Sales Pipeline Management: 10 Best Practices to Improve Sales

Nikunj Dudhat

Nikunj Dudhat

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: August 21, 2020

Sales representatives are seen handling many prospects and deals simultaneously, all at different stages of the sales process. Keeping track of every sales deal in an unorganized manner can result in many lost opportunities. 

Company revenue is directly proportional to the number of leads closed. For the success of the business, it is important to have a clearly defined sales pipeline that can help organize the sales process and maximize business revenue.

Looking for Lead Management Software? Check out SoftwareSuggest’s list of Best Lead Management Software solutions.

In this article, let’s have a look at some of the best practices that you can implement for effective pipeline management.

What Is Sales Pipeline Management?

A sales pipeline is the visual representation of your sales process, divided into different stages. It outlines every step of your sale process — from interacting with your potential clients for the first time to closing the final deal. 

Sales pipeline management is the process of organizing and tracking prospects, goals, and sales quota. It enables salespeople to keep track of all their deals by knowing exactly which stage the client is in. It also gives an overview of whether there are enough prospects in the pipeline to hit their quota and goals. 

The basic stages of a sales pipeline include:

  • Identifying your prospects
  • Qualifying your leads
  • Making your prospects aware of your products and/or services
  • Buyer decides to use your product/service
  • Buyer signs the deal or the contract

The sales pipeline stages may differ from company to company, but it should reflect your buyer’s journey. 

How to Manage your Sale Pipeline Effectively

A study revealed that companies with a well-defined sales process saw an 18% increase in their revenue compared to those that didn’t. A well-designed sales pipeline can assist in closing more sales deals and indicate the overall health of the organization. 

Here are the ten best practices that can help you with effective sales pipeline management. 

1. Analyze Historical Pipeline Data

Analyzing your historical pipeline data means keeping track of all your metrics and studying how it evolved over time. It helps you create sales best practices.

Having historical data can be quite useful for sales forecasting. By analyzing historical pipeline data, you can — 

  • Determine the overall growth of the organization

One way to do that is by analyzing the number and value of opportunities in your pipeline on a quarterly and monthly basis. It will help you know whether the business is growing over time. 

  • Evaluate your sale reps competency

Pipeline history can be a useful tool to study and analyze how your sales team is performing. Besides, it will help identify the problem your sales reps are facing and how you can coach them better. 

2. Target the Right Customer

Many salespeople are often seen making the same mistake. Without realizing, they spend much time chasing prospects who do not match their target profile. 

When you fill your pipeline with mismatched prospects, you clutter your pipeline, resulting in wasted efforts. 

That’s why prospecting should be about nurturing the right people rather than concentrating on having as many conversations as possible. It’s a proven fact that sales reps tend to close more deals even with a small pipeline, filled with higher quality leads. 

The best way to find the right prospect is by creating a lead qualification checklist

3. Use a Software to Manage Sales Pipeline 

When your pipeline is full of leads, it can be hard to keep track of each one of them manually. Besides, it’s not necessary that they all might be in the same stage. 

Maintaining an Excel spreadsheet to track your leads is only viable if you are a one-person team. But when your business starts to grow, managing all interactions across dozens or hundreds of people over months or years can be a stretch.

The best way to combat this situation is to make use of the right sales technology. Lead management software like Pipelinedeals, Pipeliner CRM allows you to have a detailed and organized view of your sales pipelines.

It offers collaborative pipeline management by supporting task and deal assignments, adding notes, and maintaining conversation records. Without a dedicated sales platform, it will be much difficult to carry out your sales process efficiently.

4. Manage Your Time Efficiently

The excessive use of smartphones and the internet is making us all lose our focus. Salespeople are no different.

Time management is one of the most important skills for any sales agent. Yet, only 22% of sales reps surveyed use some sort of time management methodology.

It is seen that poor sales pipeline management often leads to messed up schedules and piling up of work. You are not able to work efficiently, which results in significant issues sometimes.

You might miss relevant emails or forget meetings with clients, losing a chance to close a deal. Thus, you must have an effective time management plan in place.

Some tips that might come in handy:

  • Don’t try to micromanage things
  • Schedule daily sales activities
  • Use templates and stay organized
  • Make use of time management apps

5. Prioritize Your Leads

As a sales rep, you are responsible for nurturing your prospects to leads or leads to customers. However, there is nothing wrong with prioritizing your leads. This is also known as lead scoring. 

Lead scoring is the process of sorting your leads from high to low, instead of sorting them by dates, and see which leads are the most valuable for your business. If you look at that list, you can identify which leads are more engaging.

Of course, you should focus on each lead, but don’t get distracted by anything that might not create any difference for your business. 

6. Keep a Short Sales Cycle

The logic is quite simple. If your sales cycle is long, your prospects get more time to change their minds and fall out of your pipeline. This is why it is always suggested to keep your sales cycle as short as possible.

Yet again, having a short sales cycle doesn’t mean that you do 5-6 follow-ups in a single day. Instead, you should try to come up with solutions where you can reduce the number of days between follow-ups and provide more information to your clients that will help shorten their decision-making time.

7. Clean Your Sales Pipeline Regularly

Your leads are continually moving through your pipeline. If you don’t keep updating your sales pipeline constantly, you will end up having a messy, chaotic schedule. This might result in lost deals.

Always keep updating your details on every single lead regularly. For effective pipeline management, remove dead leads and keep all your clients’ and prospects’ contact details up-to-date.

A clean pipeline means having a well-organized view, offering clear insights into your future and present projection. Besides, it enables users to have a detailed track of every interaction or communication with the client. 

8. Build Standard Sales Process

Generally, sales representatives prefer to have their own custom approach to closing a deal. You might say that every customer is unique, and so it makes sense.

But when you target a certain segment of buyers, you will find many things in common. For starters, they have the same reason why they would consider buying your products.

Besides, when sales reps build their own sales process, they fall out of team alignment. This lack of sync has a negative effect, particularly slowing down the cycle.

But when the whole team is on the same page, it makes the work a lot of fun and efficient at the same time. Create a standard sales process or a template that pushes prospects down the same pipeline. 

9. Understand and Improve Pipeline Processes

Having a sales pipeline helps you effectively collect data and measure your team’s performance. This same data can be analyzed to gain insights into the competency of the group.

These insights can be quite useful in making small or significant changes to improve your overall sales process.

The best approach is to identify blockages in your pipelines, and you can then formulate different plans (and test them) to clear those out.

Thus, it’s advisable to keep reviewing your sales pipeline management process and optimize it to ensure maximum benefits.

10. Take Customers Follow Up

Sometimes sales reps get so busy nurturing the new leads in the pipeline that they forget to follow up with the existing clients. Inefficient use of time and cluttered pipeline are the main reasons why sales reps don’t follow up.

If you want to close a deal, you need to be consistent in your process.

Find ways to keep your prospects engaged so that they don’t think about using your competitors’ products.

Besides, following up with your customers let you filter out the dead leads from the pipeline. It’s a win-win situation. 

Final Thoughts

The final step to managing your sales pipeline is by generating reports and analyzing them. This information will help you predict your future sales growth and give an overview of your organizational health. 

So how are you handling your business sales pipelines? Follow these top practices on sales pipeline management, and watch your company grow.

Nikunj Dudhat
A digital marketing and content curator at SoftwareSuggest, a software recommendation platform. I am passionate about Digital Marketing, and all things digital. Also interested in technology and innovation. In my spare time, enjoy playing cricket, and Badminton.

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