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How to manage an effective sales pipeline

April 26, 2019

This is a guest blog written by Movers Development, the marketing, SEO and web development company.

In order to manage your B2B sales in the right way, you need to know everything about the sales pipeline. The sales process is visually represented as a pipeline and includes several stages.

Even though this term has been in use for a very long time, many companies still haven’t figured out how to manage the pipeline effectively. This article will guide you through the process step by step.

The basics - what is a sales pipeline?

Before you start dealing with the B2B sales process, let’s check the basic information.  A sales pipeline is a visual representation of the sales process. It includes several stages:

  1. Prospecting – the process of researching and identifying your target buyers.
  2. Qualification – checking if a prospect is truly a prospective buyer. This information depends on the prospect’s location, industry, the problems they have, and more. At this stage, it’s important to decide if a prospect is worth your time.
  3. Consideration – at this stage, the sales team demonstrates the product and builds the business case.
  4. Decision – the buyer is aware that your product can solve their problem. Even though this may sound like the last step, there are some other things your salespeople need to do to avoid late deal slippage.
  5. Close – closing the deal is the final step in the process. This step only includes signed deals involving key decision makers.

Why is a sales pipeline strategy important?

First of all, a pipeline sales strategy is very beneficial to the effective management of your sales and revenue generation. There are also some other advantages of using a sales pipeline:

  • It makes the sales process clear and easy to manage/understand.
  • It makes managing your sales less time-consuming.
  • It makes revenue forecasting easier. With the information that a sales pipeline provides, it becomes easier to make revenue predictions in advance.

How to manage an effective sales pipeline?

If your pipeline needs a refreshment, we can offer you different methods of managing an effective sales pipeline. With these techniques, you can improve your sales pipeline system and generate more revenue in the future.

1 - Choose the best leads

Many chances and opportunities will be funnelled into your pipeline. Don’t get lazy and make sure you answer each request from your B2B prospects. You can manage your time better if you compare similar deals and see which ones are more valuable to your business.

2 - Keep your pipeline clean

As we mentioned, you get a lot of opportunities, so it’s natural your pipeline has a lot of deals. Too many deals in your sales pipeline can prevent you from finding those that really matter. To manage an effective sales pipeline, focus on selecting valuable deals and prospects that need your product/solution. Be sure to remove any prospects that don’t look promising in terms of closing a deal. Letting the dead leads go is as important as focusing on those that have high value.

How to know if you are dealing with a dead lead?

Figuring out that you are dealing with a dead lead can be confusing. However, you need to do it fast and let those leads go. To be sure you are dealing with a dead lead, you should be able to recognize these signs:

  • The prospect is not a target customer and is not interested in your product/industry.
  • You’ve contacted the prospect several times, made several cold calls, and still haven’t got an answer.
  • They don’t have the budget to buy your product or service.
  • It takes them a long time to decide what they want.

It takes experience to do this, but it’s important. Learn how to drop dead leads so you can move on to the next sales opportunity.

3 - Always improve your pipeline

When things go right, it’s easy to forget to always keep trying. Certain sales techniques are effective for a certain period of time, after which they need an update or replacement.

To do this, consider problems or blockages in your sales pipeline, and see why they are happening. If the same issues happen at the same place frequently – it’s time to revise your sales techniques and update your pipeline. You can organise monthly meetings to review the stats and see which parts of the pipeline need an upgrade.

4 - Keep the sales cycle short

If your sales processes are too long, it’s likely that your prospects will change their mind or go to a competitor. The sales cycle should be as short and effective as possible.

Reduce the sales time by having a standardised sales process for all team members to follow. Creating a Sales Playbook is a great idea to keep your sales team aligned and working towards the same goals.

5 - Retain your customers

The easiest way to manage a more effective pipeline is to retain your customers. Additional sales and referrals are often the most effective ways to grow your sales.

So, after you close a deal, don’t turn your back on the customer and never call them again. Make sure they are satisfied with your product and that they are getting value from it. Show them that you care. Don’t take satisfied customers for granted, because they can be an amazing source of references and new clients!

As with any other process valuable for your business, sales pipeline strategies need constant revision and updates. Once you notice there is something wrong with your sales – react immediately. Don’t let your pipeline fill with unnecessary prospects and information. Keep it fresh and you’ll see the results in no time!

Contact us today

High-quality, real-time people, company and event data can make all the difference to your B2B lead generation process. Want to know how? Contact Cognism today and register for your free, 15-minute demo.

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