Category: pipeline management

Pipeline Management: Staying Organized

sales pipeline managmentThe trick to managing your pipeline with less stress is simply staying organized. It is true, pipeline management can be easy and even enjoyable. We typically get a reaction of fear and stress when we mention pipeline and management in the same sentence. Did you know you feel fear and stress when you are unprepared?  So, let’s show you how to be better prepared with your pipeline.

These 5 tips come from years of coaching sales reps and sales leaders.  Phenomenal things happen if you embrace them all, but it is okay to start with one or two.

Update and Research

  1. Keep your CRM up to Date: Seriously, enter your calls, fill in those “Notes” fields, follow your team’s best practices and don’t be lazy.  Your CRM is a system of record for not only your activity, but your incentive compensation.  It also helps analysts to analyze the customer journey, create insights, and help you sell more efficiently. Don’t be a lazy whiner at the end of the quarter!
  2. Keep Your Own Black Book of Business: Yep, a black book! While the CRM is the official record is in your CRM, each successful sales professional we have worked with had a black book. They use it for their thoughts, additional notes about leads and deals, and they record ideas. A black book is a great place to free the mind. You can also record your thoughts on your pipeline, leads, deals, and even your sales manager’s birthday!
  3. Know Your KPIs:  Every rep has a set of KPIs which they must know.  From sales cycle length to average deal size to win rate, these are a few of the numbers you MUST know. Track them every quarter.  Oh yeah, do you know what your current attainment to goal is for this quarter and year-to-date?  If not, find out NOW.  Know your numbers.

Create Your Plans

  1. Create a Plan A, but also Plan B, and Plan C: Your black book is the perfect place to record your plans.  The plan includes your quota and other targets, your KPIs (you know them now?), and a list of your top 20 deals in the pipeline.  With this information create a plan and know which accounts make up your quota number. This is plan A.  B is a hypothetical plan, where you ask, “what happens when my top deal drops out and I need $XX in two weeks or I am screwed”.  So B is a list of accounts you can close in the remaining time. Likewise, C is another hypothetical plan to cover your butt. But don’t forget the leads you must work and the accounts which will be adding new deals to the pipeline.  Consider both ends of the funnel in your plan.
  2. Review your Plan Daily, Adjust Weekly: All the best plans are worthless if we left them in the car or the dog ate them for breakfast.  Our final tip is to make sure you review your plan and your black book DAILY! While the plan will not change daily, you must make sure your plan is valid every week!! Sit down with a glass of wine or a beer and make sure your review your KPIs, the status of each deal you are counting and who your promising new leads are.  KNOW IT because your VP or CRO might stop you in the hallway and ask.  Never say “I don’t know” to a VP.

There you have it! 5 tips on staying organized and reducing stress while managing your pipeline.   When you go to work tomorrow, look your fellow sales reps in the eyes and see if you can see stress.  If you do, notice if they are organized and/or have their own black book.  You might be surprised at what you see.

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Getting Started with Pipeline Management

pipeline management the easy wayHitting your quota number at the end of the quarter is all about how you manage your pipeline.  This post is to give you an understanding of how KPIs play into pipeline management.

Know Thy Territory

First, understand your territory and the quality of your accounts.  Start by putting your accounts into three categories: A, B and C.  A’s are prime accounts, whereas C accounts are not likely to buy/engage.  Account scoring is a topic we will cover in another post. You also might be interested in our “Customer Scoring” course once it is released.

Analytics of Pipeline Management

Beyond knowing your quota number and who is in your territory, there are a few key performance indicators (KPIs) you need to track to help make more sense of your quota number and your pipeline.  These include individual sales rep metrics include:

  • Average Deal Size
  • Average Sales Cycle (SQL to Close – depends on playbook)
  • Lead Conversion Rate
  • Average Close Rate

Using these four KPIs and doing your own calculations, you can break down your quota number into something that makes a lot more sense. “Do the math” as we say and your quota number is a template for opportunities where you plug in your accounts.  The math tells you how many deals you need.

As a sales analyst, it was interesting to see which reps looked stressed when they saw their quota for the first time versus the reps who were calm, cool and collected.

We are not going to walk you through the actual math in this post (I know, sorry, but this post is teaser), but we will give you this quick tip:

  • Saalun Quick Tip: About half of your quota number should already be nearing close in your pipeline as you start the quarter.

Early Preview

Knowing the who’s who of your territory and doing a little math behind your number makes pipeline management a breeze.  Of course you have to build relationships and sell, but knowing the math is a huge step ahead.

As we get started, we encourage everyone to signup for our early preview mailing list.  Saalun will be offering more info as our courses are ready to launch and discounts on memberships. Join here.