Maintaining a sales pipeline you’ve developed is vital to ensure it keeps working for you. Otherwise, you can be at risk of losing sight of your golden nuggets and letting prospects slip through the cracks.
To avoid these, we’ve come up with a few steps to manage your sales to manage your sales pipeline effectively.
Your sales pipeline needs a Simple, Specified Cycle
The number one tip is not to overload yourself. Ask yourself what you do already to get a sale. The sales pipeline comes from this foundation, so keep it as simple as that.
You may be tempted by services and tools being advertised everywhere you look, promising newfangled ways to display and boost your sales process. But, as the saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
If it’s not working, and your sales are falling through, then it’s likely that your pipeline or software is too complicated. A huge 72% of existing CRM users said they would give up the bells and whistles of their current software just to get a system that’s easier to use.
If that isn’t the case, then don’t be disheartened. Just keep going: incremental changes can have a huge impact.
This is where we repeat our favourite phrase for sales pipelines: make it work for you.
It’s guaranteed that what works for one businessperson won’t work for someone else. Individuals are exactly that—individuals, and your approaches will differ. There’s no right answer except for the one that gets you what you need.
The sales process can require a little trial and error to nail it down, but if the result is smoothing out the process and maximising your sales, then it is worth it.
But don’t try everything at once—you’ll confuse yourself as you won’t know what helps and what is a hindrance. The idea is to find that balance between simple and specific—tailoring the experience without putting too much on you and/or your team.
Finally, it helps to remember the stages of the customer buying cycle. If you’re starting from scratch, you can use it as a basic guide for the directions your sales pipeline should go in.
Make sure you’re taking these 5 stages into account:
- How are you finding them?
- How are they finding you?
- How are you managing your leads?
- How do you need to categorise them?
- How do you communicate with your prospects?
- Is it working? How do you know?
- How easy is it for you to focus on your best prospects?
- This is where you make the sale. What information do you need for your customer?
- How easy is it for you to access it?
- Are your customers likely to buy from you again?
- How do you keep their loyalty?
If you want to find out more about the 5 stages, you can discover our in-depth article about it here.
Take a look at our example sales pipeline
Have a look at the pipeline below and consider why this works. What is it about the structure that will help this business? Do they correlate with the questions from the Simple, Specified Cycle?
In this sales pipeline, the sales process is clearly broken down from start to finish.
The start of the pipeline—the attempts to contact—have factored in no responses instead of assuming success. This gives the business an opportunity to keep their uninterested contacts away from their potential leads.
Dividing leads into cool, warm or hot prospects will help this business to prioritise their efforts on the right people—knowing who to pursue and who might need a little more nurturing.
The next sections have taken into account what correspondence will be happening, acknowledging that the preliminary conversations with a business can indicate different stages in the customer’s evaluation of a potential sale.
Again, tailoring the next sections to suit your needs means categorising the vital steps as you get closer to the purchase. This business won’t confuse will give the customer exactly the right information they need as they finalise the sale.
This business has customised their sales pipeline to include the prospects they aim to contact in the future. As they’ll be segmented away from prospects in the other sections, this business doesn’t run the risk of contacting a prospect before they’re ready.
Have a go yourself!
Practice makes perfect—so if you need to fine-tune your sales pipeline, or have to start from scratch, we've provided a PDF for you to fill in as you need.
When making your sales pipeline from the start, it needs to reflect how you approach your sales process already.
Picture it, and note that thought process down. What are the journeys your customers can go on? How do you push them down certain avenues? Where can your time, effort and resources go? That visualisation will form the backbone of your sales pipeline.
If you’ve found this helpful, you might want to check out our free training on building a qualified sales pipeline, in 12 bitesize videos!