This blog is a continuation of the sales metrics discussion from the previous post. We had discussed the metrics that should be tracked and this falls into the same category in terms of hitting and increasing revenue numbers. The ideas presented here are intended to help you to become a better sales manager.

 

Gauge your Sales Pipeline Health

 

It is important to be very familiar with your sales pipeline so that you can assess what is working well and what is not working.  Ideally, you want to be able to track the deals that are already in the pipeline and know what stage each deal is at.

If you have done this properly, you should be able to look at the pipeline and know if there are enough deals for each individual sales rep and for the collective team.  This means the sales pipeline should always be full of accounts that are actionable.  There has to be a good number of deals so that the revenue target is attainable but you also don’t want the pipeline full of leads that will be a waste of time.

A healthy sales pipeline allows you to see possible issues before they become a problem so that you can stay ahead of things.  Having a strong pipeline allows you to better manage the ups and downs of business and predict revenue so that you know what needs to be done to reach the target.  With a good sales pipeline, the revenue is predictable and this will help you manage the team in order for them to be the most effective and close the most deals.

 

Sales Pipeline Velocity

 

A healthy sales pipeline provides a way for you to determine where you are in terms of deals at any given time.  You need a way to master the pipeline so that you understand each individual piece and are able to predict the revenue.  In other words, you want to know the revenue for each individual rep, your team as a group, and the company as a whole.  This will aid in dividing up the sales territories and accounts in such a way that each sales rep has equal opportunity to be successful and earn bonuses.

In order for the pipeline to be effective, you need good quality data and any data that is inaccurate or not useful needs to be removed.  An effective, healthy, pipeline will indicate what stage each deal is in so that you can determine how fast the deal can be closed.  You will also use it to determine how much more qualified opportunities there are.

The sales pipeline also provides important information on the win rate, the deal sizes, and the length of the sales cycle.  You will need to use all of this information to assess where you are in terms of hitting the numbers you need.  Multiply the number of opportunities by the win rate and again by the deal size.  Divide that number by the sales cycle.  These four pieces of information give insight into where you are in the process.  The four components will tell you the speed at which the deals come through.

Keep in mind that the pipeline data needs to be accurate.  You need to determine what a qualified opportunity is and know the win rate of those opportunities.  With this information, you will know what it will take in order for the team to hit the number goal.  Remember to consider the size of the companies that you are dealing with as well.  A $10 000 deal may be big for a small company but it may be a small deal for a much larger company.

When you know how long it takes to close a deal you will be able to run the numbers to determine what needs to be done.

 

The Beauty of Pipeline Velocity

 

The nice thing is that if there is an issue in your pipeline that needs to be fixed, you are able to do it in small chunks rather than trying to do a complete overhaul all at once.  If there are problems, you can fix any one of the four components and see success.  Fixing even one thing will improve performance.

For example, if you have a pipeline meeting and find that there are not enough opportunities open, put more opportunities into the pipeline and you will see an improvement in sales.  When you increase the opportunities the pipeline velocity will go up and you have just eaten the elephant one bite at a time as opposed to trying to shove the whole thing in your mouth.

You do not need to change everything all at once to see a change so change one thing and move on to another after that.  You can also individualize the changes as each rep will have his or her own needs.  You can put a coaching plan together for Sally to improve her win rate while coaching Bill on shortening his average sales cycle.

Use the pipeline meeting to figure out how to get more opportunities into the pipeline and to determine the specific coaching needs of each rep.  Don’t forget to use your reps who are experts in an area to help out the rest of the team as well.  Look at the pipeline from a higher level so that you are able to customize things for the team and for individuals with specific needs.

The key is to keep the pipeline clean so that you can drive business.  Remove deals from the pipeline that are not worth chasing and spend time on the deals that you are more likely to win.  You want a lot of opportunities in the pipeline but not ones that are not likely to close.  There are multiple things you can do to manage the pipeline and make it better.

Do a little bit at a time to make improvements and you will see revenue growth.  You will be able to close more deals and there is a simple formula for managing the data in the pipeline – make sure the data is correct, take a bird’s eye view of the team, and make a plan for the team and individual coaching.
 

Keep Filling The Funnel

We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this episode. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a specific sales topic you would like me to cover.  You can find me on Twitter at @Sheajohnr or email me at jshea@alignment-group.com.  And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.

 

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