If you don’t manage your sales pipeline effectively, you could be losing out on new customers and your business might suffer as a result of inconsistent income. To learn how to improve sales pipeline performance, start by reading our tips on the following areas:
- Always follow up
- Focus on valuable leads
- Drop the dead weight
- Learn how to measure sales pipeline success
- Create content to fill the sales pipeline
Always follow up
In the past, it took only three sales calls to close a deal. Now, on average, it takes more than eight to finalise a sale. This could be due to the fact that customers have more information and options than ever before, and so convincing them your business is the right one to help them takes a little more time.
If a potential customer (often called a lead or prospect) has been in your sales pipeline for a while but has not moved into the next stage, always follow up with them. Many salespeople may give up after a couple of calls, due to not wanting to feel pushy or annoying. But don’t forget to follow up with potential leads, because only two calls will rarely land a sale these days.
The easiest way to ensure you follow up with every prospect is to set reminders. Many CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems will have built-in features that do this for you, after a set amount of time with no interaction. It could notify you if you haven’t heard back from a lead in ten days, to get you to follow up. But if you don’t use a CRM yet, you can always use email or calendar notifications to remind you to follow up with individual contacts after a period of time that feels right.
Focus on valuable leads
When looking at your ‘valuable’ leads, it’s not just about which potential sale has the highest monetary value. In order to make the most of your time, you should look at which prospects are most engaged with you. Consider who responds often, who asks a lot of questions and who has the most urgent need for your product or services and is looking to buy soon. This way you are focusing time and attention on the leads that will be most impactful to your business.
Drop the dead weight
If you find yourself spending a lot of time following up on leads that never come back to you, it’s important to learn when to let go. Even if you’ve spent time building a relationship, there are many reasons that the customer may not be ready to buy yet and here are some indicators of that:
- They tell you they can’t commit yet or simply that they aren’t interested at this time.
- You can’t reach them or they stop responding via their preferred method of contact.
- They have been stuck at the same stage of the pipeline for a while and you can’t get them to move to the next stage.
Identifying dead leads can save you time and effort, freeing you up to focus on the more valuable leads. You can always create a long term follow up for any dead leads if you think that there’s a chance, or they’ve told you, that they may be interested a few months down the line.
Learn how to measure sales pipeline success
To be able to improve your sales pipeline you need to know what ‘good’ and ‘bad’ looks like in terms of numbers. Here are some measures that will indicate how well you are selling and can highlight areas that need improvement:
- The total number of deals in your pipeline.
- The number of sales you’ve closed.
- The number of deals you didn’t win.
- The average percentage of deals you win (often called your ‘close rate’).
- The length of time it takes to close a sale (sales velocity).
To calculate your close rate, take the number of closed sales and divide it by the total number of deals (won and lost deals added together), then multiply by 100 for the percentage.
You can also work out an average of your sales velocity (the amount of time it takes to win a deal), by adding together the lengths of all won sales and dividing by the total of won sales.
By measuring effectively, you’ll be able to identify areas that are stalling your progress or which need improvement. For example, you might notice that it’s taking much longer than previous months to close sales, then you can try to find out why that is.
You might also notice that your results are improving if your close rate is higher. You can try to identify what activities or methods you are using that have led to this success and learn from that, too.
Create content to fill the sales pipeline
Using content to support your sales is very important, especially if your products or services require a little bit of education on your customers’ part. The closer to a sale the prospect is, the more in-depth information they will need to make an informed decision.
Writing articles or FAQs, creating videos or using case studies when you are communicating with a potential customer showcases your expertise and skill. That’s on top of being valuable to the customer’s decision-making process.
When thinking about creating content, a good way to start is to think about what questions you get asked the most in your business, by customers or about your company. Then write an article answering each question. This will provide you with some valuable articles to share in the sales process, as well as starting a content marketing journey – you can read more about how to create a business blog here.
How Countingup helps your sales pipeline
Countingup is the business current account and accounting software in one app. It provides a range of automated bookkeeping features, saving business owners hours of time-consuming work and helping them keep on top of their finances.
Find out more here to save yourself hours of accounting and financial admin so that you can focus on improving your sales pipeline.