A ‘Pivot,’ that’s what sales management does to your business. The Sales management system has a crystal clear vision of sales operations, processes, and techniques to green-check the goals planned by the sales team. Under the sales management system works another efficient management team, the system is called as ‘Sales Pipeline System.‘ This system keeps all its focus on one element, i.e. sales process. The term sales process means merely the way someone sells their stuff to customers. The sales pipeline system just breaks down the process into stages.
Everybody these days wants to stay at the top of every game. Business is a game for them, and a sale is a way to win this game. Opportunity requires efforts like setting up appointments, creating tasks meeting people, etc. This opportunity can be gained by mastering the study under the sales pipe system. Mastering Sales is equal to mastering the entire business.
SALES PIPELINE: DEFINITION
A sales Pipeline is the ocular representation of different sales perspectives and their standings against the sales process. The pipeline provides us with an overall view of sales reps and forecasts about how close the salesperson is to achieve quota, and also how close the whole sales team or the business is to reach the level of allowance. This forecast helps the sales personnel, i.e. the sales reps and sales managers about the monetary status of deals that are supposed to close in a given time frame.
A pipeline is a visual showcasing of where the business’s opportunities stand in the sales process which is broken down into different stages. It deals with the manual on how to convert a prospect into a customer.
SALES PIPELINE: MEANING
The opportunity graph of the business fluctuates from opportunity to opportunity, based on different factors. The more interested the prospect is in the services provided by the business, or the more urgency he creates to buy a product or service, the more is the chance for him to skip initial stages of the pipeline and jump right to the final one. Like, if the prospect is educated about the service and has decided to go for it, it is sensible for the sales reps or sales managers to cut down the process to the final stage and grab that opportunity.
This does not mean that the initial stages of the sales pipeline are waste, No! The previous stages are equally important. The probability that the opportunity will close at a positive note depends upon the results obtained from the last stages. The success of opportunity closure is highly dependent on the effectiveness of the sales reps followed by the conduct of the prospect.
For efficient sales pipeline management, business companies use specialized softwares, like the SFA (Sales Force Automation) and the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to remind sales managers to follow up, keep track of sales opportunities, to auto-start the sales actions, and to maintain a well-organized sales pipeline.
SALES PIPELINE: CONNECTION WITH SALES FUNNELS
Sales pipeline combines different perspectives and views from individual customers’ sales funnels into a combined image that keeps track of all sales prospects. The sales pipeline as said earlier, visualizes the whole lifecycle of a prospect, from the initial meet to becoming a customer and finally to the closure of the business deal.
The steps may include:
- Collecting leads for the deal.
- Passing the lead to become a sales-qualified lead.
- Deciding the validation of a sales-qualified lead into an opportunity for sales.
- Categorizing the deal as closed, on-hold or lost.
The meaning of both the terms is misunderstood and misinterpreted by people most of the times. Till now you must be clear about the meaning of Sales Pipeline, let’s discuss what sales funnel is.
WHAT IS SALES FUNNEL?
A sales funnel is a representation of prospects about their journey that they go through from being a prospect to a paying customer. The primary motive of having a sales funnel is to attract a lot of prospects towards the business and convert most of them into effective customers for the betterment of sales. It means that if we look at this from the perspective of the sales pipeline, to see a whole lot of opportunities at the end of the pipeline, we need a whole lot of opportunities, to begin with as well.
- SALES PIPELINE=OPPERTUNITIES.
- SALES FUNNEL=PROSPECTS.
Example– for a Sales team to finalize 100 opportunities to become customers, there should be more than 100 prospects for the same as not all prospects get qualified to close.
SALES PIPELINE: CREATION
To build a sales pipeline, one should follow some basic steps:
- One should start by identifying the stages of the sales process, also define the Sales Cycle.
- One should know about the leads that qualify from one stage to another at the time of the sales cycle.
- Meeting the sales objectives is a big task, but trying a number of things like seeking the stages backward can help identify problems and close a deal with success.
- One should have all the records of each prospect on every action of the sales rep or sales manager to every response by the prospect.
- Creation of a customized sales process to meet the desired objectives, rather than having a general process which will lead to generalized results.
Well, there is no specific answer on how to build a sales pipeline, as it depends on various factors, like the product that the company sells or the persona of the buyer to acknowledge the stages of sale pipeline.
SALES PIPELINE: STAGES
Developing a template for your sales pipeline is possibly the best way to define the sales pipeline. This is because the prospect’s journey is different for each of them from the perspective of the seller.
Well, there are four stages of a Sales pipeline. Let’s throw some light on them:
- INITIAL CONTACT–
This is the stage where the prospects decide to interact with your business company. It could be something as simple as reading a promotional e-mail by the company or download certain content from your website etc.
At this stage, after acknowledging the business company, the prospect decides to meetwith some agent or rather call him a representative of the company to know more about that company. This provides us with hints that the prospect is interested in the company.
- PROPOSING SOLUTIONS-
At this stage, the prospect receives a demo and a presentation by the business representative on the solutions of business challenges they face. The prospect, on the other hand, focuses on helping the company to overcome their challenges.
- NEGOTIATE AND CLOSE-
In this stage, the representative of the business company sends a proposal or contract to the prospect and tries to grab the opportunity it is being offered.
The selling process of any company should be simple, the more complicated it gets, the longer will be the sales cycle, and lengthier the sales pipeline will get. The above-mentioned stages are fairly enough, or it is an ideal set of stages for a company.
SALES PIPELINE: HEALTH
The health of a sales pipeline depends upon:
- The number of deals in the pipeline, the more, the better.
- The average size of a deal in the pipeline should not be more or less than required.
- The average number of deals that have been closed or the close ratio.
- The velocity of the sales, i.e. the average time that a sales rep takes to close a deal.
Sales pipelines are not 100% efficient in nature. There can be some ups and downs in the functioning of the process. The sales when goes haywire may cause a severe threat to the business’s future sales and profitability. Loss of prospects may lead to a lack of opportunities for the future, and all of this may be caused by a weakness, i.e. known as the ‘Blind Spot.’
WHAT IS A BLIND SPOT?
A blind spot is an unrecognized weakness that is found in business sales pipelines and sales processes which carries with it, potential capacity to harm the business resources. Blind spots may arise from various sources like overconfidence, information overload, emotional decision making, or maybe a weak communication barrier. Blind spots can be harmful to the business in many ways, especially to those who are unaware of its consequences and the impact it could leave on the customers.
HOW TO SPOT A BLIND SPOT?
How can someone possibly solve a problem without known that it even exists? The following points will help you identify the issues:
- Review every mistake you make as a businessman or salesperson.
- Study each detail carefully to find the cause of each mistake that is made.
- Try to find a relation between each mistake that is made, and it may reveal a connection or a weakness.
- Thoroughly go through each connection to spot reoccurring weaknesses.
- Understand the cause of each mistake, and find solutions which prevent you from making the same mistakes again.
BLIND SPOTS: CAUSES
There could be many reasons for the blind spots to exist in the sales process and inhibit the growth of the business. Some of them are:
- Overconfidence: Some salesperson become so blind in their work, they start to think that they are the best, which they are indeed not. They tend to ignore the basic steps of a sales process, which carries some significance to be there and have a role to play. This leads to making wrong sales decisions which harm the profitability of the business.
- Excess-Information: Some salesperson, just to flatter the customer, oversimplify complex problems related to business, which turns out to create chaos and problems which the customer haven’t even had the information about. The customers entirely rely on the information which is right in front of them, or which the salesperson tells them about. A more in-depth check on the background information may prevent causing blind spots.
- Emotional Bias– Some Salesperson get really sensitive about their products, they get too emotional while selling the product that they tend to unknowingly tilt the facts in the direction in which they want their outcome to be. They get so engrossed in explaining their product that they forget about the customer’s needs.
- Experience spaces– Some salesperson fails to keep themselves up to date about the changing marketplace. The customers want sales from people who not only have the knowledge about his own product but keep the knowledge about the market fluctuations as well. This helps the customers to compare the products.
It must be clear up-till now that blind spots are dangerous for the growth of the sales, but it’s not that it can’t be avoided or eliminated.
BLIND SPOTS AND ITS ELIMINATION
There are various blind spots that can be studied carefully and eliminated, but after some thorough researches, I have concluded two major blind spots that keep businesses from growing up to its fullest potentials. These Blind spots are:
- Customer Experience–
Customer service and retention are one of the most overlooked factors in the sales process. This factor is neglected from the very beginning of the sales cycle, which is a blind spot for the inhibition of the businesses growth. According to research, only less than 2% of the total turnover of the company is spent on customer services, which is negligence.
The fastest technique to grow business is to retain existing customers, provide with excellent results to the customers to keep them motivated to be with the company. Thus, customer service is essential when it comes to sales and business, and it should not be ignored.
- Lack of Balance-
Even the most top skilled companies cannot skip this type of blind spot. When the company struggles to get all departments in sync with each other, the sales do not go well; the market will go haywire. When one department like sales is doing wonders within his reach, it attracts customers, but then the salesperson just focuses on sales rather thanonresults.Companies who have aligned all its departments in order are supposed to produce the best results.
For a business, if the salesperson or the whole sales team become more knowledgeable about the concept of marketing and learns to analyse the markets with accurate estimates, they will surely understand which channel to use to attract the best-fit prospects, and the business becomes more and more popular in its environment. By this, the sales cycle should be on a cut-down.
For the growth of the business, the value of sales should increase. The number of deals per month, the average length of conversations with the prospects must increase, not too much for it to get frustrating, but an adequate amount of time is necessary. Keeping all of these perspectives in mind, your business tends to grow and create more and more opportunities for sales.
Regardless of some blind spots in the way, the business can still run well, if the sales team and the company are aware of the potential threats. The whole game is to diagnose the problem or the blind spot. Once the blind spots are identified, then the salesperson can work to overcome those weaknesses and go back in the process, and this time, stronger than before, generating a good number of opportunities to finish becoming potential customers for the business.