So, you’ve got a good quality B2B lead generation process in place. Your sales pipeline is growing nicely and leads are coming in, but they aren’t converting. Why is that? According to Vantage Point, whilst 72% of sales managers hold sales pipeline reviews, 63% say that their company does a bad job of managing their sales pipeline.
These figures are concerning when you consider that a well-managed sales pipeline is vital to the success of any business. It’s the key driver for revenue generation, so much so that the Harvard Business Review found there to be an 18% difference in revenue between companies with a defined sales process and those without. But a well-managed pipeline won’t build or look after itself.
A proactive company will pay attention to the data they gather from their pipeline and use this information to track sales performance, rather than simply reacting to fluctuations in their sales. In paying attention to their sales pipeline, companies can also monitor their sales team. As a closely monitored pipeline will reveal any gaps in team performance, these gaps can be closed quickly, encouraging sales reps to take control of their sales output.
The difference that a healthy sales pipeline can make:
Better sales results
Predict revenue growth and provide an element of forecasting future sales and trends
So, how can you effectively manage your sales pipeline?
Nazma Qurban, Cognism’s Chief Revenue Officer, suggests the following:
1 - Follow up
Today, buyers have more choice than ever and with that comes an increasingly competitive market for sales and marketing professionals.
It is therefore key that your sales team is following up on leads with a phone call or email to guide them through the pipeline. However, according to Super Office, less than 3% of companies attempt to follow up with their customers.
2 - Implement weekly reviews
In order to make sure that your team are following up on leads and managing their sales pipelines, it is good procedure to implement weekly reviews. This could include reminders to email or call a customer that hasn’t recently been contacted for a specified amount of time, e.g. 2 weeks.
3 - Document your process
To ensure uniformity and consistency within your team, it is vital that you document every stage of your sales process, from the initial call to acquisition.
Throughout your sales pipeline you should ensure that your campaigns are supported by a well-maintained and updated CRM – a sales team will only be as good as the data they are working with.
4 - Monitor the length of your sales cycle
After analysing the pipelines of hundreds of companies, Implisit found that the average length from lead to close is 102 days, however, this varies from industry to industry.
At Cognism, the average length of a sales cycle is 21 days, but it can range from 24 hours to 6 months, depending on the product and target audience. With such a range, it is vital to understand and monitor each lead within the sales pipeline to ensure that they are being handled in the best and most appropriate way.
5 - Avoid tricky leads
Although you want your sales pipeline to be full and healthy, you should only convert leads that you feel you can genuinely help.
Businesses should make use of a sales manager and a qualifying process to ensure that leads are qualified from the very beginning of the sales pipeline to the very end. In implementing a qualifying process, you will ensure that your pipeline is full of B2B prospects who are genuinely interested and those you can really help.
Where to start?
Answered simply, at the beginning! Operating a well maintained and structured sales pipeline can make a measurable difference to your business, so don’t delay, get those opportunities working for you immediately!