2018 is fast approaching, and it means that your company is about to enter a new stage, with new goals, new opportunities, and new expectations. Before the last quarter of the year ends, it’s important that your sales team is fully geared up for this transition, and that means evaluating several factors and processes that affect the team – one of which is the sales pipeline.
Here’s everything you need to know about setting up your sales pipeline for the first quarter of 2018:
What is a sales pipeline?
For the uninitiated, a sales pipeline is a visual representation of where you are in the sales process. It shows how much business your salespeople are expected to close in a week, month, or year, and how close they are to reaching their quota – individually and as a team. This is essential in forecasting the number and amount of deals that will be closed in each period.
A sales pipeline shouldn’t deal with superficial looks – it has to be built around hard data and the situation in reality if you aim to really go through the finish line.
How do you create a sales pipeline?
Sales pipelines do not have a standard equation for all businesses, but it remains that it should reflect your current standing and where you should be at the end of the quarter. This is essential as it allows you to ensure that there are enough solid opportunities to meet your goals.
Here are the steps you need to take in creating your sales pipeline:
1. Close Pushed Deals
Before starting on your 2018 sales pipeline, you first need to make sure that all loose ends have been fixed – in other words, close all outstanding pushed deals that should have been closed last quarter. It’s better to start with a blank slate with your sales pipeline so it’s easier to track things down the line and you can let your team focus on cultivating new business and growing the overall pipeline. These deals can also be immediate wins for the early phase of the new quarter if the reps follow through quickly and overcome whatever hurdle prevented them from closing the deal before.
2. Analyse the Pipeline
While previously-pushed deals are being closed, the sales managers should focus on analysing the value of your overall sales pipeline. Evaluating your pipeline will let you see if you would have enough opportunities left to reach your goals. Areas where you are lacking and areas that can be improved should come to light first before cleaning up your pipeline.
To diagnose your pipeline, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have the most up-to-date information?
- Basic information like contact name, email, phone number, company name, etc. are needed, but they aren’t enough to help you truly understand your prospect’s situation or needs. Dig deeper into more details about your prospect, like budget, decision-making authority, needs, and timeline for implementation of your solution.
- Do I have a diverse portfolio of opportunities?
- Depending on the nature of your business and/or industry, you may need a mixed portfolio of opportunities, especially if you may not always have the bandwidth (server space, manpower, etc.) to handle multiple large deals at once. It might be more efficient and manageable to work on a few small deals, medium-sized deals, and large deals for better deal flow and sales momentum.
- Is most of my prospects advancing in the sales process?
- It’s vital that you consider your individual sales process and personas to figure out if there are areas of concern that needs addressing, such as if you are speaking with the right people, or potentially neglecting your buyer’s natural journey.
- Do I have a clearly-defined Buyer’s Journey?
- If your pipeline stages are more accommodating to you instead of your customer, it’s time to re-evaluate and reposition yourself. Get the perspective of your prospects and clients about their experience, and use these to define your pipeline stages.
3. Track it With a Dashboard
After assessing your current pipeline, it’s necessary that you can track the progress and the questions you’ve answered for future reference. This way, you are more reminded of what needs to be done to reach the quota. Having a visible reminder enables you to make quick decisions about matters that need to be addressed so your process continues smoothly.
You can do so by building a dashboard which shows the critical information, like where you stand and what you need to do next. Your dashboard needs to be objective and defined a path to reach your goal, showcasing your best opportunities.
4. Feed the Pipeline
Now that you have a clearer understanding of your sales pipeline and how many opportunities your sales team needs to reach their quota this quarter, it’s time to start rolling. This is the most important time of the month for your SDRs (Sales Development Reps) as they need to start feeding the pipeline with as many opportunities as they can get by finding new leads, booking meetings, and handing off strong leads to your closers to turn into new deals.
You can augment this in several ways. You can make a contest out of the process by offering rewards to the rep that books the most meetings by the end of the day. It can also be turned into a team effort to see which group of people will be able to close more deals throughout the quarter. These can help push the team to their highest capacity as early as possible to maximize the opportunities they can find that will get you to your goals.
Latest posts by Garret Norris (see all)
- Common Mistakes Small Businesses Make in Social Media - January 28, 2019
- Benefits of Social Media Monitoring for Small Businesses - January 14, 2019
- Social Media Campaign Ideas Small Businesses Could Try - December 24, 2018