As discussed in many sales forums, articles and blogs these days (including our recent articles), pipeline management—also known as the sales process—is vital to sales and company expansion. Laying out the separate steps of the sales process and making sure they are followed is the only way of bringing control to sales, both for the salespeople and sales management.
If played right, pipeline management is also a self-sustaining success.
Pipeline Management: A Real-World Example
From the CSO Insights Sales Management Optimization 2013 Key Trends Analysis comes a true story that clearly illustrates how effective pipeline management can lead to ever-increasing sales success.
A particular company that processes insurance claims for physicians, as part of their opportunity management process, required salespeople to note each tactic utilized at each step of the sales cycle, right in the CRM database. Over a period of years, this practice resulted in a wealth of valuable data, and someone finally had the bright idea of mining the data and analyzing it.
That analysis isolated several highly successful tactics. For example, a salesperson would offer to conduct an audit of the prospect’s current insurance claims processing costs. It was found that, in deals that had closed, the prospect had taken advantage of the audit offer twice as often as in deals that didn’t close and were lost.
This is a very good example of using sales pipeline management to clearly isolate successful sales methods. Once such methods are discovered, they can be put to use by the entire sales force and result in higher profit and attained company goals.
Company sales organizations are constantly on the lookout for great sources of sales leads. They may be ignoring one that is sitting right before them: their very own pipelines.
One method of utilizing pipeline management for sales leads is to conduct an analysis, within the pipeline, of the deals that have closed. Examine the types of companies, the industries, the buying patterns. It then becomes a matter of seeking out similar companies within that industry, territory, etc. and cultivating them as priority leads.
Another method, long in use with successful salespeople, is “prospecting at the close.” Make it a step of your sales process to ask, after the sale is closed and after the prospect has become a satisfied customer (important), who else should be using your product or service. Funnel the leads so obtained right back into the sales pipeline so they can be worked.
Since “word of mouth” is the most powerful type of lead a company can obtain (per countless analyses of leads through the years) it is also very advantageous to obtain permission from your customer to use their name when contacting the leads they have given you. Or, if at all possible, coax your customer to email or call the lead before you do with their recommendation of your product or service.
CRM Behind the Success
These are all great methods of utilizing the sales process itself to generate future sales—but none of them are possible without a CRM tool that easily allows them. Make sure your company has chosen a CRM software application that is flexible, intuitive, and has the tools for quick analyses. The time and money spent on the right CRM is well worth it, as it will pay for itself many times over.
Correct and cleverly used pipeline management can be a self-sustaining success. Put it to work in your company and leave the competition in the dust.
Stay tuned for more articles in this series on effective pipeline management.