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Guide using Sales Prospecting Tools to Improving Sales Pipeline Reviews

The sales pipeline is the pulse of your business. If you are not managing your sales pipeline reviews, your business will be suffering. You will be leaving revenue on the table and losing potential clients to your competition.

What is covered in this Guide?

Following the introduction section, we have split this guide into steps. Each step guides you on how to improve your sales pipeline reviews. We use our own Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard to support the guidance provided with each step. Sales pipeline review tips provide recommendations to improve your own sales pipeline reviews. Use the summary below to navigate to an area of interest.

Why you need a sales prospecting tool to improve sales pipeline reviews

Introduces the importance and value of using conversation metrics during sales pipeline reviews. Explains why sales prospecting tools protect and coach sales reps. How they support sales reps confirm they have made the right decisions.

Step 1: Adopt a “To Serve” approach developing sales leads

Using the right words to explain each sales stage helps guide your cognitive thinking to serve. Introduces you to the Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard Dashboard.

Step 2: Be effective managing time when qualifying sales leads

The reason to track the three different types of sales lead. How the Scorecard guides you to ask the right questions and develop conversations. The importance of qualifying a sales lead in or out early during the sales process. How conversation indicators make you more effectively manage your time and resources.

Step 3: Make it personal

Avoid your sales pipeline making your sales leads anonymous prospects and opportunities. The relationship between company sales lead and contact sales leads. Building relationships with those who are hurting and taking the time to understand the decision process.

Step 4: Become a problem finder

Why you need to be a problem finder to remain competitive in the new world of sales. Why problem finders are more successful than problem solvers creating value. Finding problems requires the skill to hypothesise and how to maintain control of the sale when buyers hold power. The impact on your business caused by poor sales pipeline reviews. How using conversation sales indicators recalibrates sales pipeline reviews.

Step 5: Map your sales pipeline to your buyers’ path

Making sure your sales prospecting tool is effective in the field. Mapping conversation sales indicators to the stages of your sales. Stepping into the sales lead conversation. Continuing building and strengthening trusted relationships. Supporting sales reps delivering a continuous stream of pitches.

Step 6: Present the ideal solution

Why sales processes must increase the time spent selling. Supporting sales reps build a knowledge inventory to deliver compelling sales pitches.

Step 7: Prepare to onboard your client. Contract sent

Why onboarding has become an important tipping point for buyers. How the Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard tracks and guides customer onboard preparation. Why onboarding has become a critical differentiator and guidance supporting sales teams to prepare sales leads for the delivery team.

Pulling it all together

If sales pipeline reviews are to be effective in maintaining sales forecast accuracy, they must focus on first serving client needs, then selling.

Why you need a sales prospecting tool to improve sales pipeline reviews

A sales pipeline is a visual snapshot where a lead is in the sales process. Sales pipelines guide how many deals a sales rep is expecting close, split into fiscal reporting periods. It feeds into the sales forecast and confirms whether the sales rep will achieve its sales quota targets. Sales pipelines provide businesses with financial predictions. These predictions use sales stages with each sales stage assigning how much revenue is forecast to close in a reported fiscal period.

Companies manage their sales pipeline within their Customer Relation Management (CRM) system. Having a single view enables sales teams to move their sales leads forward and to be decisive. It allows them to deliver more value to prospects at every stage of their journey. A well-managed CRM system helps businesses increase sales and client loyalty. Sales stages help sales leaders and reps understand which leads need more attention. When to invest time to develop a sales lead, and which leads are stagnating.

How do you build confidence with your sales leader you are managing your sales pipeline?

During a pipeline review, sales leaders rely on sales reps having the required conversations with your sales leads. These conversations must take place at the right time in the sales process. Sales prospecting tools are important because they provide feedback on these conversations. These are often referred to as lead indicators because they give sales reps warning to act and avoid sales leads slipping or their loss.

Conversation sales indicators also support sales leaders coaching and guiding their team. They help the team improve managing sales leads to close them when forecast. They provide deeper insights into conversations occurring, or not, within each sales lead. They sharpen the human interactions between buyers, influencers and sellers. Acting on these insights strengthens client relationships. It builds management confidence in the sales forecast, improving sales forecast accuracy and sales revenue growth build team morale.

The challenge is the complexities involved coaching and guiding every conversation, for every sales lead moving through the sales pipeline. Sales prospecting tools help to manage this level of sophistication. Your business, the sales reps and leaders need these insights to remain competitive.

Sales Pipeline Review Tip: If you are dealing with pushback deploying sales prospecting tools, focus on the benefits they deliver to those pushing back. Understand their concerns. Ask open-ended questions to dig into these concerns, such as, “What is your concern?”. Often change itself is often the threat.

Sales prospecting tools are not intended to highlight wrong decisions. They guide sales reps and leaders clarify and confirm they have made the right decisions. Sales pipeline reviews are also not about compromise. Managing effective pipeline review meetings is about getting into your strongest position to be your most competitive. It is about finding your high-potential and value sales leads alowing you to qualify out lower-potential sales leads. Then it is all about supporting sales leads achieve their priority business needs.

Here are seven steps to better manage your sales pipeline reviews. We use the Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard, Members Edition, where appropriate. You receive your own members’ edition licence when you enrol on any of our qualifying training courses.

Step 1: Adopt a “To Serve” approach developing sales leads

Words distil into actions, actions into outcomes. The very statement “Can I win this deal?” evokes a win / lose outcome. Rather than focusing on what your contact can do for you, start from the position what you can do for them.

Consider a simple label change. Sales stage labels will move sales reps’ and leaders’ cognitive thinking. The Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard Dashboard reports the conversation sales indicators. These indicators guide and highlight how well, or not, a sales lead is developing.

Sales prospecting tools should also adopt these labels to guide cognitive thinking. The Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard dashboard uses walls for reporting. In a traditional sales environment, we would have called one of these walls “Can we win?”. We did not, instead, we called that wall “Can we serve?”. In the old world when sales held power over buyers, we would have labelled the other two walls “Do we have the support to win?”, and “Do we have the strength to win?”.

We did not do that either. We labelled them “Do we have the support to serve?”, and the other “Do we have the strength to serve?”.

These label changes have a positive impact on your cognitive thinking. They are important for guiding sales teams and sales pipeline reviews. A simple label change helps move the outcome of the sale. The label needs to be clear to set an expectation, which is the intended outcome for every sales lead in the sales pipeline. The mere act of using positive labels helps elevate sales behaviour. They move sales reps and leaders towards that labels’ intent.

Thinking “To Serve?” recalibrates sales pipeline reviews. It moves sales reps and leaders first to consider the buyers’ situation rather than their own. Serve first, sell later. We recommend you ask the question “If they agree to buy, how will what I have to offer to improve their  (business) life?”.

Sales Pipeline Review Tip: Review how you label the sales stages within your sales pipeline. Are the labels clear what the intended outcome is from the buyers’ perspective? Could you change the labels’ wording to instil a more serving focus?

Step 2: Be effective managing time when qualifying sales leads

A sales lead can take several forms. It can be a company lead, a contact lead, or a Request for Information (RFI) or Request for Proposal (RFP) lead.

You need to invest your time developing high-potential and value sale opportunities. Qualify out low-potential and value sales leads, these waist sales reps and leaders valuable time. A business with a clear purpose better manages its time and resources. It knows what it can do better than its competitors and focuses on where it is most competitive. In other words, be clear about your purpose. If you do not know why you do what you do, how can you bring clarity to others?

Sales Pipeline Review Tip: Be clear what your business purpose is. Read the following sales blog I wrote, The human cost of not having an inspiring business purpose.  Time management is the reason you focus first on disqualifying inbound sales leads. It may sound illogical at first but let us consider why. You have a finite amount of time available to you. Be wise how you use it.

Sales prospecting tools should guide sales reps managing sales lead disqualification. The Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard provides a triage of questions that help qualify the company, contact, and or RFI/RFP lead-in or out.

The Scorecard reports on three indicator scores. This helps guide the decision of whether a sales lead represents a good time investment or not.

  1. Company Lead Confidence Score
  2. Contacts Lead Confidence Score
  3. RFI/RFP Lead Confidence Score

The image below presents two screens from the Conversation Solution Sales Scorecard. The left screen is the Sales Lead Disqualification screen. It presents the high-level scores for each type of sales lead. Selecting the collapse button guides the sales rep what questions to ask. The right screen shows the Dashboard ‘Is it a trap?’ Wall. The spider diagram presents the company sales lead score. Using open questioning techniques helps sales reps qualify the company sales lead.

Questions prompt conversations helping us understand and connect with others. Sales reps and leaders need to find the right problems to solve. Guiding sales reps to ask the right questions allows them to frame problems.

Often these questions will offer up more creative ways to deal with problems. It helps sales reps discover and better understand what the real problems are. It is these problems that need the buyers’ and influencers’ priority attention. Focusing on priority problems builds relationships and buyers’ confidence.

Doing so allows sales reps to take greater control of their sales engagements. Qualifying sales leads out to release time is a sales skill and is important in today’s world of sales. Disqualification allows sales reps and leaders to focus on their high-potential sales leads. It is these leads that become your high-value sales revenue opportunities.

Sales Pipeline Review Tip: Make sure you track the three types of sales lead. Report the sales rep’s confidence scores at the appropriate early sales stages. This ensures you are more effective in managing your time and business resources.

Step 3: Make it personal

Almost everything we do whether in sales or not involves persuasion. Your ability to move others defines your success in both personal and business life. In sales, we need to find common ground with our sales lead contacts if we are to move a deal forward together. Emotional connections create feelings within us. Managing feelings with perspective and compassion help build relationships that move deals forward. When you make it personal, a sales engagement has more purpose.

Sales pipelines risk making your sales leads an anonymous prospect or opportunity. It obscures the many people on the other side of the transaction. Injecting a more personal relationship into the sales pipeline will boost sales efficiencies because It improves quality and focuses on how well you serve.

Approach your leads as human beings by making it personal. Doing so helps you recognise the person you should be serving. It also helps you step into their situation and understand their perspective. I recommend you read the following sales blog I wrote, Is your sales forecast eroding from the inside out?

The relationship between a company sales lead and contact sales leads

A company sales lead has a one to one relationship, contact sales leads have a one to many relationships. One company sales lead to many contact sales leads. Sales reps must connect with all those influencing and making the decisions to buy. In 2014, the Corporate Executive Board or CEB, a subsidiary of Gartner, started measuring the number of people involved in a typical Business-to-Business decision. The average number of people involved in the decision process is 5.4. This makes sense when purchasing a complex enterprise software solution. More concerning is when it was measured again in 2016, it was 6.8. This represents a 25% in just two years. In 2018 the figure is closer to 10.2, which is another four stakeholders involved in the decision process compared to a few years before. The important point to take on board, whatever the number, there will be more than one person involved.

The Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard prompts sales reps to connect with the different contact roles. There will be different people and roles included in the decision process. Marketers call this the Decision-Making Unit or DMU. The Scorecard helps track and report on the different contact leads’ confidence scores. It helps sales reps connect with the right contacts that transform the sales pipelines from being distant and abstract to being concrete and personal sales interaction.

The image below presents two screens from the Conversation Solution Sales Scorecard. The left screen shows the different contact sales leads’ roles. The right screen shows a sales lead contact screen and the role that contact performs.

Sales Pipeline Review Tip: Report your company lead and contacts lead scores as one score. Providing scores helps drive the right behaviour to understand the decision-making process to connect with all influencing and decision-making roles within the company sales lead.

Build relationships with those who are hurting

We know when pushed people will not do anything to address a challenge unless it affects them. If a contact is not hurting enough, they will not put in the effort to resolve what is causing it. The Scorecard brings this reality alive. The above left-hand image presents an unhappy face, which means they are hurting. Notice how only one of the financial influencer contacts is hurting. Providing this information helps guide which contacts to invest more time building relationships.

Take time to understand the decision process

Too often a sales lead managed through a sales pipeline has one or two sales contacts. Often sales pipeline reviews overlook this risk developing the sales lead. The Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard guides sales reps to identify these risks and missing sales contacts. Accurate forecasting requires sales reps to understand the decision-making process. Sales pipeline reviews need to highlight where there are gaps to identify risk exposure.

Sales Pipeline Review Tip: Make sure you are tracking the different contact roles. Use the Scorecard in reviews to highlight potential risks. The Scorecard allows a sales rep to track up to six critical roles for each sales contact lead guiding where to invest time to strengthen each sales engagement.

Building valued trusted relationships requires knowing who to connect with. Reporting the company and contacts’ lead confidence score will foster effective sales behaviour to improve sales forecast accuracy and close deals quicker.

Step 4: Become a problem finder

Many in sales consider problem-solving is their primary focus. To be competitive in today’s new world of sales, you need to be a problem finder. I recorded a Knowledge Article why you need to become a problem finder.

Some sales reps focus on providing buyers with access to information and answering questions. The most successful sales reps curate information in the public domain. They help navigate what is important to their leads’ situation and priority needs. Doing so builds trust, confidence and respect. The buyer appreciates sellers who are working to serve their best interests.

Problem finders are more successful than problem solvers creating value. Finding high-risk and priority problems to solve positions these sales reps and their supporting teams apart while other sales reps are focussing on solving the problems presented to them.

Other sales reps and supporting teams may have more technical or superior knowledge. This will offer little value if you are not addressing a priority problem. A problem finder is more willing to adapt and change direction because their mindset is more adaptable. They adapt to the dynamic, complex, and unpredictable conditions they must work within. They also work better in cross-functional sales environments taking the time to scope and deliver the right solution to meet buyers’ most pressing needs.

Finding problems requires the skill to hypothesise.

Hypothesising is a skill that helps clarify what is going to happen next. Not all questions are equal; you need to know your audience. Rational questions do not move resistant to act. It is the irrational questions that have greater influence to motivate people.

Sales prospecting tools must coach and guide sales reps through this transformation. It is the reason the Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard uses a scale providing context and perspective guiding what questions to ask when.

Designed also for use with buyers and influencers, sales reps can use the Scorecard to clarify challenges while working with their sales leads. This helps sales reps to understand better how committed their sales contacts are and have the confidence they will follow through. Business to Business sales is today more about collaborating finding a resolution. Collaborating using the Scorecard helps both the sales rep, influencers and buyers clarify their current behaviour. It also helps influencers and buyers articulate why they need a given outcome.

Sales Pipeline Review Tip: Guide your sales reps to ask the right questions. Asking the right questions moves the conversation and sales lead forward. Good questions maintain the sales lead velocity moving through the sales pipeline.

Maintaining control of the sale when the buyer holds the power

The Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard helps sales rep manage dynamic, complex, and unpredictable conditions they work. Those conditions become more challenging when buyers and influencers hold power. The Scorecard guides reps what questions to ask developing their sales conversations. These help them clarify where they and their sales lead is now, and how to help get to where the sales lead needs to be. Asking the right questions at the right time helps us understand the situation. It helps sales reps build stronger business cases and arguments to support their pitch.

These indicators will help clarify and confirm where the sales lead is in the sales pipeline. It also helps during sales pipeline reviews improve sales forecast accuracy. Improved forecast accuracy strengthens the business’s financial stability. Greater stability provides the foundation for achieving both revenue and business goals.

Finding the right problems to address also helps influencers and buyers look good. It opens the door to greater creativity, generosity and possibilities. These attributes are the staple ingredients required to build trusted relationships that allow sales reps to develop solutions the competition has not considered. It all comes back to asking the right questions. These questions change the sales interaction itself for the better.

The image below presents part of the conversational Solution Sales Scorecard’s contact disqualification screen. Closed and open questioning techniques guide the sales rep to discover new insights. The open-ended questions feed into the sales contact lead score.

Sales Pipeline Review Tip: Check how effective your sales pipeline reviews are. Consider using a sales prospecting tool such as the Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard. Use it alongside your existing sales pipeline indicators and sales stage revenue forecasting. The Scorecard guides conversations a sales rep should be having within a sales lead.

The impact of poor sales pipeline reviews

If the sales pipeline is the business pulse, poor pipeline reviews often result in the deteriorating health of a business. This is because they reflect a different pulse to what is occurring in the field. Inaccurate sales revenue forecasting feeds a false sense of wellbeing within your business. It impacts a business’s ability to manage its cash flow and growth plans. Once this reality hits home, a business usually focuses inwards to reduce cash flow. It should focus on finding what is causing the problem, and invest to rectify and fix the cause. This allows businesses to recover from such setbacks. It also ensures sales teams continue to focus on serving its market and clients. As a result, business growth plans will be more resilient from unexpected knocks and blows.

How using conversation sales indicators recalibrates sales pipeline reviews

Your sales pipeline must include conversation sales indicators because they increase management’s confidence in the sales pipeline and sales forecast. These indicators come from the sales rep clarifying and validating key facts. They will better reflect the wants and needs of the influencers and buyers. When compared and reported alongside sales pipeline indicators, sales leaders can better manage risk caught up in their teams’ sales revenue forecasts.

The Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard will help to recalibrate and improve your sales pipeline and revenue reporting health. Reporting sales conversation indicators alongside other CRM indicators improves sales forecast accuracy. It improves sales pipeline reviews building a more robust and competitive business.

Conversation sales indicators strengthen the beating heart and pulse of your business.

Download our Sales Forecasting Guide For Sales Teams & Business Owners

Step 5: Map your sales pipeline to your buyers’ path

Discovering buyers’ real problems requires a keen mind. Intelligence and an appreciation of what is possible.

Sales reps and leaders use Step 4 ‘Become a problem finder’ as a compass during sales pipeline reviews. Sales success today depends more on problem finding skills than problem-solving. With buyers better informed, delivering value buyers are willing to pay for requires focus finding priority problems buyers and influencers do not know they have.

Sales reps and leaders need effective questioning and listening skills. These skills will uncover key facts and insights during sales conversations. Becoming a problem finder, sales reps will be more creative. Interactions with buyers and influencers are also more human. We often call this consultative selling. The outcome is always more creative and competitive than a sales rep who is solving a problem.

Make sure your sales prospecting tool can be used in the field

The next step is to map these skills and the buyer’s journey onto the sales pipeline. The challenge for sales reps is sales practices may not be connected to the sales process. It is often difficult for sales reps to apply them during the whirlwind of their day to day work. Their world is dynamic, complex and unpredictable. It often results in applying sales practices after sales lead conversations have occurred. Or before sales pipeline reviews and Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs).

Sales reps invest valuable time in preparing for pipeline reviews and QBRs. This is a contributor to why today’s sales professionals spend 34% of their time selling. According to a Salesforce survey. Sales teams are struggling, 57% expect to miss their quotas this year.

Sales practices need to be more dynamic and interactive. These practices and sales methodologies are well proven. Sales prospecting tools need to incorporate them to become more useable in the field. It provides sales pipelines and reviews with consistency to incorporate leading indicators to forecast accurately.  Used with other sales pipeline indicators during sales pipeline reviews support sales reps develop their game plans. This support the sales rep become more effective in managing their sales leads. More skilful working within their dynamic, complex and often unpredictable conditions. And more accurate forecasting their sales revenue.

Sales Pipeline Review Tip: Place your buyer’s journey centre stage. Embed conversation sales indicators within the sales pipeline and use them to guide your sales reps through the sales process to close deals quicker.

Mapping conversation sales indicators to the stages of your sales

The table below shows the updated sales pipeline mapped to the buyer’s journey. The sales conversation indicators provide insights on how well, or not; conversations are progressing. Different Scorecard conversation indicators map to different sales stages.

Sales StageDescription
(Conversation Sales Indicator)
% Revenue Forecast% Conversation
Sales Indicator
1Appointment scheduled10%
2Qualified to buy (RFI/RFP / Company Lead Score)20%
3Developing Lead (Company & Contacts Lead Score)30%
4Agreed Business Needs (Can we serve? Score)40%
5Decision Makers Bought-In (Support to serve? Score)50%
6Present the Ideal Solution (Strength to serve? Score)60%
7Onboarding / Contract Sent (Overall Lead Score)70%
8Contract Won100% Won
-Closed Lost0% Lost

The Scorecard’s sales conversation indicators are in brackets within the description column. The first three sales stages focus on time management. During these sales stages, the focus is whether to progress. Should the sales rep invest more time and resource into developing the sales lead.

Sales leads at these stages should only be considered a sales prospect, never a sales opportunity. The sales rep will not have discovered enough insights yet. They still need to know whether this is a realistic opportunity. These insights are the foundation for improving sales forecast accuracy. It is the reason we have set the revenue gearing low. Revenue from early sales stages is also an indicator of how well a sales rep is feeding their sales pipeline.

When a sales rep moves a sales lead into Sales Stage 4, Agreed the Business Need. The tables turn. The seller must now be 100% committed to serving that sales lead. It is at this stage the sales rep can consider forecasting the sales lead as an opportunity. Their questioning and listening skills are also central to their success. These skills will define how well they meet the influencers’ and buyers’ qualified needs.

Stepping into the sales lead conversation

Sales reps need to step into the buyers’ and influencers’ situation to understand their perspective. Buyers and influencers want to know whether the sales rep can deliver what they need. Sales stage 4, Agreed business need, focuses on ‘Can we serve?’.

The image below steps into one of the Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard’s bricks. It is the budget brick that is part of the ‘Can we serve?’ Wall. The Scorecard uses a concept know as triaging. Asking the right questions at the right time helps discover new insights. It guides and builds confidence in managing sales lead through a sales pipeline. The box to the right allows sales reps to add their insights. This box contains further guidance which is not lost when the sales rep overwrites it. They can select the toggle example button to view the overwritten guidance. The sales rep’s input is used by the Scorecard to present a draft proposal. Sales reps use this content to create and deliver compelling sales pitches and their sales proposal.

Sales Pipeline Review Tip: During sales stage 4, make sure you focus on discovery. The Scorecard uses walls containing bricks. Each brick guides the sales rep and leader what questions to ask. Open-ended questions have a confidence scale. It is the confidence score that contributes to the ‘… serve? Walls’ score you are reporting during sales pipeline reviews.

Continue building and strengthening trusted relationships

Moving into Sales Stage 5, Decision Makers Bought-In. The sales pipeline turns its focus to building trusted relationships. Conversations focus on strengthening bricks in the ‘Do we have the support to serve?’ Wall. They help sales reps discover insights understanding the sales lead’s internal workings, priority needs and decision-making process. These insights build relationships that move the sales lead through the sales pipeline to closure.

The image below presents an alternative view of the ‘Support to serve?’ Wall. The spider diagram’s pictorial view highlights risks. This guides the sales rep where to focus and strengthen relationships to gain better insights.

Sales Pipeline Review Tip: Make sure your sales conversations collect intelligence and deeper insights. Focus on strengthening contact relationships at this sales stage. They will move the lead quicker through the sales pipeline to closure.

Supporting sales reps delivering a continuous stream of pitches

These are part of the sales conversation and discovery process. They position your business on how to serve the sales lead best. The final sales pitch is presenting your proposed solution. We are moving into preparing the business to deliver on its promise. This stage reflects how well the business can deliver on its promise. Sales reps’ skill to review and reflect is critical to their success. It is why sales stage 6 asks ‘Are we strong enough to serve?’

Much of this work will have carried out during earlier sales stages. The sales rep will have moved about the different Scorecard walls. Pipeline reviews with sales leaders would do the same. At this sales stage, the buyer will be asking that same question. ‘Is this supplier strong enough to deliver what we need?’. Sales reviews need to do the same.

Buyers work to level the playing field. Becoming a problem finder, sales reps will create an uneven playing field that influences buyers when reviewing shortlisted suppliers will see your business as more competitive. Done well, trusted contacts get behind pitching a successful sale and help push it over the line. By building confidence in your solution you will have closed the door on your competition.

Sales stage 6 includes delivering the final sales pitch. Insights and trusted relationships allow you to forecast each deal with greater accuracy. We have also kept the revenue gearing low. The reason for this gearing is twofold:

  1. It avoids complacency. Keeps sales reps’ focus developing the sales lead and feeding the sales pipeline funnel.
  2. Executives and the investment community do not like surprises. They prefer predictable, repeatable high-value sales growth. Consistent, accurate sales forecasting opens the door to lower-cost investment capital.

Sales Pipeline Review Tip: Make sure questions asked focus on delivering promises made. Check there are no surprise competitors lurking in the shadows. Make sure everyone in the business is clear and aligned with how you will onboard the client once the deal closes.

Step 6: Present the ideal solution

We have discussed managing the sales stages up to sales stage 6, Present final solution. We return to sales stage 6 on account of the Salesforce statistic presented earlier.

Why sales processes must increase the time spent selling

Today’s sales professionals spend 34% of their time selling. This highlights sales teams are struggling with 57% expecting to miss their quotas this year. This is a slightly higher figure than that presented by CSO Insights, Selling in the Age of Ceaseless Change: The 2018-2019 Sales Performance Report. They report quota attainment has increased only slightly between 2017 to 2018, moving from 53.0% to 54.3%.

These are worrying statistics. Sales reps are in their post to sell and achieve their sales plans and quota targets. Businesses must reduce the administrative burden placed on sales and supporting sales teams. Reporting their position within the business must be part of their time selling. This allows sales leaders to focus pipeline reviews moving deals forward.

Sales Pipeline Review Tip: Your sales pipeline must support your sales reps and leaders. Sales processes taking sales reps and leaders out of the field away from selling to report on their sales pipeline is ineffective. This internal management reporting highlights a failed sales pipeline and sales process.  To rectify this we recommend you install a sales prospective tools like the Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard. This will release the time to focus on selling.

Supporting sales reps build a knowledge inventory to deliver compelling sales pitches

To assist achieve this outcome, the Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard supports a knowledge inventory. As sales reps work through the sales stages, they collect and update knowledge insights. Every brick supports cataloguing their knowledge insights related to that brick.

The Scorecard’s intuitive design means it will become a key sales tool for sales reps to use in the field. Bricks’ scores can be integrated with CRM systems. Sales reps add insights to each brick as they develop their sales leads. No longer is information spread across different media or in sales reps’ head. It is all in one place related to that sales lead brick that can be linked to the CRM system. This cataloguing supports sales reps’ structure compelling sales proposals reflecting sales leads’ priority needs.

The image below presents the sales lead proposal template. A sales rep can generate a draft proposal at any point they need it. All information from the scorecard’s bricks compiles into the template. It is simple, fast and effortless and available for every sales lead in the sales pipeline. The Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard removes frustrations, saves time and keeps sales reps competitive.

Sales Pipeline Review Tip: Proposals are your silent salesperson. Make sure all intelligence discovered is accessible within a proposal template. This will help to speed up sales lead moving through the sales pipeline to closure. It also strengthens the sales pipeline reporting within your CRM system.

Step 7: Prepare to onboard your client. Contract sent

North Highland Worldwide Consulting summarised the importance of optimising the customer onboarding experience. The first days and weeks of a relationship are critical. They drive customer satisfaction and build value.

The sellers’ challenges onboarding customers

The report states sellers (suppliers) face three major challenges during this period.

  1. Limited customer understanding
  2. Lack of alignment of functional groups
  3. Poor communications

The next generation sales pipeline must address all three challenges. The North Highland article also referenced a Harvard Business Review highlighting 85% of executives surveyed agree that successful onboarding will ensure long-term customer loyalty.

Sales Pipeline Review Tip: Guide sales reps, pre-sales, post-sales, and marketing to onboard new clients.

Why the Scorecard tracks and guides customer onboard preparation

The seller challenges are the reason the Scorecard includes a Delivery / Onboarding Brick. This is within the ‘Are we strong enough to serve?’ Wall. It is also the reason we have dedicated a guidance section within the Scorecard. It guides sales reps, pre-sales and post-sales to onboard your hard-won client. The guidance also supports marketing develop deliverables required to build confidence. Sales reps use these with those contacts making and influencing the decision to buy. Onboarding guides supporting sales teams to prepare sales leads for the delivery team. Our recommended approach is to use a Memorandum of Understanding or MOU.

Onboarding has become an important tipping point for buyers

It is the reason why we included it as a sales pipeline stage. This ensures you are preparing for and managing the onboarding as part of the sales process. Doing so addresses Harvard Business Review’s findings and will help you avoid the three most prominent issues during onboarding. These are:

  • 54% of surveyed executives pointed to a lack of alignment between functional areas
  • 51% pointed to inadequate communications
  • 44% pointed to a limited understanding of customer needs

There are often internal complaints related to insufficient resources. Interesting only 26% of respondents cited this as the main customer failure point. With buyers gaining more power within the sales process, sales reps and support teams must prepare to onboard a sales lead. Including onboarding creates more accountability within sales and supporting sales teams.

Sales Pipeline Review Tip: Including how you will onboard your sales leads as part of your sales pipeline will differentiate you from your competition. If a sales rep considers the deal won, they move on to the next. It is the clients’ satisfaction after the sale that determines how they value their relationship with you and your solution. We recommend you include onboarding as part of your closing sales stage and sales pipeline reviews. It will fuel your business revenue growth into the future.

Pulling it all together

If sales pipelines are the beating heart of your business. Using conversational sales indicators supporting pipeline reviews are your regular health check. Organisations must move their perspective outward when managing sales pipelines. Sales leads and clients should be centre stage, not internal management reporting. They are the source of your organisation’s health. If your sales team and organisation is to prosper and grow. If sales pipeline reviews are to be effective in maintaining sales forecast accuracy. Sales pipelines must focus on first serving client needs, then selling.

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To discuss how you can strengthen your sales pipeline. Improve sales pipeline reviews and sales forecast accuracy.

About the Author

Treve Wearne is the founder of Nazca Services Limited. Treve supports businesses and sales teams positioning themselves and increasing sales revenues. Improving sales forecasts, talent development and retention in the most challenging business environments.

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