Taking the occasional peek at the sales pipeline is not effective pipeline management.
Managing and reviewing the sales pipeline helps salespeople prioritize what activities to complete each month, it also gives them an accurate indication of how healthy their sales pipeline truly is.
Here are a few steps for you to consider and that you can pass on to your sales force so that they can efficiently manage their pipeline:
- Hold detailed pipeline reviews at the start of every month.
- Sit down with someone in your organization who is capable of looking objectively at your work and someone who can challenge the assumptions that you are making. If you are the sales VP or the business owner, sit down with each individual sales rep to make sure that they are clear on which accounts will close and which won’t.
- Ask tough questions. Push until you receive an objective answer on everything you need to get done in a month. Figure out how much is really expected to close, and how you are going to get it closed.
- Get the facts. Smoke out all false assumptions and ask questions such as:
- What proof do you have that this deal will close this month?
- When did you last speak directly to the client?
- What is stopping the client from buying right now?
- What are your next steps?
- What other contacts can you make inside the account?
- When will you complete those next steps?
- Be on the lookout for answers that reveal thinking based on feelings and assumptions rather than facts. Don’t let your sales reps get away with making a decision without the proper evidence to support it.
- The last step is to dig a little deeper. Once you have challenged the basic assumptions, dig deeper and ask probing questions to yourself or to your sales team about the facts supporting an account. This is the time for a more rigorous examination, especially when you see any of the following associated with deals that are supposed to close in a month.
- If you or your rep describe the account as still being at the qualifying stage or lower.
- Anything less than 70% probability to close at the start of the month probably isn’t going to close that month.
- Lack of clear financial information linked to the sale.
- Last contact date is greater than two weeks in the past. After all, you can’t close business if you are not talking to your customers.
When you and/or members of your sales team have completed this review, there will undoubtedly be a smaller pipeline, but don’t dismay. This “revised” version of the pipeline will be real and based on facts rather than assumptions. It may not be pretty, but pipeline reviews and management are absolutely essential to sales success. <– Click To Tweet
It’s easy to fill a pipeline with weak prospects who may or may not buy. Unfortunately, doing so gives people a false sense of security.
Get the facts, and move forward with confidence or make necessary adjustments. It’s just that simple.
Looking for more strategies to help your team fill their pipeline with real and healthy prospects? Get your copy of Nonstop Sales Boom!