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Your sales pipeline is essential to success. It dictates your current sales activity, outlining the stages each lead journeys through to become a valuable, loyal client. However, 63% of B2B organizations believe their sales pipelines are badly managed and many are unsure how to identify and improve upon their current pipeline condition. Pipeline management in B2B sales is key to securing the results needed to drive business growth and revenue security. With such a high number of organizations confused about how best to optimize this essential process, it might be time to review your own sales pipeline and ask if you can do more. Learn how to ensure sales pipeline health and longevity with these best practices, revolutionizing your sales approach to secure winning results.
1) Focus on pipeline metrics
To effectively manage your sales pipeline, it’s important to remember how active this valuable process is. A sales pipeline is always changing. This means you need to make a habit of consistently tracking and analyzing your pipeline metrics. These figures include the number of leads currently working through your pipeline, your average order size, your close rate and average customer lifetime value. There are plenty of pipeline metrics to measure, each one offering a different piece of beneficial insight to help boost future strategies. Take time to select the pipeline metrics most relevant to your business goals and gather these numbers at least once a week. This metric analysis helps you identify trends and patterns in current lead behaviors, gaining a deeper understanding of your buyer journey and your continued pipeline health.
2) Prioritize your best leads
Whilst it’s important to maximize every opportunity for maximum sales success, lead prioritization is key. If your team is provided an opportunity to make a speedy, valuable sale, they need to grab the bull by the horns and run with it. Your pipeline will suffer if advanced opportunities are side-lined to ensure each lead is treated “fairly”. Your most engaged leads will feel rebuffed and withdraw from your pipeline, so your team is deprived of a highly valuable opportunity. Use lead scoring to efficiently recognize which leads are sales-ready, and help your team prioritize their pipeline. Lead scoring provides insight into which opportunities are most engaged with your brand, best align with buyer criteria and offer the highest amount of possible value. With this information, your team can quickly contact and convert their best leads before shifting focus back to the wider pipeline.
3) Know when to let go
Equally, it’s important to remove leads from your pipeline when they no longer offer the possibility of value. It is common for sales pipelines to become unhealthy through carrying an extensive number of stagnating leads, clogging up sales processes and confusing team members. It can be easy to feel sentimental towards an opportunity, especially if you’ve spent weeks, even months guiding it down a path of gentle nurture. But once a lead has decided they’re not interested (whether they’ve directly informed you, or not), there’s no benefit in continuing to contact them. Regularly cleanse your pipeline, ensuring any leads that have been unresponsive for at least three months are removed from your active pipeline records. Should you wish to keep documentation of lapsed lead information for future prospecting, be sure this is stored separately from active lead records to avoid pipeline confusions.
4) Remember to follow-up
The modern buyer has evolved for many reasons. As the online world enables potential buyers to conduct a large amount of research, our prospects are seamlessly provided a variety of choices and options they would previously have struggled to discover. Where a sale could be closed in just four calls a decade ago, it now takes at least eight. To combat this common challenge, follow-up communications have become fundamentally important. Telecommunication continues to shine as the preferred method of sales contact for teams and prospects alike, but using additional channels of communication such as email and social media to prolong brand engagement can make or break a sale. Carefully strategize follow-up communications and use your CRM to set up team reminders, to ensure that this is kept on top of. This establishes a consistent stream of pipeline movement and activity, preventing lead stagnation for increased sales success.
5) Keep it short
27% of salespeople believe a long sales cycle is one of the biggest barriers to success, as buyers become disengaged with your brand, distracted by pressing business priorities and swayed by alternative solutions. A healthy sales pipeline is a short sales pipeline, optimized to move leads quickly through essential steps that meet their buyer journey needs and help them make a purchasing decision. Look at your current pipeline processes and ask if they’re all necessary to secure buyer journey completion. Shortening your sales cycle doesn’t mean making all eight calls required to close a sale within the same week; it’s about understanding which areas of your pipeline fail to maintain lead momentum. A shortening of sales pipeline could include the elimination of some procedures or the reduction of time between specific communications, all helping your prospects understand the value of your product and select a solution in a reduced amount of time. Remember- don’t sacrifice a lead’s value for a quick sale. Strike a balance between a short but effective sales cycle.
6) Review and improve your pipeline
As we’ve mentioned above, your pipeline is alive, constantly changing and evolving. This aligns with the world of business in many ways; the strategies and processes currently producing your best results won’t work forever. The needs and preferences of your buyers will change, and the technologies available will continue to advance- the business world is evolving, and your pipeline needs to evolve with it. With this in mind, you need to constantly review your pipeline, deeply analyzing the metrics gained over time to pinpoint pipeline successes and weaknesses. This knowledge is power, helping you turn data into action, making impactful pipeline improvements to ensure this valuable sales asset continues to deliver the required business results. Aim to review and improve your pipeline at least once per quarter to be sure it’s up to date with buyer requirements. Neglecting to undertake this process can cause your pipeline to fail in boosting results whilst leading to adoption problems further down the line. A lack of regular improvement can cause your pipeline to become heavily out of date, meaning you’ll need to undergo substantial changes to rectify areas of concern. These weighty changes will have a heavier effect on your team, who may struggle to adjust processes already so well established and embrace effective change.
7) Fuel prospects with content
It’s known that aligning sales and marketing processes can improve results by 67% for both departments, and content is a huge contributor to that boost in success. Keeping each prospect well informed with branded content can significantly boost your sales speed and improve average order value. Our buyers conduct extensive research when making a purchasing decision, so the more content you provide, the quicker they’ll arrive at that essential verdict. Content assets are fuelled with information that answers potential buyer questions and positions your brand and product as industry leaders. Those nurtured with insightful content spend 47% more on your products and make a purchase in record time. Content also gives you back some control, helping orchestrate what information potential buyers interact with and learn from. If you notice your pipeline is starting to stagnate, content can be the kick-start needed to reignite lead interest and drive them ever closer to the sale.
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