A sales pipeline development strategy is essential as it aligns all sales-driven aspects of any company. An efficient and effective sales pipeline development plan can tackle sales issues. But leaders still find themselves stuck without a proper strategy for sales pipeline development.
In this article, we will talk about:
- Sales pipeline development in general
- What is the best way to build an exemplary sales pipeline?
- What are promising sales pipelines?
- Sales pipeline development strategies
- Best practices in sales pipeline stages
What is a sales pipeline development strategy
A sales pipeline development strategy helps you chart out a clear course to build a pipeline full of opportunities. It will show how many deals sales reps can expect to close in a given period.
It is important to have a clear idea of the sales pipeline stages to develop a high-value pipeline.
Sales pipeline stages
You attract prospective clients through various marketing activities. After that, you engage with them and capture their contact information.
2. Lead Qualification
You send these contacts and inquiries to your marketing team, and they try their best to qualify these leads.
Here, you can offer lead magnets (content) like an e-book, whitepaper, webinar, etc. Based on your prospects’ actions, you determine whether they are interested in your offerings or not.
3. Demo or Meeting
After the marketing teams qualify the leads, the sales team takes over. You schedule a demo to introduce prospects to your solutions.
At this stage, the prospect is interested in your offerings. But they still need one last push to make a final decision. Your sales team can give them this push.
Here, your sales team can show them the advantages of working with you. You can offer additional services and offer them a seamless post-purchase experience.
5. Negotiation and Commitment
At this stage, your sales team discusses the scope of work (expanding or shrinking). You develop a mutual agreement with the prospect leads about the services and offerings.
6. Opportunity Won
If all goes well, the lead account makes a purchase decision and converts it into revenue.
Best practices to improve your sales pipeline development strategy
Here are some best practices to help you increase the opportunities in your sales pipeline.
1. Build a thorough follow-up process
Customers nowadays have more choices than ever. They need more help in choosing the right product. A few years ago, it would take only 2-3 calls to close a deal. Today, it takes more than 8! Therefore you must build a thorough follow-up process. The best way to handle this is to automate the process.
2. Focus on your best leads
Concentrate your efforts on the most high-value leads. For instance, if you sort your dashboard from high to low, you will instantly see which tips are valuable to your business and which are not.
3. Drop dead leads sooner
Let go of dead leads. When your prospective customers clearly state that they are not interested, no matter what you do, you won’t be able to push them further into the sales pipeline.
Learn to identify these dead leads instantly, so you can move on to the next opportunity without wasting much time.
4. Monitor pipeline metrics
Monitor your key sales metrics, including:
- The number of deals
- The average size of the deals
- The average percentage of deals won (close ratio)
- The average lifetime of deals before it closes (sales velocity)
Review these metrics every week and keep tracking the results over time.
5. Regularly review and improve your pipeline process
Sales techniques evolve with time. What works today may not work tomorrow. Therefore, you must do a thorough sales pipeline analysis to ensure things are fine-tuned and optimized. It will bring maximum efficiency to your sales teams.
6. Update Your Sales Pipeline Regularly
Your sales pipeline constantly changes—you have new leads, they move through the funnel stages, deals are closed, and so on. Your sales pipeline can get disorganized if you do not keep it updated, leading to lost sales.
To avoid this:
- Keep every single lead detail up to date
- Add regular notes and information for each stage
- Remove dead leads
- Update contact information, etc.
7. Keep your sales cycle short
A long sales cycle is a significant barrier to sales effectiveness. 75% of all B2B sales take at least four months to close. The longer your sales processes are, the more chances your prospective customer gets to change their mind. Therefore, make sure you adopt a sales acceleration strategy to help you shorten the sales cycle.