Ensuring your sales force understands (and can effectively execute) your sales processes are vital. By clearly defining your sales process, as well as giving specific metrics and goals (such as opportunity dollar size vs. average won deal size, opportunity age vs. typical win cycle, pipeline volume, and win rate), you give your force a clearer picture of what is at the top of the funnel, and what is ready to close. By giving your team a clear picture of what stage they are in with the customer, they can move that customer quickly and confidently through the pipeline with as little confusion as possible. This also cuts down on costly delays, especially in regards to closing. By enabling a clear view of where the customer actually is within the pipeline, your sales force can determine a reasonable, achievable closing date, enabling better planning moving forward. It is also effective to separate the discussions of where customers are in the pipeline from the forecasts of commitment. Forecasting a closing date is a topic for much later, and can muddy the waters of your pipeline if the discussion is premature.
Analyzing your pipeline is also important. Ensuring your team understands historical trends within your pipeline gives them the ability to understand, in context, how well they are performing, and what the relative health of your pipeline is. It can also help predict the relative timetable of deals currently in your pipeline. It is also necessary to ensure your team can assess the opportunity probabilities of your pipeline. Knowing when in the cycle the best chances to close come can be the difference between success and failure.
The last, and often overlooked, key is purging your pipeline of old and dead leads. Clearing the clutter out of your pipeline allows you to focus on the important leads, and also helps to improve the accuracy of both your win/loss analysis and forecasting probabilities, as mentioned above.
These simple concepts can increase the effectiveness of your pipeline management, drastically improving your CRM performance.
For more detailed recommendations on this topic, see our article, “
By Socius, an Ohio CRM Provider (www.socius1.com)