4 steps to sales pipeline management success

Your sales pipeline is a coordinated, instantly visible method of tracking and managing present and potential clients, through every stage of your sales process, usually via your CRM software. In a nutshell, it is a live sales process stream, mapping and displaying the health of your sales processes at any point in time.

In order to have a functioning sales pipeline, it is advised you have no less than three stages, and no more than six. Less than three stages won’t allow you to collect enough data to analyze your sales process effectively. More than six stages and your pipeline becomes too complicated to manage.

Your pipeline needs to be managed at every stage in order to ensure it remains fluid. It also requires constant analysis to ensure that the design of the pipeline itself is not leading to blockages. Now, let’s look at four easy ways you can manage your sales pipeline more effectively.

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1. Define clear pipeline stages

In order to ensure smooth movement through your sales pipeline, you need to determine the pipeline’s exact design. In conjunction with your CRM, you need to clearly identify and create the number of stages which make up the pipeline, this should include; the optimum number of calls, and meetings to be included, as well as the number of follow-up steps to be taken at each stage. These boundaries define your pipeline’s structure.

2. Qualify and score your leads

Leads that have already been sourced and imported into your sales CRM need to be scored and qualified. Scoring your leads allows you to determine the percentage likelihood of closing a deal from any particular stage of the pipeline. This scoring lets you establish the value of the lead and whether that value warrants its qualification to be moved through the sales pipeline. A negative score may also determine that a lead is not worth qualifying, and may be discarded. This can save time chasing down leads which are going nowhere.

3. Set up reminders

Over-contacting your leads can be both time-consuming for your sales team, and annoying for your client. Good sales pipeline management requires that a defined number of contacts, and re-contacts should be set, and adhered to. Once the number of contacts has been met the lead can be dumped, or reassigned for later recycling.

4. Analyze your data

A CRM should offer you the ability to analyze all aspects of your sales pipeline. With detailed insights and data, you can create easily understandable, and actionable reports on various topics; individual or team sales performance over a set period; profitability of sales; targets met and missed; number of deals won; top loss reasons; blockages caused; time leads spend at each stage, plus much more. It can also offer you valuable future sales projections based on past history and information gathered.

Creating a sales pipeline for the future

A well-designed sales pipeline smooths the path of your whole sales process. A well-designed sales pipeline, in conjunction with a smart and powerful CRM, allows you to gather all the necessary data, not only for day-to-day stage management but also for sales and performance analysis through every sector. In addition, it gives you the ability to create invaluable reports and graphs, which come together to evaluate past performance, pinpoint bottlenecks or underperforming areas, and to allow accurate forecasting for the future.

 

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Brendan Harding

About the author…

Brendan is Irish-born content creative living and working in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. Brendan spent over 12 years roaming the globe, visiting over 80 countries as a travel and features journalist, writing for both traditional and online publications. As lead content writer with Teamgate, his role is to discover new angles for telling interesting, informative, and educational stories from the world of business.

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Brendan Harding

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