It is a fundamental problem for many small business owners, particularly in the B2B sector: How to effectively create, organize, track, and manage a sales pipeline. Developing a sales pipeline takes time and money, but it complements a sales forecast. A sales pipeline gives you and your sales managers the power to track prospects at every stage of the sales cycle, from initial inquiry to purchase.
Being able to take control of your leads can do wonders for your bottom line. You and your sales team can focus on the best leads that will result in closed deals. Therefore, it is time to modernize your sales process if your business relies on outdated sales management tactics, manual sales data entry, and cumbersome sales tracking spreadsheets. This Balboa Capital blog post explains how to keep your sales pipeline flowing.
Look at your current sales process.
Before you can develop a sales pipeline, you need to evaluate your current sales process. Doing so can help you identify areas that need improvement. This step can also show you how effective, or perhaps ineffective, your sales funnel is. To get started, revisit your target audience. For example, you might have primary, secondary, or even tertiary audiences, each of which has decision-makers.
Next, please make a list of how you and your sales team are currently contacting prospects, and write down the different lead stages they fall into, such as cold lead, hot lead, new customer, etc. Lastly, make a list of how you contact prospects, such as cold calling, email marketing, and social media marketing. All of this information directly correlates with your small business’s sales results, but you could be losing leads if you do not have a sales pipeline in place.
Evaluate your recent sales results.
After completing the steps listed above, look at your sales results and revenue for the past 90 days and six months. If you are not hitting your sales targets, look for possible reasons why. For example, is your sales team using the right pitch? Are they well versed in your products and services? Do they use the best upselling tactics? Do they have an easy way to track leads through every stage of the buying cycle? These are some of the many reasons why businesses like yours are losing sales to competitors.
Build your sales pipeline.
Once you finish evaluating your current sales process and recent sales results, you will have the framework in place to start building a sales pipeline. Begin by identifying how many leads move to the next stage of your sales cycle and how many deals you need to meet (or surpass) your revenue goals.
Then, determine the actions that will occur at each sales funnel step, such as phone calls, follow-up emails, webinars, in-person product demonstrations, proposals, etc. Your in-house marketing team or your marketing agency should be involved in this crucial step. They can add strategic input and develop communications materials and a sales cadence for your sales team.
Choose a sales management system.
Now for the good stuff. Consider investing in sales management software if you want to take your sales process and tracking to the next level and increase your sales teams’ productivity. There are numerous cloud-based systems to choose from, and they can be customized to meet your business’s individual needs.
A sales management system lets you and your sales team track every sales process step in real-time, even at offsite locations. An affordable price is obviously at the top of your list when looking at your options. An easy-to-use interface, robust customization features, detailed reporting features, and scalability should also be considered. Once you make your purchase, schedule a meeting with your sales team members for a training session.
Update your sales pipeline as needed.
Your investment in a new sales pipeline system means nothing if you and your sales team members are not using it. So, add new leads as soon as you get them and move them from one stage to the next. Also, make sure to include contact information and detailed notes, so your leads are more than just names.
If you do not stay on top of these simple tasks, your sales pipeline will be clogged up, deals will get lost, and everything will end up being incomplete and disorganized. The results of a recent SBO survey reveal the positive impact that sales pipeline software is making. 50% of small business owners who invested in sales pipeline software said it helped generate more leads, 36% said it helped improve customer service, and 26% said it streamlined the sales process.