The purpose of sales pipeline management is to provide sales teams with insight into sales opportunities. Sales pipeline management also allows teams to understand the company’s overall revenue generation and growth potential by providing a visual representation of the sales process and all buying stages.
This visualization helps sales reps determine what stage a buyer is currently in and what content and interactions brought them to this stage. It also helps sales reps determine the next actions they should take to move the buyer forward in the pipeline towards becoming a customer. Essentially, a sales pipeline illustrates how many deals a sales rep can expect to close in a given time-frame in comparison to their sales goals.
According to the Harvard Business Review, a standard sales pipeline management process generates 18% more revenue than those without a standard process. Thus, we decided to put together a list of common mistakes to avoid when executing sales pipeline management in your organization. Check out the list below to learn from other sales teams’ mistakes — and avoid learning it the hard way.
1. Not defining your unique sales pipeline stages
One of the most common mistakes sales teams make when developing a plan for sales pipeline management is not defining the stages of the pipeline. Let’s face it — sales pipelines are not one-size-fits-all. Different sales teams may have different sales pipeline stages that fit their sales cycle best.
Best practice is to align your sales pipeline stages with your buyers’ journey to ensure you’re sharing the right content at the right time. For example, buyers in the value proposition stage of your pipeline are most likely to be in the consideration stage of their buyer’s journey. In this case, the content that would suit them well would be ebooks, guides, tip sheets, and checklists. These types of content will help buyers weigh the value of your solution.
While defining your pipeline stages, it’s important for your entire team to understand:
- Your organization’s unique sales pipeline stages
- The average amount of time a buyer remains in each stage
- What your leads and prospects expect at each stage
2. Failing to develop a standardized sales pipeline
Not developing a standardized sales pipeline management process is a huge mistake that can cost your organization time and money. An unorganized use of selling tools, mismatched criteria for lead qualification, and a chaotic process for following up with prospects can lead to:
- CRM data entry errors
- Repeated messaging sent to buyers
- Inaccurate and irrelevant information shared with buyers A poor customer experience
- A lack of alignment throughout the sales team
According to SuperOffice, the best performing sales teams follow a standardized sales process. A standard process allows you to scale and win new business on a consistent and steady basis. Thus, it’s critical to create rules and standard processes for how and who will use your sales enablement tools, the criteria for lead qualification, and follow up sequences.
3. Not using the right tools to optimize sales pipeline
Without powerful selling tools, how can your sales processes be effective? In today’s digitally advanced world, not having the proper tools to optimize your sales pipeline management is a surefire way to fall behind the competition.
The right sales enablement technology will drive efficiencies in your sales pipeline by enabling you to:
- Integrate your CRM
- Effectively lead score
- Automate repetitive tasks
All of these efficiencies will help remove administrative tasks from your sales reps’ daily routine, enabling them to spend more time actively selling. Sales pipeline management can be boosted with the help of sales enablement technology. From content management, to analytics, to increased scalability and productivity, the right technology allows you to effectively monitor and manage your pipeline and the buyers within it.
For more information on determining which sales enablement technology is right for you, check out our blog, What To Look For in Your Sales Enablement Platform Investment.
4. Keeping marketing and sales misaligned
Sales pipeline management is most effective when marketing and sales teams are in alignment. However, less than half of sales reps collaborate with the marketing team to create effective sales content.
Think about this scenario. You’re meeting with a buyer who asks for a specific piece of content. Yet, you don’t have the content they’re looking for. Thus, staying in alignment with marketing is a game-changing step that keeps your sales content up-to-date, relevant, and useful in sales interactions.
5. Failing to adequately keep customer data updated
Poor data will lead to inaccurate selling initiatives and will negatively impact sales performance and opportunities. An integral part of sales pipeline management success is ensuring that your customer data is clean and up-to-date. By keeping up with your data, your sales pipeline will be more accurate and efficient.
Consider this example. Say you have a lead in your system whose job title is listed incorrectly. And for the past few weeks, you’ve been sending them irrelevant information that has nothing to do with their actual daily tasks. So naturally, this contact unsubscribes from your emails. This is the likely outcome of poor data. If your data is full of errors, your pipeline metrics and customer insights will be inaccurate. This can lead to lowered closing ratios and win rates, not to mention, a poor buyer experience.
6. Focusing on the wrong sales pipeline management metrics
Too often, sales teams focus on the wrong sales pipeline management metrics or don’t spend enough time on the premier metrics. Thus, the right sales enablement technology will provide you with the analytics and insights you need to track your top 3 metrics: sales performance, lead generation and productivity.
Additional top sales pipeline management metrics to focus on are:
- Number of new leads per month
- Number of deals
- Pipeline value
- Average sales velocity
Reminder, your sales pipeline is dynamic and these metrics can change from day to day. That’s why it’s important to consistently monitor your pipeline and take note of any major changes in your insights. These changes may be the positive result of the effectiveness of a brand new ROI guide, or the negative result of sending an irrelevant email message to the wrong persona.
Overall, companies with strong sales pipeline management have an average growth rate of 5.3%. And as we head into the new year, it’s crucial to set our teams up for selling success. If you don’t actively manage your sales pipeline, you could be missing out on gaining and closing new customers.
It’s time to transform your sales pipeline management — request a demo and realize the power of Prezentor.