The approach to selling is based on the principles of the sales process known as the sales pipeline. A sales pipeline involves various steps that an individual salesperson should take to convert the potential customers to qualifying prospects, then to lead, and further take the lead into a sales opportunity. The process is then taken through different stages to be considered closed.
Below is the typical sales funnel:
- Cold Suspect
- Warm Lead
- Hot Deal
- Qualified Buyer
Sales are a continuous process that requires you to bring in the needed prospects and close customers again and again. It is a process that never ends, and keeping this process under control requires a proper sales pipeline which was defined a while ago. The most fundamental thing about a sales pipeline is that you need to prioritize the prospects.
In many cases, the companies that do not use a sales pipeline management end up failing in the recognition of the benefits that it provides or they are unaware of the ways in which they can shape their sales.
A sales pipeline distinguishes between a good sales team from a great one. It is quite painful to have the goals you set out for your sales team to be missed out.
Five problems prevent the development of a robust sales pipeline:
- Unrealistic Timelines
- Research that takes too much time
- Wastage of time in communicating with unqualified companies
- Email response rates being poor
- Follow ups with the prospects are inefficient
One of the major causes of the forecasting frustration in business is the overly aggressive close dates (unrealistic timelines) and the stalling of opportunities. If the sales management is entirely focused on the acquisition of accurate numbers, then it is not helping the sales reps in choosing the opportunities that might assist in uncovering the unpredicted customer problems. This impacts the accuracy of forecasts and the velocity of the pipeline. This can be due to the causes:
- Proposition of solution in the early stages of sales cycle
- Misunderstanding the customer
The solution for such timelines is quite a straightforward one. The sales management should be more focused at the front end of the sales pipeline, which is wide and the opportunities are numerous. Also, the leading indicators are the basis for a good pipeline management. These can be found in the early stages of the sales cycle with the help of good buyer analysis and questioning.
Almost 20% of the time is spent by the sales reps researching the prospects. To overcome such problem, the sales reps should be presented with a list of prospective customers that are beyond the basic demographics. This way the reps will lead towards revenue generation.
Your sales representatives most probably spend too much of their time on the businesses that are not even qualified. Nothing can be more wasteful for business than the sales reps spending time on the prospects that they will not be able to close. To overcome this, you should target the companies that are growing, as they have the budget. By providing your reps with the list of growing companies, you improve the closing rates and reduce the time wasted on the businesses that will never agree to the prices.
Sales reps are only able to get a 5% response rate on the email blasts. Cold emails, if utilized well, are a guaranteed way of opening up new opportunities. However, the response rate of these cold emails is very degrading. To make most of it, you should make batches and email the companies that have commonalities that would improve the response rate. You should send out the emails that resonate with the receiver. To do this, the companies should be segmented, and the commonalities should be determined.
In the least, only 2% of the cold calls are ever received, it is a losing battle for the sales. To avoid such a problem, the sales reps should make the cold calls with a profound knowledge about the company they contract with. This can be done easily in a few minutes by visiting the websites and by pulling out information about them.
Follow Up with Prospects
Most of the reps do not follow up with the prospective customers; almost 80% of the sales require that 5 or more follow-up interactions should be made. This is because the reps do not always have anything relevant to reach out to. To overcome this problem, you should provide the sales rep with information promptly so that they can do the follow ups more diligently.
In hope that this gives the clear overview of the most common sales pipeline problems and the fixes, if you recognize any of these problems, you now have the knowledge as to how you can optimize and predict your sales and revenues.