Finding it tricky to manage your pipeline? In this episode of Inside Sales, I shared some quick tips that can surely boost your sales management. Keep reading to find out more.
In this article:
- How to Manage Your Pipeline with Ease
- The Hockey Stick Effect
- Determining Your Sweet Spot
- Compensating Your Sales Force
- Creating a Mutual Success Plan
- Having a Predictive Pipeline Through CRM
Pipeline Management Best Practices | Managing Your Pipeline With Sales Forecasting
How to Manage Your Pipeline with Ease
In this episode, I wanted to share a comprehensive webinar on how to manage your pipeline and sales process. To begin our discussion, let’s jump into how to optimize your sales forecast strategy.
One of the best sales forecasting principles I’ve learned over the years is that businesses approach sales management differently. Indeed, every team’s sales strategy is subjective.
And I want to know, are there things we can put into play to make our sales process better?
There is a really interesting study we did in Inside Sales that showed us why it’s so important to identify our sales forecasts and pipeline management process. I want to go through the process of the why, what, and the how.
The Hockey Stick Effect
Some of you may have seen this phenomenon in your business. The “Hockey Stick Effect” may represent a big problem in your lead generation.
This happens when you’re on a monthly or quarterly cadence and your sales cycle starts fairly slow. The next thing you know, as you get towards that end of the corridor, that’s when the deals start to roll in.
Before you know it, you begin to cram as you manage your pipeline and sales funnel.
The questions we have to include:
- What is this phenomenon doing for your business?
- What is it actually costing your sales metrics?
Here in Inside Sales, we looked at nearly 10 billion sales opportunities and published it in a study. And I want to take you through a couple of the findings.
The study breaks to us nicely why you need to manage your pipeline process and create sales forecasts as effectively as possible.
Deal size actually changes significantly during weekdays, as compared to weekends. So, if you’re closing deals on the weekend, on average, your deal size drops quite a bit more than it does if you’re closing on a weekday.
All in all, when we track this data at the end of the month or quarter, we saw companies lose out on a 27% potential increase in revenue because of their faulty sales forecast process.
Determining Your Sweet Spot
So let’s go into some of the sales pipeline strategies that companies are actually doing. To manage your pipeline efficiently, the first strategy is this idea of determining your sweet spot.
The question is, how can you determine your business’ sweet spot?
When we looked at the data across these 10 million sales opportunities, we found that companies have an optimal time to close deals.
- We found out that for smaller companies, the last day of the month is treacherous for them.
- This means that the last day of the month is their damaging spot in their sales process.
- But, as businesses grow a little bigger, the last few days of the month are not as that bad.
One important concept here is that you should try to figure out your own data to maximize opportunity. You have to understand when you should be coaching your sales managers to try to maximize their ability to close deals.
Once you’ve figured that out, ask yourself this question: how do you start to change behavior around it?
Here’s an example. One of the things we’ve done here at Inside Sales is we’ve successfully figured out our optimal sales process cycle.
- Surprisingly, our sales pipeline happens to finish around every third week in our smaller business.
- So, to create better sales management, we put a spiff together and tried to inspire our salesforce to find a way to be more driven with their tasks and goals. This helped them avoid wasting time during lead qualification.
- As a result, the sales managers were able to set up their deal and close without having to drop all their other goals.
Compensating Your Sales Force
How you think about compensating your people in margin might be something you want to think about.
- Your salesforce may be compensated through having a percentage sales commission based on revenue.
- You can also choose to have other incentives or salary programs for them. When an organization has an annual incentive sales program, they usually have a pretty robust bonus program linked to its overall revenue.
This would help motivate your sales managers to bring more value to the company. They can feel more valued.
As a result, they can avoid cramming their sales funnel during the last few days of the month and their hard work will be more consistent. Hence, it helps you manage your pipeline and lead generation process in a way that doesn’t lead to sudden spikes in sales.
Creating a Mutual Success Plan
One way to manage your pipeline effectively is to lead your customers to close deals towards your sweet spot.
It may be hard to do this knowing your customers may expect a greater discount if they close on the last day of the corridor. Ideally, you should know your sweet spot and your damaging spot when prospecting.
To help you align sales activities with your customers, set a mutual closed plan. In this plan, you should create a sales forecast so you can close your deals and track your goals before your damaging spot.
Teach your salesforce that when they perform a demo, they have to create a value-based conversation. This will let the prospects appreciate the value of what you’re trying to sell.
Having a Predictive Pipeline Through CRM
If you’re serious about accuracy in sales and marketing forecasting, you’ll need something that can probably go a mile deep. You may need a pipeline management software embedded in your CRM Software.
In Inside Sales, we have Predictive Pipeline, which is an app integrated with Salesforce.
We call it predictive because, with a little bit of artificial intelligence, it gives us sales pipeline metrics to help us forecast effectively. It gives you a giant dashboard and helps you identify and track where you are in your sales funnel on a given day of the month.
Sales pipeline management tools like these can also help you manage your pipeline by creating quick scans to identify all the qualified leads and automatically create a sales pipeline report. Through sales process automation and CRM, your team can avoid wasting time and focus on the overall sales and marketing management.
Indeed, to manage your pipeline, you need to create a holistic approach in your company’s sales and marketing management. You may need a lot of requirements, such as real-time data, to create a pipeline review anytime and anywhere you want.
But, to be able to inspire sales enablement and lead nurturing, hopefully, the insights above would help you.
What do you do to manage your pipeline? Share your tips and tricks in the comments section below.