The sales pipeline is the backbone for your whole sales process. Its job is to bring prospects to your team so they can convert them to customers. And naturally, the more customers you have, the better your revenue will be. That’s where you want to find yourself. However, getting there is a bit tricky. You’ll need all the help you can get, and it comes in the form of the best practices for managing your sales pipeline.
We know that there’s not enough talk about this part of the sales. In fact, many people confuse the sales pipeline with the sales funnel. Both of these play an important role, but they’re not the same thing. So, to start, let’s look at what the sales pipeline is and how it is different from the funnel.
What is a sales pipeline?
To put it as simple as possible, it’s a snapshot of where prospects are in your sales funnel. As they transition to customers, they go through different stages. And the sales pipeline outlines and explains what actions you should take on each of them. So, using it, you can assume how many deals will a sales rep close at which time.
If you ever learned about how to convert more customers, you know that there are seven stages prospects need to go through. These are:
- Lead generation
- Lead nurturing
- Marketing qualified lead
- Sales accepted lead
- Sales qualified lead
- Closed deal
- Post sale
What is the difference between sales pipeline and sales funnel?
As you can see, these two are well connected. However, they’re different terms.
What you need to understand is that the sales funnel shows the quantity and conversion rate of your prospects through the pipeline stages. So, it’s a visual representation of how many open opportunities your team has.
On the other hand, the sales pipeline is all about the actions your reps need to take. Here, we’re talking about sales prospecting, lead generation, sales calls, outbound emails, and meetings. In essence, all these processes create the pipeline.
Live and breathe sales metrics
If you want to master the sales pipeline, you need to know your numbers. Take time and learn about every component of the funnel. If you calculate all the averages, it’ll be easy to predict your revenue. And when you can do that, you can also improve your numbers.
Here are some of the metrics you need to have:
- New leads per month by source
- The conversion rate for leads to opportunities
- The conversion rate for opportunities to closed deals
- Average deal size
- The average number of sales cycles
- Total number of open opportunities
We don’t have to explain why you want all of this data to be accurate. However, that’s a hard thing to achieve sometimes. So, if you’re having trouble collecting it, think about investing in a CRM system. It’s a modern software pipeline management system. And the best thing about it is that it does almost everything on its own. You only need to understand what it displays to you, and you’ll be fine.
Do regular reviews
With time, your company will grow. But, to be able to scale up your lead generation system, you need to define it first. This means that you’ll have to think about lots of unrelated factors and metrics for some time. It’s not a job that you can do easily if you want it done properly. So, the next of our practices for managing your sales pipeline is conducting regular pipeline reviews.
Every good sales manager conducts forecast meetings. And these are great. However, doing pipeline reviews on top of that will bring you plenty of benefits. All of a sudden, the opportunities that should close by the end of the week won’t be the only thing you’re tracking. In pipeline reviews, there are a few things you’re adding to the mix.
- You’ll take a look at the quality new opportunities
- Managers will work on opportunities from the start, so they’ll have a bigger influence
- Everyone will have a more comprehensive view of the pipeline
When you get used to it, you’ll manage the prospects more successfully, and you’ll do it with ease. This is the perfect time to incorporate something like the ConvertMore callback widget into your website. The number of opportunities will arise, and so will the number of sales. It’s a win-win, really.
Keep everything clean
If your sales reps can increase early conversion rates for as little as 10%, you can expect a 50% increase in final sales. You’ll agree that that’s a lot. However, you need to maintain your sales pipeline and funnel if you want to enjoy these results. So, use pipeline reviews to spot and eliminate weak sales opportunities. This is a big step, so be sure not to skip it.
The thing is that salespeople are optimistic by the definition of their job. Hence, they won’t give up after one unsuccessful sale. You don’t want them to lose their time on opportunities that won’t pay off. So, it’s best to eliminate them as soon as you notice them.
Give out more content
In sales, you want people to trust you. Only this way, they’ll buy from you, and they’ll be happy about it. You want them to know that you’re on their side. So, it may be time to go beyond the usual phone calls and emails.
- Before you make conversation with your prospects, you communicate with them through your blogs, articles, and infographics. If you ever looked into how to lower website bounce rate, you know that these types of content are important for any business. Your prospects will be interested in them, so you get a chance to show them how they can benefit from working with you. However, try to do it in a fun and entertaining way.
- During the middle stages, you can nurture leads with ebooks, case studies, and video tutorials. When they see how everything works on an example, they’ll be much more likely to become paying customers.
- And finally, there’s the action stage. Here, your prospects are already your customers. But that doesn’t mean that you can forget about practices for managing your sales pipeline here. You still need to make some evaluations and follow up. This way, you’re converting a one-time customer into a long-lasting one.
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