in your pipeline so you can constantly improve it.
Tips to manage your sales pipeline
Now, let’s go over some super effective tips to help you manage your sales pipeline using a demo platform (like Walnut).
- Show the product first
Include a demo in the first email for buyers so they experience your product right away to boost your pipeline generation.
- Offer many product touchpoints
Let leads in your pipeline experience the product throughout the entire funnel.
- Personalize, personalize, personalize
Tailor your demo so every buyer in your pipeline understands how your product will solve their pains.
- Metrics are your BFF
Analyze your demo metrics to find the parts that need improvement to optimize your pipeline.
Optimizing your sales pipeline management
Never underestimate the importance of a well-managed sales pipeline.
Consistently keeping tabs on your pipeline can help you gauge the health of your sales process and zero in on areas that need some TLC. And vice versa, a poorly managed pipeline can put you at risk of losing customers.
If you use an interactive product demo platform (like Walnut), you’ll have access to in-depth analytics to help you monitor how prospects in your pipeline are engaging with your demos. And this can go a long way in helping you manage your pipeline and make improvements to your overall sales process.
By mapping your pipeline management and breaking it down step-by-step, you can improve organization and pinpoint areas of your sales process to optimize and shorten.
And these are exactly the sort of things that can drive revenue growth.
Still not using Walnut? What are you waiting for? Click the “Get Started” button to start optimizing your sales pipeline management.