5 WAYS TO ADD VELOCITY TO YOUR SALES PIPELINE
Your Business Development team have worked hard to get those leads into your pipeline. Now it's time to speed up your sales pipeline with some high velocity to grow faster and better.
Most businesses are really good at focusing on lead generation, however, this effort still needs to be capitalised upon throughout the sales pipeline stages. Those leads need to be converted and converted quickly! So, how do you add velocity to your sales pipeline?
What is sales velocity?
Sales velocity is the specific focus on how fast sales deals move through your sales pipeline stages to generate sales revenue. The key elements of the sales velocity equation cover:
The number of opportunities: The key ingredient here is qualified opportunities. Move on quickly from bad leads!
- Close rate: Improving your close rate is a factor of quality leads and how well you are nurturing them
- Deal size: Do you really understand your prospect's needs? Have you established trust? Get these factors right and deal size takes care of itself.
- Sales cycle length: Focusing on your sales processes and automation will shorten your sales cycle.
Improving one or more of these metrics will increase your sales velocity and sales revenue!
The Sales Velocity Equation
Sales velocity is a great framework to review your sales team on and the channels that they work in. It provides a common language and evaluation criteria. You can add sales velocity to your sales pipeline through lead scoring, truly knowing your buyer persona’s needs and by establishing a relationship through lead nurturing. To close pipeline sales with greater velocity, you need to focus on each stage of your sales pipeline, finding ways to customise and automate in order to save time and increase the relevancy of your sales offer and therefore the velocity of sales.
5 ways to add velocity to your sales pipeline
- Score your leads
Evaluating the quality of your leads as they come in will help speed up your sales pipeline. In an ideal situation your lead should have an immediate need for your product or service and have the authority to make a decision. Only then is it a qualified, high-scoring lead for entry into your CRM sales pipeline.
However, spending time on leads isn’t enough to accelerate the sales pipeline. You need to spend your time with the right leads. That way, you avoid wasting time in your sales pipeline with deals that aren’t ready or are of poor quality. Putting your time into these qualified leads will also increase your forecasting accuracy.
- Nurture ‘not ready’ leads
Don’t fill up your pipeline with 'not ready' leads. Classifying these ‘not ready' leads into a separate list of those who we don’t expect to purchase in the foreseeable future is a smart idea. They should be seen as leads that need to be nurtured. This adds velocity to pipeline sales because it allows sales teams to focus on the well-qualified leads.
SalesForce studies have found that 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales. This can have the impact of slowing down the sales process because sales pipeline tracking is difficult when unqualified leads are entered into the CRM. The same study also showed that only 27% of those B2B leads would actually be qualified. So don’t despair if not every lead is a quality lead because if you employ lead nurturing, you'll generate an incremental 20% in additional sales opportunities.
- Define your Sales Process
Early in the sales process, your business should identify potential pain points, obstacles that may prevent sales. The above SalesForce research also showed that companies with a defined sales process experience 18% more revenue than companies with an informal sales process. Being customer centric, your sales process should mirror your buyers process with every step in the sales process representing an incremental commitment.
In order to specify a good sales process, sales leaders need to commit the time to discuss the pipeline with their team. They should also work with marketing to ensure the buyer’s journey is part of the sales process. Additionally, it’s a great idea to get the buy in from the sales team with mutually agreed definitions of lead status within the sales process e.g. ‘Not yet qualified’, ‘Contact now’, ‘’Nurture’, ‘Poor Fit’ and so on.
- Use a CRM to ‘coach’ your Sales Pipeline
Along with a well-defined sales process, sales leaders need to coach each stage of the sales pipeline. This management activity is more than simply looking at daily or weekly reports. Sales pipeline management is looking at the sales pipeline and collaborating with sales team members to ask ‘what can we do differently today, at each stage to win more deals?’
Both sales leaders and sales teams should understand that sales pipeline management is more than simply tracking numbers. While sales CRM can track your pipeline by producing reports, sales leaders should be coaching sales team members in how to drill down into the numbers to see where their actions can accelerate the sales cycle. CRM software gives managers easy access to the data necessary to coach teams and manage the pipeline.
- Automate the ‘process stuff’
Time is the most precious commodity a sales team has in generating value for any business. So sales teams should be focusing on where they can add value by managing their time better.
By looking at the various stages of the CRM pipeline and deciding which tasks can be automated is a great way to buy back non-value adding time. Automating sales activities, such as executing a pre-determined sequence of emails based on a buyer journey, may be a time saving automation to consider. This will help in both lead scoring and in improving the sales process, ensuring that leads are not ignored or forgotten.
When automating lead nurturing activities such as email campaigns and follow-ups, sales reps have shown a 14.5% increase in sales productivity, according to HubSpot. Sales teams can therefore spend more time concentrating on more face time with their with well-qualified leads.
The starting point is to identify and work to a defined sales process. This will ensure better sales leadership, better coached teams and greater velocity within your sales pipeline.
We encourage you to use the tips mentioned above to add velocity to your sales pipeline and considering that a study by Harvard University estimated that over 25% of B2B sales cycles take 7 months or longer to close, it will be time well spent. So if your process is taking too long, then continue to fine tune and improve your sales velocity elements to grow your sales faster and better.