A sales pipeline should be more than a vague idea of where the company stands in sales at any particular time. Just as a camera takes a picture to freeze a moment, you should be able to glance into your pipeline and ascertain the level of sales immediately.
If you don’t like what you see, there are particular steps to take to improve matters, and maybe even by the end of the week. Thanks to today’s mercurial speed of business, increasing sales can happen quickly by simply performing certain actions more often.
A sales pipeline is a method to keep track of the outreach marketing deals your sales team is working on and to get an idea of which deals you can expect to close.
Outreach marketing really is one of the most profitable marketing methods that an online business can employ. The only real alternative is to go with a digital PR firm, which can commonly have retainer fees anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000. Such fees can quickly cause many small businesses especially to go bankrupt.
At the same time, there are several online business owners who struggle with outreach marketing and improving their sales pipeline. Fortunately, the math on improving the profitability of a sales pipeline isn’t complicated.
Let’s say there is $200,000 worth of potential contracts sitting in your pipeline. For this example, we’ll assume the conversion rate is 5%, which leaves you closing $10,000 in new business each week.
If you want to make more money, there are two options:
The good news is that implementing either (or both) of these strategies is perfectly doable and you could begin to see positive results within a few days’ time. It’s the perfect “do this and get that” scenario. Here are the steps to implement once you finish reading this article:
Before we jump into the tips, the point needs to be made that you should look at improving the sales pipeline as a two-pronged strategy. There are the immediate actions you can take to leverage more revenue within a short time. These are highlighted below.
In addition, there are big picture concepts that will improve the overall pipeline management process, resulting in more money with less effort.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a moment to list off the top of your head any potential shortcomings with your sales process. If you’ve never done this, it can be an eye-opening exercise, as it forces you to slow down for a moment in a “can’t see the forest for the trees” moment.
To get started brainstorming, just ask yourself a few important questions such as:
Do you accept a broad variety of payment options? Roughly 84% of customers will get annoyed by having too few payment options. Something as simple as not offering text payment by phone can kill a deal.
Is the middle of your funnel too heavy? Having too many leads means you could be squandering too many real opportunities, especially if many of those leads are not engaging with you.
Is your brand as strong as it needs to be? Having a brand that’s not totally clear to consumers what it’s about or that otherwise doesn’t market to specific demographic groups effectively is a major business weakness.
All leads are not created equal, and the first step to boosting sales fast is to recognize that reality. Since it likely takes generally the same amount of time to close any deal, the obvious point here is to focus on the ones with the highest value and that are the nearest to being sales-ready.
In other words, go through the pipeline and pull out the deep pockets and ripe ones. Aim your energy here, and don’t allow yourself to become distracted by targets that suck your time and energy but either are moving too slow or aren’t ready to buy at all.
If it doesn’t contribute to the bottom line now, push it aside and go onto one that does. Review your sales pipeline dashboard right now, listing leads from high to low. Cherry pick the good ones and send your best salesperson after them.
As a corollary to the previous point, you need a clear cut point at which a dead lead is let go. Too many sales managers have difficulty accepting the fact that some leads are not worth any more effort. They’ll churn the pipeline waters with irrelevant activity and burn through the time your staff could be using to close deals with those who are actually interested.
Even if you have spent weeks or months cajoling a lead, here are indicators that you shouldn’t waste any more time:
You have better things to do than pursue leads such as these. The heavy odds are that you aren’t going to get a deal out of them. It’s not a matter of offering the right piece of bait at the perfect time. They just don’t want to buy what you’re selling.
Delete these kinds of leads from the pipeline and move on. When you cut the dead weight, you will discover there is more time to focus on higher-probability targets.
Yes, there is value in diversity and every human is different and unique. But at the end of the day, you need to stop thinking like that if you want to get more sales this week. Here’s the truth. The majority of leads will fit quite nicely within a standardized sales process.
The few that don’t are not usually worth the time it takes to hold them by the hand and make them feel special. This is a numbers game and customization of the sales process will kill the speed of sales. If you want to up your game this week, embrace standardization.
The oft-ignored reality is that the underlying reasons leads buy from you are broadly similar. When you acknowledge that by creating an actual process, you are more easily able to scale your efforts and dump more leads into the pipeline.
Your website is always at the forefront when it comes to generating leads and interacting with customers and clients. Even when you don’t link to your website in your outreach, those you reach out to may still visit your site when researching you. Each time someone interacts with your site can directly impact sales.
That’s why improving your business’s website as much as possible needs to be part of the process to improve your pipeline and close out more sales, regardless of whether you’re using your site to sell products or just to publish blog posts.
Your site should be high quality, contain useful and well-written content, and be easy to navigate. Consider installing a cloud VPS as an alternative to a website hosting service, since a VPS will offer benefits such as greater security, increased download speeds, and website monitoring. Not taking these kinds of actions can ultimately reflect very poorly on your company as a whole.
Especially if you’re in B2B sales, it’s not unheard of for the sales cycle to stretch out to several months or even a year or more. The longer it takes, the more time a lead has to change their mind or stumble across an alternative product or service. While it’s probably not a good idea to cram ten follow-ups into a single morning, look for pinch points in the cycle that allow you to shorten the time between steps.
For example, consider tightening up the interval between follow-up emails or calls. Give them more information up front rather than portioning it out over time. Skip the in-between pricing and get down to the best offer right away.
With B2C sales, not all of this will apply in detail but the concepts remain the same. B2C has grown tremendously. To take full advantage of this growth, you should send automated follow-ups for customers that abandon their shopping cart. There’s probably some tweaking you can do in this area.
The sales pipeline is as close as you get to finding a business’s heartbeat. More often than not, as goes the pipeline, so goes the company fortunes. This should be reason enough to learn to manage not only the weekly sales flow but overall long-term health as well.
The preceding tips are intended to be put into practice immediately and can increase cash flow within a short period of time. After that, make it a point to become a student of the fine art of effective sales pipeline management. Given time, there’s no reason the sales process can’t develop into a thing of beauty, awe, and profitability.