Effective Pipeline Management – Part One in a Series
I recently read an on-line article in HBR about taking the guesswork out of sales forecasts. The article focused on the sales management or CRM ’tool’ to bring greater objectivity to the pipeline management process.
Tools definitely help, but tools in and of themselves will not lead to increased sales. However, when you integrate a sales tool with proven sales techniques including an end-to-end sales management process, sales will increase and reporting and forecasting accuracy will improve.
In addition to securing a CRM or sales management tool, companies should implement activity-based definitions and metrics to improve their overall sales effectiveness. In order to progress an opportunity from suspect to prospect to closing, numerous activities need to occur. These activities build off each other and should be pre-defined for each stage of the sales cycle. They also form the basis of a relationship and create a ‘dance’ between the seller and the proposed buyer. If either party bypasses critical steps or activities in the sales cycle, it is highly likely that the opportunity will stall.
A tool can tell you what stage a deal in the pipeline stalled, but it will not be able to tell you why. After you implement your sales tool, take the additional steps and integrate activity-based definitions and metrics into your sales management process. You will immediately become a more effective sales organization!