Perfecting pipeline management to boost B2B sales
Today’s B2B sales and marketing environment is challenging and a sustainable flow of sales is vital for success. To achieve this, the sales pipeline must be robust, measurable and transparent. Here’s how you can get that.
Sales pipelines can provide an abundance of useful insights when they’re managed effectively and where information is shared between sales and marketing teams. It helps you answer questions like:
- Which sales and marketing activities are having the most impact?
- How many leads are sales reps able to convert in a specific timeframe?
- How close are they to achieving their quotas?
A collaborative approach to pipeline management can provide insight into all of these questions, yet 56% of managers state their effectiveness in managing pipelines is poor or neutral.
Here’s some actionable pipeline management tips to enable B2B sales and marketing teams to optimise the lead generation, qualification, and nurturing processes, ultimately boosting sales success.
Valuable leads must come first
Adopting a data-driven approach to pipeline management is crucial. Using the right metrics to score and qualify leads intelligently will allow businesses to efficiently prioritise prospects. Sales and marketing teams need to be aligned on these metrics to ensure prospect engagement is timely and relevant. Developing an ICP can then be used to rate leads, while demographic and behavioural information should be used to help teams to prioritise those prospects that are most likely to convert and deliver maximum value.
To streamline the sales pipeline further, both sales and marketing teams need to agree on what constitutes a dead lead, and when it should be dropped or handed back to marketing. Isolating unresponsive leads and removing them from the pipeline is made simple with sales data and metrics. In doing so, the marketing team can meet the needs of leads that require further nurturing, whilst sales reps have more time to focus on prospects that are ready to engage.
Evaluate and evolve processes
It’s important for sales and marketing leaders to regularly review processes together so that the sales pipeline can be modified to meet the changing needs of leads throughout the cycle.
Using marketing automation and web analytics, sales teams can mark the key stages of the buyer’s journey. Scrutinising sales and customer data will then allow teams to pinpoint inefficiencies that may cause missed opportunities. A closer look at communication touchpoints can highlight where engagement is lacking, which offers important insights for both marketing and sales.
Persistence remains a key part of closing deals and using a multi-channel approach will prove most effective when following up on high-quality leads. Finally, a win-loss analysis will provide useful learnings that can fine-tune the process for future deals.
As many businesses will have experienced, extended sales timelines can result in some deals taking months to close. However, longer sales cycles also increase the likelihood that prospects may be approached by a competitor or back out of the deal.
This can be condensed by constantly reviewing core activities at every stage: How effective is each activity? Can unnecessary steps be eliminated?
Close alignment between sales and marketing in this regard is vital in maximising the impact of each team. The sales cycle can be streamlined by exchanging ideas and agreeing strategies, and working collaboratively to benchmark performance.
Build a clearer picture with CRM
Pipeline management tools play a vital role in tracking leads and prioritising follow-ups. CRM systems provide visibility of where each opportunity or lead sits in the sales pipeline as well as how it got there.
With a 360-degree view of each prospect from their first engagement all the way through the customer life cycle, a CRM system offers B2B businesses a wealth of knowledge on how leads progress through to close. By identifying the most effective activities, the sales and marketing process can be continually improved upon.
Want to learn more about boosting your sales?
Why not check out Propolis, our exclusive community for B2B marketers to share insights, learn from industry leading marketers, and access our best content. Propolis includes eight Hives (group) to tackle your marketing problems through expert advice, including one dedicated to Data Strategy, Insight and Intelligence.