How to Slim Down your Pipeline

Is bigger always better? Not when it comes to your pipeline! A leaner and meaner pipeline actually increases the efficiency of your sales efforts, conversion rate and bottom line. But why this is true and how can you put your pipeline on a diet?

Getting to the Root Cause

If you're struggling to keep conversion rates where you want, or it takes far more prospects to result in just one sale, you may think you need to beef up your sales funnel so that more sales can slide through. Not the case. Possibly because you are dealing with other problems, like:

  • Inefficient sales processes.
  • Leads are not appropriately qualified or disqualified through the sales cycle.
  • You lack conversion tactics.

Instead of a bigger pipeline, you need a higher quality pipeline. You need early stage prospects who are more likely to become customers. So how do you make that happen?

Utilize Your CRM

Can you believe many business owners and sales managers still don't use a CRM system? Whether it's fear of the technology, a cost vs. perceived ROI hold up or reluctance to change – it’s holding businesses back. Competitors have and use the advantage of modern sales tools, why stay behind? Plus, cost is no longer an excuse. There are many great low-cost CRM systems built for small to mid-sized companies. 

Innovo has helped clients implement multiple CRMs from many different vendors. These include highly customized CRMs such as SalesForce and Sugar, to off-the-shelf web-based CRMs provided by PipeDrive and HubSpot. In the end, deciding on which CRM to use is not about the technology. It’s only about two things: increasing sales and decreasing sales cycle times.  

Be More Perceptive with Prospects in the Pipeline

If you are a CEO, Business Owner or Sales Manager, have you ever asked yourself why your Sales People add so many opportunities to their pipeline that have such a small chance of closing?

Perhaps it’s because this is what you ask them about at every meeting. When you only inquire about the new opportunities and the size of their pipeline, you are communicating to them that the pipeline size matters more than the pipeline quality. So then it should come as no surprise that the typical sales mindset is to add more prospects to the top of the sales funnel to lead to more opportunities for an eventual sale. But nurturing prospects throughout the sales cycle takes time and energy.  And with low conversion rates, this is wasted effort.

What if you could quickly determine which prospects are worth the work, and determine it early in the sales cycle? You can, it just means your Sales People need to do a better job of asking better questions to determine if the prospect should be moved forward in the funnel, backward or out of the funnel altogether. The CRM will also help by analyzing past results and real-time data.

Another trick: ask the right questions and actively listen to the prospect’s answers. This will help the salesperson quickly determine the necessary effort to convert the prospect into a customer. Although this new mindset likely requires a shift from the "always be closing" approach to a “ditch the pitch” style. Real conversations build real relationships.

Stylize Your Sales Process

Businesses do things the same way because that's how they've always been done. But when the competition is more flexible and reactive to the needs of the marketplace, those businesses get left behind. Sales is complicated. That’s why a well-crafted, and actually utilized, CRM can help. Then changing the mindset from sell-first-listen-later can help continually qualify prospects in the funnel. In the end, your sales process will probably need to be reviewed and revised to fit the ever-changing marketplace and sales environment in which you operate.

It’s on the Sales Managers to facilitate the change. They may need to ride along with salespeople, ask questions, and engage directly with prospects and customers at different stages in the sales cycle. They may need to meet one-on-one with sales team members rather than meeting with the team. This is how necessary changes can be implemented to make the sales process more relevant and efficient.

A Quality Pipeline Over Quantity of Prospects

At Innovo, we know that sales efficiency matters. And when it comes to pipelines, bigger is not necessarily better. Innovo helps businesses develop and nurture leaner, higher quality pipelines every day. We help them customize and implement CRM systems perfectly suited to their markets and sales environments. We help them analyze, implement and manage more effective sales processes that require fewer prospects to generate more sales. Of course, before we do these things for our clients, we listen and have meaningful conversations.

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