By Ashley Wilson
Building a productive sales pipeline is the secret to consistent sales performance. You should be providing actionable leads at each stage of the sales cycle. This should be a manageable number of contacts so your team can focus on the most promising opportunities.
The essential element in maintaining healthy pipelines is integrating sales data that can track activity and suggest improvements. While there are always seasonal, economic, and social trends that impact business, here are some suggestions for sustaining healthy sales performance.
1. Don’t Forget to Focus On Visitor Experience
Your business invests a lot of time into marketing, whether it’s social media or advertising. Whatever channel you use to draw traffic, it’s your website content that has to make the sale. If you don’t provide a good user experience (UX), you’re losing sales.
Slow, confusing, or malfunctioning web pages will discourage visitors. Your landing pages must be designed to encourage further action, whether it’s moving on to helpful information or downloading a digital coupon. The information must be easy to follow, without walls of text or distracting fonts or graphics.
The elements to providing a good UX include attractive layouts, reliable functionality, fast load times, and mobile friendly pages. The site must also support your sales funnel, with landing pages, informational sources, and links to your contact channels, such as social media buttons or click-to-chat features.
Every visitor that finds a satisfactory UX is more likely to buy. Provide a channel to your sales team so that visitors can ask questions and your representatives have the opportunity to close the deal.
2. You Need Prospects at Each Stage
Each stage of the pipeline must align with the prospect’s sales journey. This normally consists of the following steps:
- Awareness – The prospect recognizes a need, such as a value opportunity or solutions for a problem.
- Consideration – The prospect evaluates their own needs to determine what they require from a solution.
- Decision – The prospect has determined a course of action and begins gathering information for comparison.
A healthy pipeline engages your prospects at each step. If you don’t help them make these decisions, your potential customers won’t move through the sales journey smoothly and quickly. There should always be more focus on initiating the buyer journey than on closing it. As the majority of customers will be hesitant to move to the next phase, it’s important to start with as many good leads as possible.
3. Track Your Sales
If you can’t measure your effectiveness at each stage, you’re essentially making guesses. Tracking your prospect’s actions requires clearly defined metrics.
This can amount to a large volume of data over time. A centralized system is invaluable in organizing and analyzing the information. Instead of separating data across multiple files, you need an effective CRM (customer relationship management) solution that consolidates your sales data.
By tracking every customer interaction and sharing the information, CRM will provide the insights that help everyone prioritize their efforts and reduce sales cycles.
This allows you to develop more efficient processes. Greater understanding of customer behavior across your pipeline is the key to identifying sales patterns and boosting sales performance.
4. Keep Your Sales Pipeline Clean
Too much clutter leads to confusion. Growing businesses can’t afford to have mismanaged pipelines impacting revenue.
A poorly functioning pipeline means delays or missing information that allow good leads to slip away. By streamlining your sales process, your team is better able to spot the best prospects and learn how to develop best practices that build a strong, repeatable buyer cycle.
Every week or so, assess all the contacts in your pipeline. Prospects who simply won’t commit should be moved to a different category to reduce wasted effort. Instead, your pipeline should be built around prospects that show the signs of moving forward in the buyer journey.
Data analysis will show that your successful sales will follow similar patterns. For every minute that the prospect exceeds the usual timeframe from one phase to the next, your chances of closing the deal will fall.
Developing a healthy sales pipeline is essential to sustaining your company’s revenue. Your efforts should be built around providing a good user experience, understanding activity at each stage of the buyer journey, and tracking the results with measurable data. By centralizing this information, you can share the insights that promote higher conversion rates and a more productive sales pipeline.
Ashley Wilson is a freelance writer interested in business, marketing, and tech topics. She has been known to reference Harry Potter quotes in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. Connect with Ashley via Twitter.