One thing that all salespeople can agree on is that having a deep pipeline lessens some pressure. But that’s also part of the problem because, and I hate to say this, it can lead to laziness. That’s why managing the sales pipeline is always important, no matter your current situation.
It’s easy to forget when you’ve got multiple deals in the last stages of the sales cycle. Of course, you want to dedicate time to closing deals so close to the paycheck.
But you know as well as I do that a deal isn’t closed until it’s actually closed. So managing your leads and deals in the early stages of your sales pipeline remains just as crucial.
The more you do it, the healthier it (and your sales career!) will be.
Not Managing the Sales Pipeline is a Little Like Gambling
Think about this. Pretend I approach you with a basketball and say that you have to make one out of three shots. If you don’t, I get your paycheck for the week. Wouldn’t that create enormous pressure on each of those shots?
What if I gave you ten shots to make only one? What about twenty?
The more chances you have, the less pressure you’ll feel.
That’s your pipeline.
Many salespeople are constantly putting themselves into situations where they have to make at least one out of three sales due to having a shallow pipeline. Every conversation becomes precious when you have so few prospects in your pipeline.
And with so few chances to make one, a lost sale might mean no weekly paycheck.
A Common Scenario
During a conversation with a friend, he started complaining about a situation he’d just had with a client.
He was frustrated that the client refused to close despite everything he could think of doing. He spent a lot of time with them and even offered free work to close the deal. After spending all that time and ultimately giving away a lot of work, he felt entitled to a “yes” from the prospect.
Needless to say, this is a terrible strategy.
I asked him why he was spending so much time trying to win this one client instead of moving on to the next prospect. He said he didn’t have that many opportunities and needed a win.
I then asked him if he would be as invested in one client if he had twenty-five leads in his pipeline. He looked confused for a second and said, “of course not.”
That’s the secret; we stop chasing and focusing on just one when we have others to fall back on. It’s part abundance vs. limitation mindset and part managing the sales pipeline.
Managing the Sales Pipeline in a Few Easy Steps
Here’s the thing. Prospecting is the worst part of being in sales for many of us.
The truth is, you don’t have to love it. But you do have to do it. And it would be best if you did it consistently and efficiently.
Your pipeline is your net. It offers protection; therefore, you have to maintain it.
Step One: Get It Out of Your Head!
If you are managing the sales pipeline out of your head, it doesn’t work. Not for long, anyway.
Things will begin to fall through the cracks, and you’ll be left with only a few opportunities that you think have the highest potential to close.
In a perfect world, you should build a pipeline so deep that you can’t keep it all in your head. Hence, you must have a CRM. The moment you log in and see a pipeline full of well-qualified opportunities is one of the best feelings you can have as a salesperson.
It takes so much pressure off!
Step Two: Keep Your CRM Clean!
An essential part of good CRM habits is taking out deals that will not close.
Keeping dead or “rotting” deals in your pipeline to make yourself feel better is not helpful. If you’ve chased a prospect for a month and left unreturned messages, it is most likely time to close the file and get it out of your pipeline.
Or, if you don’t have actions scheduled to follow up with prospects, it’s the same situation. You should probably let it go.
Step Three: Keep it Full!
If you’re doing it right, managing the sales pipeline means you should be adding at least as many prospects as you’re removing.
When you’re consistently replacing lost leads, you will have the freedom to qualify your prospects better and make sure that each one is a good fit for your company.
Plus, your sales manager can look at your pipeline and see what you’re doing. A healthy pipeline shows you’re putting in the work even if you’re in a deal-closing slump.
When you remember to keep your pipeline full, it keeps you from getting complacent. Complacency leads to dry spells.
Sure, you may be at capacity right now with the number of clients you can serve. Or maybe you have multiple deals on the verge of closing.
If that’s true, congratulations!
But it can all change tomorrow in the blink of an eye. (Do I even need to bring up what the pandemic did to most of us right now?)
No matter how successful you are now, it’s in your best interest to continue prospecting to keep your pipeline full.
Managing the Sales Pipeline is a Vital Part of the Job
Maybe you work for a bigger company with a marketing department that sends leads to you. Or perhaps your business has outsourced their lead gen.
In those cases, you might be off the hook for prospecting.
But it’s still your job to manage your sales pipeline by qualifying your prospects and maintaining your CRM to ensure a great customer experience every time.
And if you don’t work for one of those companies, then managing the sales pipeline is even more crucial.
But really, it’s just part of the job. Plain and simple. It leads to more consistent success and keeps you accountable for your actions.
So the next time you think about discounting your rates, offering free services, or saying yes to an unqualified prospect, stop. Ask yourself if you would be willing to do these things if your pipeline was deeper.
If the answer is no, move on and start refilling that pipeline!