Building a sales pipeline is one of the most important considerations for any business owner looking to close more sales and drive forward the bottom line.
When you build a strong sales pipeline, you'll gain a clear overview of your internal sales process, which includes:
- The steps your salespeople take throughout the sales process
- Key sales stages
- Customer contacts
- How many value deals are within your small business
Building a sales pipeline helps your sales team directly improve the bottom line of your business. By both organizing and managing the potential leads, you'll end up with a much better picture of the strengths and weaknesses of your sales funnel and process.
This process begins by examining daily activities, the length of the sales process, and what your average conversion rates are.
But what else needs to be done to build a strong sales pipeline from the ground up? In this article, we'll take a look at exactly what you can do to build your sales pipeline (even if you don't even have the first pipe in place).
Defining Your Sales Cycle Stages
First, it's important to understand that a strong sales pipeline needs to be framed around a successful sales cycle. The sales cycle simply means all of the steps required to close a sale or deal.
For most business owners, the sales cycle stages will include:
- Target clients and customers
- Leads you've contacted
- Leads you've set up meetings with
- Prospects who have received a proposal from you or your team
- Prospects who have signed a deal
Of course, you'll want to define your specific key stages so that they suit the nature of your small business. Take into consideration the decision-making processes of your customers. Seek feedback from every department or your business, paying special attention to your marketing team.
Make sure to review, in detail, the stages with your sales team to make sure that they are true-to-life and match normal scenarios. Then, prepare yourself to replace or tweak sales stages as time moves on and you better understand the intricacies of your sales pipeline.
Figure Out How Many Opportunities Are Needed To Hit the Target
Successful salespeople are almost always driven by setting targets. Because of this, a strong sales pipeline has to reflect this.
Every key stage of the process needs to indicate the number of opportunities, leads, and prospects that are needed to hit a set target. For example, you may have calculated that you current with 10% of the deals from the leads you've reached out to, and 85% of prospects that have received your proposal.
However, your sales team spends around 25% of their days contacting leads and only 15% working on delivering proposals.
This type of insight into the conversion rates of your sales funnel helps you evaluate where your sales team members are spending their days. You'll then be able to easily factor on whether the time they spend on activities is adding value or removing them from working on the sales pipeline's more crucial stages.
Remember, the average salesperson spends almost 65% of their days on activities that aren't sales related. It's critical that the remaining 35% of their time dedicated to sales is spent on the right stages. This will help them more regularly meet and exceed set targets.
Modify or Create a Sales Process Around the Sales Cycle
In a perfect world, your business would already have a tailored, highly defined sales process that quickly secures leads and effortlessly closes deals. But even if that's the case for your business, when you build a new sales pipeline from the ground up, your sales process might need to be enhanced or reviewed accordingly.
Begin by deciding which activities are needed in each stage of the sales cycle. When documenting your target customers, the specific activity could be as simple as defining stakeholders and locating each one's contact information.
While in the proposal stage, an activity could be getting a new budget approved and putting together your proposal document.
When you focus on activities such as these, you'll have a lot more control of your sales process. You'll also have higher visibility on what's happening during each stage of the sales cycle.
Build a Database
A big, robust database of prospects, leads, industry insiders, and possible customers is a literal gold mine to a business owner. Every time you have contact with someone new in your industry, think of them as a new potential client or partner.
Make sure to add them to your database.
Other businesses have been known to grow their databases by purchasing data from brokers. However, there are a lot of organic ways of building a strong database.
Some of these ideas include:
- Creating and publishing hot-topic industry-related content and using powerful calls-to-action
- Cold calling (It's really not that bad)
- Reaching out to potential clients through email and social media
- Networking at events and virtual events
It's absolutely essential to keep up-to-date with your database. The best CRM for salespeople only works as well as the data you and your team load into it.
Get Your Pitch Polished and Plan Your Phone Calls
Hopefully, you have a sales team filled with great communicators. However, there's still an opportunity to upskill and train your people on the selling and pitching process.
Begin by identifying ways you can add more value to customers. Then make sure that you're able to demonstrate the added value to your business leads.
This process will help move targets through your pipeline and advance them to the more crucial stages where the sale is secured.
Always make sure you have a strong elevator pitch locked and loaded and are brimming with confidence when communicating your USPs.
Talent Is Imperative
By far one of the top factors when building a strong sales pipeline from the ground up is having the best talent on your team as possible.
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