Pipeline Optimization: Maximize Efficiency by Managing Your Sales PipelineLESSON #8
You might be wondering, “All this talk about filling the sales pipeline, making it bigger, and now emptying it? What's going on?” Well, rest assured, we're not crazy—maybe just a little. The concept here isn't to completely drain your sales pipeline but to be discerning about who you keep in it and when it's time for a cleanup.
Quality Over Quantity
Sometimes, bigger isn't better. In the context of your sales pipeline, you must exercise caution against letting it become overly stuffed with prospects. Think of it this way: if your goal is to maintain 20 deals in your pipeline at any given moment, and you suddenly find yourself with 50, it may seem like a triumph. After all, with numerous deals in various stages, you appear ahead of the game.
However, the reality may be different. An abundance of deals can stretch your available resources too thin. When you're overly productive in this manner, you might not allocate the necessary attention to each deal, causing some to grow cold and stagnant.
We've Been There
We once brought on a salesman who had an impressive track record before joining our team. Oddly enough, it didn't take long for us to notice he was facing challenges. In one month, he began with 10 promising leads, but by month's end, most of them hadn't progressed through the pipeline. It took us a while to realize that the repetitive “we're still thinking about it, and we should have a definite decision in a couple of weeks” response wasn't cutting it anymore. We'd heard it too many times.
When our new star altered his closing approach and asked all prospects if they were ready to place an order that month, we discovered that only one of the leads was ready to commit. It became evident that while the volume of conversations he initiated seemed reasonable, the pace of those deals was dismal. His seemingly robust pipeline was, in fact, “clogged.”
He quickly adapted and became one of the top closers on the sales team. Slow-moving prospects can drain your commission checks.
Identifying the Right Time to Cleanse the Pipeline
Several indicators suggest that a prospect in your pipeline may no longer deserve ongoing attention:
- Reflect on whether a prospect would find being in your pipeline laughable. If they don't take you seriously, it's time to reciprocate.
- Engage your prospects: Will they make a decision this month? If the answer is no, it's time to pivot.
When a prospect expresses interest in your product or service but not in the current month or quarter, it might not seem like a lost cause, but it is. Consider removing them from the pipeline because there's little you can do to close them within your sales cycle, or even in the near future.
Maintaining a Pristine Pipeline
The process of cleansing your pipeline may feel unconventional. It's tough to set aside a potential customer, even a lukewarm one. However, the essence of this course is to focus on strong candidates and keep them progressing along your pipeline. Here are some suggestions for executing a systematic plan:
Regularly review all contacts in your sales pipeline, ideally every week or two. Identify prospects who have lingered for longer than your typical sales cycle without advancing. It's time to remove them.
Don't discard them completely. Instead, relocate these prospects to a future pipeline or a future callback list. If you're using sales management software (we recommend Pipedrive for this), schedule
Concentrate on deals with a high likelihood of closing within your established sales cycle.
Purging prospects from your sales pipeline may seem counterintuitive, but it's a vital step in maintaining focus on strong candidates and ensuring a consistent revenue stream. We are waiting for you in the next lesson!