5 Tricks To Overcome Common Sales Pipeline Issues
Effective management of your sales pipeline is one of the key elements of revenue generation for any business.
It involves keeping track of prospective customers, sales targets, sales reps, and every other factor that could affect your conversion rate or the outcomes of any stage of your pipeline.
If you’ve been having a hard time maintaining a healthy flow of opportunities through your pipeline, you need to realize this experience is not unique to you alone.
A recent report from CSO Insights found that only about 53% of sales managers hit their targets.
The good news is that you can optimize your sales pipeline to achieve better results and improve revenue growth by resolving the issues plaguing it.
Most Common Pipeline Problems
Here are some of the most common issues that lead to blocked pipelines and prevent your sales efforts from thriving.
Too much time spent on indecisive prospects
Few things are as wasteful as wasting your time and resources chasing prospective customers that will never mature into converted leads. These prospects remain in the same stage without advancing further for many months.
Long sales cycle
What is the average amount of time it takes for you to move a prospect from the qualification stage to closing the deal? If the process takes too much time, it can lead to clients losing interest in your product or service.
Focusing on quantity over quality of leads
An increase in the number of leads that end up in your pipeline might improve your conversion, but that depends on the quality of the leads. If your pipeline is overflowing with leads that never seem to go anywhere, you’re wasting time and resources.
When data crucial to your business operations is broken up amongst different people or tools, information can slip into cracks and go missing, causing you to lose money and opportunities.
Ineffective sales follow-up
Whether you’re running a B2C or B2B company, failing to follow up on qualified prospects can prove detrimental to your sales pipeline. Following up once or twice and expecting it to be enough is just as bad.
Outdated pipeline processes
Many sales managers rely on their pipelines to clean, maintain, and update themselves, and some do not even have a defined process. Luck and hope can only take you so far; the rest of the way will require strategy and effort.
5 Tricks To Overcome Common Sales Pipeline Issues
1. Shorten the length of your sales cycle
According to a CSO Insight report, 27% of sales reps attribute the ineffectiveness of sales processes to long sales cycles, and it’s easy to see why.
The longer it takes to conclude a sale, the more likely your prospect will find an alternative business to patronize or change their mind.
An effective way to get around this problem is to reduce the length of the sales cycle. If you take a week between follow-ups, consider shortening it to a few days.
Provide prospects with the information they might need later upfront, so they spend less time making their decisions.
Look at your sales pipeline and find areas where you can improve or introduce a new process that saves time.
2. Get familiar with your sales metrics
A sales manager is only as good as his or her ability to understand and interpret the data derived from all sales processes. If you neglect the data, you’ll end up hindering the flow and success of your sales pipeline.
Some of the statistics you need to stay on top of are:
- The number and source of leads generated each month
- The conversion rate of leads to opportunities
- The rate of conversion of opportunities to closed deals
- Win rate
- The average length of your sales cycle
- Loss rate
Having those numbers in your toolbox will help you to make better outcome predictions.
Statistics from previous cycles can serve as guidelines for making informed decisions about adapting your sales efforts and strategies.
Also, you can quickly identify sources that generate the most revenue and reallocate resources from venues that are not bringing in the cash.
3. Focus on chasing the best leads
The time you spend on bad leads will cost you resources and time you could have spent on developing qualified leads.
Concentrate your sales efforts on high-priority prospects—those that seem ready to buy or are most valuable.
Go through your pipeline and try to nudge those leads that are stuck in one stage into the next.
According to Altify Buyer/Seller Value Index, businesses lose around $218,000 from chasing wrong deals every year per sales rep.
It’s hard to admit that a lead is dead when you’ve spent months chasing it, but you need to cut it out of your pipeline once you realize they won’t budge.
This way, you can move on to the next opportunity, without wasting time on prospects who have lost interest in your offer.
4. Store all your important sales information in one place
Data is the backbone of any effective sales strategy.
You need to keep records of who your customers and prospects are, leads in all stages of your pipeline, sales touchpoints, contact information, correspondence history, forecasts, and more.
If you’re a one-person sales team with a limited budget and a small portfolio, you can keep track of your data using an Excel sheet or cloud storage.
However, a larger business, with two or more sales reps, would be better off using a more custom CRM software to keep track of their data and store them together for easy access.
Don’t neglect the importance of interdepartmental data exchange. It will help you identify what sales methodologies and sources generate the most revenue.
Once you have a central database of all your sales activities, managing your pipeline becomes much more straightforward.
5. Clean and review your pipeline processes
If you haven’t already, you need to sit down and define the processes in your pipeline—lead, opportunity, and conversion—figure out what each stage entails, and the strategies you’ll employ to move prospects further down the pipeline.
A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that companies with a defined sales process experienced an 18 % growth in revenue compared to companies without one.
Come up with a sorting system for your leads that shows their priority level and review the quality of each one to determine whether they’re worth pursuing.
This will help with your sales forecasts and make it easier to scale up marketing efforts when necessary.
Not reviewing and updating your sales pipeline can lead to it becoming cluttered, causing you to miss out on sales opportunities.
Cleaning your pipeline will help you figure out the sales techniques that are no longer effective, the areas that you need to improve, the changes that are bringing positive results, and the overall health of your business.
The sales pipeline is the lifeblood of every business. It’s a living thing you need to nurture and improve upon constantly to speed up sales processes and achieve maximum success.
If you can’t nip the problems in your sales pipeline in the bud, you risk missing out on new opportunities, customers, and revenue lines for your business.
More than 60% of sales managers admit that their company can do a better job managing their sales pipeline.
Sure, you’ll make some mistakes along the way, but as long as you know what they are and how to work around them, you’re bound to generate profit for your business and hit your sales targets a lot faster.