What is sales pipeline management?
First, let's define a sales pipeline: a sales pipeline is a visual framework that illustrates the amount of business your company tries to win over a period of time. You can picture your sales pipeline as a funnel with multiple stages. A typical sales funnel begins with an 'Incoming' stage where all business leads are gathered. Any lead that is a good fit for your business is then moved to a 'Qualified' stage for follow-up. After successful follow-up, a lead moves to a 'Quote' stage for price quoting and then to a 'Closure' stage for final negotiations. Last but not least, a deal that's won moves to a 'Won' stage, while one that's lost moves to a 'Lost' stage. Sales pipeline management is the technique of using a sales pipeline to manage your business's sales. This is most often done with easy-to-use CRM software built especially for this purpose.
What are the benefits of sales pipeline management?
Visualize your sales funnel: You will be able to visualize your entire sales funnel, including how many leads you have, which stage each one is in, and what you need to do for each to win the deal. Knowing exactly which stage of the funnel each lead is in will allow you to forecast your sales numbers in the short-term.
Get critical insights with powerful reports: You'll have access to powerful sales reports that will improve your business and let you win more deals. For example, you can see which stage you're losing most of your deals in by viewing a report called a funnel report. If the report shows that you're losing many deals in the Quote stage, it might mean that you're not preparing your quotes fast enough or that your quotes are not effective.
Organize all lead information in one place: Being organized lets you make more effective follow-ups and helps you win more deals. Using a simple sales pipeline management app to organize your pipeline will allow you to put all important lead information (like your prospect's contact information, conversation notes, and deal details) in one easy-to-access place. You can even store all your email conversations back and forth with a prospect under each deal using an email dropbox feature. This makes follow-ups much more effective because it allows you to read up on past conversations with a prospect and get up to speed on what's previously been discussed with her.
Effectively manage your sales team: If your business has multiple sales people, using a sales pipeline management process will help you manage leads, tasks, and performance for each rep and for the whole team all under one roof.
Win more deals: Sales pipeline management allows you to improve the chances of closing deals by setting rules around customer engagement at each stage. For example, if you find it effective to follow up with your customers one week after you send them a quote, you can quickly look at your closure stage and know which customers you have to call and follow up with. With a simple sales CRM, you can even set tasks and reminders so that you'll be sure not to forget to do the follow-ups.
How to put sales pipeline management to work for your business
Zendesk Sell is an easy-to-use app that organizes your leads into a sales pipeline and gives you useful insights into your sales process. It is absolutely free and you can start using it within minutes.