Okay, so if you are monitoring your salespeople’s pipelines, that's a start. Many sales managers focus on getting opportunities into the pipeline. This is also a start. If you want to be ultimately effective predicting closed deals and therefore revenue growth then you need to stop focusing on the pipeline value and focus on the pipeline velocity.
What I mean is that salespeople will typically behave in a manner that provides them reward and/or recognition. Many salespeople seek the approval and recognition of their managers. If you are focusing on patting people on the back for putting deals into the pipeline then that is what they will do. Their pipelines will become bloated and closed deals will not necessarily follow.
Certainly getting deals into the pipeline is a first step. But, you’ve got to have a process to help them manage the deal once it gets into the pipeline. I would suggest three simple rules:
Do the math
Get your folks to do the math associated with how many appointments, conversations and/or meetings they need to have each week to get the requisite number of deals into the pipeline to insure sales success. This obviously requires that you and they understand the closing ratios associated with your business and each individual salesperson.
Focus on pipeline movement
Have them focus on moving a certain number of deals each day. Question them regarding what deals they are going to focus on to move each week. The number that needs to move to the next stage each week or day will depend on your individual business. If the pipeline is getting thick, then declare a “Move It or Blow It Up Day”. Require every salesperson to focus on each deal in the pipeline and move it or blow it up. Remove dead wood from the pipeline.
Fluffy pipelines make salespeople complacent, as they believe they have plenty of deals in the pipeline. Deals that hang around and hang around with no movement are sales killers. They give the salesperson a false sense of security so they are less inclined to go get new deals.
Every deal needs a next step
Be a stickler about it, every deal must have an agreed to next step. The key is that it must be agreed to by the customer or prospect, not just a plan by the salesperson. What I mean is that for every single deal there needs to be a date and time for a follow up appointment or some agreed to activity, with specifics, for each deal. Just simply ask each salesperson each week what the agreed to next step is for each deal in their pipeline.
If you can get them in the habit of having this agreed to next step, your pipeline will show good velocity, more deals will close more quickly and everybody will make more money.
Gretchen Gordon is the founder of Braveheart Sales Performance, a consulting firm specializing in sales team transformation. A self-proclaimed “Sales Nerd” with over 27 years of sales, sales leadership and sales team transformation experience, she spends most of her time working directly with client companies and helping them improve their sales effectiveness and exceed their sales goals. Gretchen is also a frequent guest speaker for industry events and webcasts, and has been featured on the radio talk shows “Meet the Sales Experts” and "Sales Coaching over Coffee." She is also an accomplished writer, having been featured on industry-leading sites like SellingPower.com and SecurityInfoWatch.com. She authors a “Top 50 Sales Management Blog,” according to Docurated.com, and has published sales-focused eBooks, including “The 5 Essentials of Effective Sales Management” and “Cold Calling in the 21st Century.”