Here is a fact: a sales pipeline is only as accurate as the data entered into it. So while you are creating and managing your sales pipeline, you need to be realistic, clear and focused if you want to see tangible results.
BE REALISTIC ABOUT SALES OPPORTUNITIES
A common issue faced by most organizations is when sales executives get over-enthusisatic about the sales opportunities they see. More often than not, what a sales executive perceives as a great opportunity never comes to fruition. When this happens, your pipeline data becomes inconsistent as you begin tracking deals. To avoid this, get your sales team leaders to sit down with their executives and analyze buyer behavior, and purchase history. This will help attach a realistic expectation to a lead.
CLEAN UP YOUR PIPELINE
Something else that clogs up your sales pipeline? The perpetual fence-sitters who keep you hanging. Be brutal. Get rid of prospects who seem like they will never be ready to do business with you. Get rid of problem people who take up too much time, effort and resources, without giving you returns for effort. You can also weed out old contacts whom you have not connected or done business with in years. Move on. When you focus on fewer prospects and spend more time with existing customers, you can estimate where you will be by the end of the cycle.
EQUIP YOURSELF WITH SMARTER TOOLS
Your customers and prospects are getting smarter about their purchases, and as a business owner, you need to use smarter technology to snag them. Make use of CRM tools to get more accurate forecasts, and make use of other technologies for lead capture and nurturing, web visitor tracking, alerts etc. Excel sheets are archaic, can be clumsy, and may not give you real-time updates.
Once you have an accurate sales pipeline process in place, it will be easier to engage with your prospects, whatever stage of the pipeline they may be at.