Sales Pipeline Development refers to all of the activities a sales organization performs in order to manage potential clients and encourage them to become loyal customers.
One of the most important steps is creating a sales and marketing process that your staff follows from initial contact through closing and repeat sales. A top performing sales and marketing team knows this "game plan" and executes it consistently. A key component of any successful sales pipeline is providing software tools for tracking leads and updating their status from various conversion events. Let's talk about these two important elements.
The Game Plan
Your sales process should be designed, not inherited. Yes, each sales rep is an individual with his/her own "style", but you will have no way of monitoring and improving sales performance if there is no system in place for managing accounts. Some crucial elements of your sales process should include:
- How are leads distributed to your sales reps?
- How are leads evaluated as they enter the pipeline - who is responsible and what criteria do they use?
- Once a lead is assigned, how and when should a sales rep contact the lead?
- What information does the sales rep have about a lead? Is this information available via a web or mobile app for convenience and rapid response?
- Do your reps have up-to-date information on your products and services, and what message should they use to inform and interest leads? Is their message aligned with marketing?
- Assuming first call success, who and what does the first appointment involve? Phone call, meeting, presentation? What criteria do you use to decide?
- What responses work best for overcoming objections and delaying tactics? Are your sales reps trained in best practices for winning sales?
- What about pricing and delivery scenarios? Are your reps up to speed on those? Are there discounts or other offers available? How and when do you inform your sales team about them?
- Assuming success, how does each rep close a sale and collect payment? What happens next?
When you create and manage an effective sales process, you have a much better chance of improving sales performance and losing fewer opportunities due to inefficiency, poor communication or timing issues.
Sales Force Automation
Arming your sales team with CRM software helps them to stick to your sales process or "game plan" and helps you to monitor progress. You can anchor each step in the pipeline development process to specific actions, for example updating lead status and documenting phone calls, e-mails and meetings. Most of the leading CRM's can be updated via smartphones, so your reps can stay in touch and update their accounts in the field or after hours. This keeps your sales team agile and ready to respond in an instant.