You and your Marketing and New Business Development team have worked hard to get those prospective sales into your pipeline.
However, the pipeline means little if they don’t convert and convert quickly! So, how do you increase the flow of the pipeline?
You can accelerate the pipeline through lead scoring, knowing your buyer persona’s interests and pain points and establish a relationship through lead nurturing. Most people understand what you need to do but not always how to do it. To close pipeline sales faster, you need to speed up the sales process by focusing on each stage of your sales pipeline, finding ways to customise and automate in order to save time and increase the speed of sales.
- Score your leads
Evaluating your leads as they come in will help speed up your sales pipeline. If a lead has an immediate need for your product or service, has the authority to make a decision then it’s a qualified, high-scoring lead for entry into CRM pipeline immediately.
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 a poor quality. Putting your time into these qualified leads that will also increase your forecasting accuracy.
- Nurture ‘not ready’ leads
Don’t fill up your pipeline with not ready leads. Classifying these ‘not ready’s’ 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 speeds up the 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 has 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 lead nurturing produces 20% more 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 research also shows 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 and every step in the sales process should represent 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 so you can ‘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, users have shown a 14.5% increase in sales productivity. Sales teams can therefore spend more time concentrating on more face time with their with well-qualified leads.
Accelerating the sales pipeline process is about knowing which leads to enter in the pipeline and which leads to nurture. Accelerating the sales process is also about defining your company’s sales process, coaching teams, and managing the pipeline.
You can use the tips mentioned above to improve and speed up your sales process and considering that a study by Harvard University estimated that over 25% of sales cycles take 7 months or longer to close, it will be time well spent. In summary, it’s all about the process. If the process is taking too long, then continue to fine tune and improve the cycle to get to your optimal sales productivity outcomes.