Three Pipeline Management Best Practices

Pipeline is one of the greatest tools a sales leader has. Here are three helpful pipeline management best practices to set you and your team up for even greater success.

1.    Model and Reinforce the use of CRM

Managing to the pipeline is only as good as the data it contains and your team will only take it as serious as you do. Sharing a performance dashboard, in your weekly team meetings, is one way to instill accountability. Every salesperson wants to see their activity and results reflected accurately, especially when it’s shared with their peers.

Another way is to take the approach of, “if it isn’t in the system, it doesn’t exist.” This creates accountability for each salesperson to properly record their activity and opportunities in CRM.

Most importantly, sales leaders need to use CRM in their coaching to show that they are paying attention and the data matters. After all, if sales leaders aren’t using CRM, neither will their salespeople.

2.    Lead consistent pipeline reviews

Sales leaders set the tone and direction for an engaging meeting. A pipeline review is a powerful opportunity to check-in on your salesperson’s mindset, approach, activities and process to celebrate successes, support them through challenges and set them up for future success.

Consistency in the frequency and structure of pipeline reviews and your commitment to following up are critical to holding your team accountable to achieving sales results.

Pipeline reviews are not meant to review every opportunity line by line, but rather provide coaching on priorities and focus areas that will increase performance. The key to doing this in an impactful way is by asking questions and being curious. It’s important to remember that the pipeline is just one side of the equation, there’s also the story behind the data.

In shifting your meeting from a monologue of reporting information to an engaging dialogue, you’ll lead a productive and valuable conversation for yourself and your salesperson.

When done successfully, you’ll notice that your salespeople are more engaged in these meetings because they are getting value and seeing their performance improve as a result.

sales manager using pipeline management best practices3.    Pave a clear path to increased results

As a sales leader, the natural tendency is to focus on results. If the results aren’t there, the inclination is to have the team dial up their activity.

While it’s fair to say that activity levels can impact results, there is more to results than that. You may determine that the challenge for one salesperson is around focus; are they clear on who they should be calling and meeting with? Having a clear focus can range from the paying attention to the right industry or company size, right down to the seniority and role of the ideal buyer.

For another, the quality of the conversations may be leading to challenges. Ride-alongs provide a great opportunity to get a clearer view on quality and allows for specific, in-the-moment coaching and support.

Digging in to the story behind the results allows you to tailor your coaching to the individual salesperson. Not only will this add value to your salesperson, it should also increase the results over time.

Instilling accountability for tracking activity in CRM, leading productive, consistent and valuable pipeline reviews and providing specific, effective feedback and coaching will allow you to drive increased sales performance and revenue for your organization.

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