What is the pipeline in sales
Power in sales through the sales pipeline
Sales phasesThe sales phases can be broken down schematically as follows:
|phase||Activities (examples)||Is the addressee||document|
|Identification phase||Potential buyers are identified through web registrations, trade fair activities, address procurement, market segmentation, email marketing and the like.||Lead||Selling opportunity|
|Qualification phase||Assess needs, qualify lead (e.g. according to BANT, i.e. budget, authority, need, time), does the product suit the customer?|
|Presentation phase||Identify decision-makers, make appointments, precisely determine requirements, advise (“Trusted Advisor”), coordinate and present products as required.||Interested party||offer|
|Offer phase||Prepare offer, negotiate conditions, submit offer, renegotiate, adjust offer, price negotiations.|
|Final phase||Obtain verbal confirmation, make final adjustments, conclude a contract||customer||assignment|
|Post sales||Record signals from the customer, follow-up support, generate follow-up orders||customer||assignment|
Metrics in the sales pipelineIn order for the sales pipeline to become a control instrument, certain parameters have to be measured. In this way, the sales organization can create targeted evaluations and optimize sales planning:
- In numbers, e.g. B. How many acquisitions are currently in the pipeline or in phase X?
- In money, e.g. B. What is the value of a potential contract?
- In percent, e.g. B. What percentage of the sales opportunities lead to a deal?
- In time, e.g. B. How long is the average length of stay in one of the phases or in the entire funnel until it is closed?
Optimization of sales processesFor example, if there is a traffic jam in the offer phase, the offers may not have been properly worked out. If the average order value falls, sales control can focus on price enforcement. If a follow-up activity produces better results than another, prioritize it higher. And finally: if the graduation rate increases, this is confirmation of the course we have chosen. In the ideal case, the sales control can ensure a steady and growing order intake by skillfully operating the possible adjusting screws. In any case, it is important that the meaning of the measures is clear to every sales employee. Compliance with the developed sales processes is the be-all and end-all for the success of your business.
Pipeline management softwareMany salespeople hesitate to implement a process because they fear being bullied and - in their eyes - having to do pointless additional work. It doesn't have to be. Modern software solutions are so flexible that they can map almost every sales process and support the seller instead of hindering him. In addition, they provide valuable evaluations in order to further optimize the sales organization.
Map the sales pipeline in softwareAn entrepreneur friend of mine has a history marketing agency. The target group are traditional medium-sized companies. The sales process often takes several months. Potential leads are addressed individually. It soon becomes clear whether there is a need, a budget and an interest on the part of the owner. This information flows into the lead evaluation. High-scoring leads are given priority. Experience has also shown that the first interview is around 20 percent likely to be completed, 60 percent for the second and 80 percent for the third. The activities, responsibilities, sequence of activities and the associated opportunities and risks are mapped in standard software and regularly checked. This shortens the lead time through the sales phases, as no steps are overlooked and the responsibilities of the employees are clear. Campaigns and other lead generation activities can be automated. All sales activities are traceable and verifiable - and they are documented in the software.
User-friendly and time-savingOnce the sales pipeline process has been implemented in the sales software, the few entries are made in no time at all. On the other hand, much more time is saved because searches, a lack of coordination, unstructured working methods and the pursuit of unprofitable sales projects are a thing of the past. Last but not least: Guard rails are necessary in order to work consistently and to avoid detours. In addition, sales software takes care of transparency and at the push of a button produces differentiated reports and analyzes for which you previously had to collect numbers for days and program Excel tables. The software-supported documentation of the sales processes ensures that all relevant information is stored in one place and is accessible at all times. Double entry and information gaps are a thing of the past. With mobile devices, the field service can log conversations, create evaluations, upload documents and delegate tasks to the office staff - regardless of location and in real time. Ideally, the pipeline management is embedded in the entire company software in such a way that the entire main process in the company can be mapped from contact management to the preparation of offers and orders to billing.
Always stay mobileMarkets, metrics and methods change over time. Sales managers know about this continuous change. You monitor changes closely, install a functioning sales controlling system and create realistic forecasts. Good managers welcome change as an opportunity, lead their team proactively and are always ready to readjust their instruments.
ConclusionA structured sales process can make a sales organization much more successful. Every company should document and optimize its sales pipeline and implement it in configurable sales software. This makes the process leaner, more efficient and more consistent. Through evaluations in the various sales phases, the sales organization can concentrate on the worthwhile approaches and bring them to a close in a focused manner.
Dorothea Heymann-Reder writes blog posts, advice articles and white papers. Her specialist articles deal with commercial and business issues as well as the entire spectrum of digitization.
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