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Bob Sullivan

Optimize Your Sales Pipeline

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Effectively managing and making the most of the sales pipeline is something that often gets neglected by too many sales managers. Bottom-line result of this ongoing practice is that top-line revenues decline.

An article, "How Small Changes in Pipeline Management Make Big Changes in Top Line Revenues", By Chuck Schaeffer, provides some valuable ways to optimize and manage your sales pipeline that will increase your top-line revenue.

Some highlights follow:

Pipeline Design

Rather than design the pipeline as a silo storage container for sale opportunities, it's a good idea to architect the sales pipeline within the bigger context of a revenue funnel. Designing an integrated lead-to-revenue funnel permits sales and marketing leaders to measure conversions and work backwards from slated revenue targets by knowing exactly what must go into the Top of the Funnel to come out of the bottom.

Pipeline Operation

The single biggest lost opportunity in pipeline development is lead leakage. The second biggest problem is pursuing unqualified leads that can't be won. According to Sirius Decisions, 80% of leads generated by marketing get ignored by sales. The stats from Gartner, Forrester, and CSO Insights are nearly the same. Far too many marketers continue to throw unqualified leads over the fence to sales.

Hygiene & Maintenance

Let's face it, a lot of sales people have happy ears and wear rose-colored glasses. This optimistic view has the result of overstating the volume and the quality of sales opportunities. I've also found that sales opportunity probabilities linked to sales stage activities tend to overstate pipeline values. The biggest problem here is that the typical sales activities (qualification, discovery, demo, etc.) are entirely focused on what the sales person does, and not linked to buyer advancement.

For more information, read InfoGrow's article, "Lead to Sales". This will walk you through everything you should know about the sales pipeline and lead generation/management.

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About the Author:
Bob Sullivan is President of InfoGrow Corporation, a national sales & marketing consultant and applications provider that enables clients to leverage information and technology for increased sales & marketing effectiveness.
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