Effective pipeline management is at the foundation of any successful business. Unfortunately, the process is complicated and rife with challenges. 63% of executives say that their organizations are ineffective when it comes to managing sales pipelines. Improving funnel efficiency has been cited as the second most important sales priority (after closing more deals). In order to thrive, a business must have a strong pulse into its sales pipeline. Here are three ways to master the art of pipeline management:
1. Minimize Leaks
Like any type of pipe, a sales pipeline is subject to leaks. Especially in complex deals, passing a prospect from one stage to the next requires finesse and proper management of all the stakeholders involved. In order to maximize sales velocity, you need to develop strong relationships with prospects from the get-go and nurture them on a regular basis, without being an annoyance.
With the complexity of deals often involved in enterprise sales and strategic business development relationships, it’s easy to drop the ball and neglect to follow up with one of your many critical contacts at the right moment. Research shows a staggering 80% of leads are lost because companies fall out of contact. Communication cadence is key. Even short-term neglect can result in lost deals.
The most effective way to manage these valuable relationships is to keep close tabs on your last time of contact and set up reminders to check back in. Affinity facilitates this process by highlighting at-risk relationships, allowing you to create smart tags and notes for any person or company. Affinity also comes to the rescue by reminding you if you forget to reply to an important email or if someone important has failed to reply to you.
Preventing leakage not only maximizes your ROI, but it also enables you to improve pipeline forecasting accuracy. Only 46% of sales reps say their pipeline is accurate and dependable. By minimizing leakage, you gain better control of your pipeline and can more effectively predict how many leads will reach the end of the funnel.
2. Remove Manual Work
Sales professionals cite manual data entry as their top challenge when working with their CRM platform. Eliminating the need for manual data entry is beneficial for many reasons. First, it eliminates human error - a simple typo or spelling mistake can cause sales reps to lose contact with leads. Second, it ensures data completeness. With contact information living in so many places - CRMs, emails, calendars, spreadsheets, etc., it’s difficult to gain a holistic picture of a contact. Third, it maximizes productivity. Time saved avoiding manual data entry equates to more time spent selling and maximizing lead flow. Thanks to deep integration with email, calendar data, and other public sources, Affinity helps sales reps fill about 80% of their pipeline without any manual effort.
3. Keep The Tap Turned On
Introductions and warm referrals are key to generating new leads. 84% of B2B decision makers start the buying process with a referral. What’s more, B2B buyers are 5X more likely to engage when introduced via an introduction. Use Affinity to map out your network and pinpoint the people who can make critical introductions to new customers.
Pipeline management is a critical activity for businesses. But it’s difficult. Effective pipeline management will ensure you don’t have to call the plumber or pull out the plunger. Don’t let a slow or clogged pipeline drown your business. Affinity can act as a proactive plunger, ensuring you maximize the flow of your pipeline and keep it highly functional. With great sales pipeline management, forecasts are nailed, quotas are hit, and sales reps are much more productive.