We’ve all heard it over and over again. What we are doing wrong with our sales pipeline and what we could be doing better. But after years of working in sales enablement and helping sales teams to better manage their pipeline, I’ve realized many best practices and key metrics don’t get down to what really holds many sales teams back.
Here are three actionable process tips that nearly all sales teams can implement to improve their sales pipeline management and see real improvements.
1) Ensure that sales reps are following the same sales playbook
You might be thinking, We do this already! We have a playbook and the sales reps follow it, but as they say, the devil is in the details. Your sales playbook should be followed to the t and have a play for every stage of the pipeline.
Ideally, every step of the pipeline should correspond to the playbook. For example, at every stage of the pipeline the playbook should specify the kinds of actions that your sales rep needs to take and within what certain timeframe. Although this may sound like micromanaging, even your best and most experienced reps can benefit from knowing exactly where in the pipeline they can improve.
This level of detail tracking also helps managers find common weak spots in the playbook, enabling them to test new and better ways to approach the lead at every stage in the pipeline.
Overall, it’s all about setting your team up for micro improvements—2% improvements at every stage of the pipeline leads to compounded impact.
One of the best ways to see if your team is following your playbook is by sending out a survey. Ask about your sales process, and if descriptions don’t line-up, it’s time to get everyone onboard with the same process.
To create a new process: first, clearly define the new process together; then, encourage everyone to follow it relentlessly until enough data can be gathered to measure the quality of this process.
2) Link your sales pipeline with the customer onboarding process
At the end of the day sales isn’t some isolated area in the company. Your new clients and customers, especially in the B2B realm, need to feel like you care. This will not only help your reps build rapport with clients (can you say, referrals) but also add to the company’s reputation.
One way to ensure a new customer’s success is by being an active part in the onboarding process and hand-off to customer success. Sales reps tend to struggle with creating a smooth hand-off because a lack of a clear onboarding start and end, or they try to use tech that is incompatible with the job. For example, I’ve seen onboarding processes run out of Salesforce with little success. Even though Salesforce is a great tool, it just wasn’t built to handle that step in the sales process. Look for integrations with customer success tools and your current sales tools to avoid this problem, and if you’re not crazy about your current sales tools, try to find one that can easily connect or support the customer onboarding process.
3) Use tools that boost and accurately gauge performance
If you couldn’t tell already, I am a huge fan of process. I think having a solid execution process and the discipline to see it through is what takes teams from lucky ameatuers to well-seasoned pros.
Why do you ask? Well, having a well-defined sales process allows to follow the same sales method which is crucial for data analysis.
Let’s suppose: your sales team has 30% conversion rate converting product demonstrations to new opportunities. This is metric represents a measurement of the effectiveness of actions taken between product demonstrations and new opportunities stages of the pipeline. But this only applies when there are a set of strict actions being taken. In other words, this great conversion rate means absolutely nothing if you can’t say what actions (pitches, follow-ups, and other touch-points) were taken to get it.
Sales teams need repetition, tests and validation based on a single methodology. Having the same baseline is the only way to make a super-refined data analysis and apply improvement hypotheses harmonically for your team.
That being said, if you aren’t deep into it with a CRM or pipeline management tool, I would look for one that allows you to build, run, and measure well-structured sales processes. This way you are better equipped to ensure your team is following your playbook at every stage of the pipeline, to better measure individual performance, and to make sure no lead falls through the cracks.
Last but not least, make sure you’re not forcing your team to fit into a tool. The easiest thing to do when searching for the perfect sales tool, is to not search at all a go with the household names. The problem is, just because these tools are very popular, doesn’t mean your team will be better off by using them.
When searching for tools, consider both how your sales team functions now and how you hope they will evolve. This will make sure you pick a software that fits your team’s core methodologies and not the other way around.
Why I recommend you use Pipefy for your pipeline management
Whether your team is small or 300 strong, Pipefy enables you to built a sales process that fits the unique needs of your team and accurately track their performance — without IT or code.
Try our free and customizable sales pipeline management template and let me know what you think!
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