Managing a sales pipeline and a sales team is accompanied with a lot of trial and error. There are often mistakes that you just can’t get past. Some of these mistakes are issues that sales managers aren’t even aware of, they are sometimes disguised as achievements or positives in a pipeline when in reality they are hurting your business in the long run. This list is a short, summarized compilation of some of the main problems and mistakes people make when managing a sales pipeline.
- Treating all customers as if they have the same needs
Not all of your customers have the same wants and goals for their company, so why would you talk to each customer like they do? The relationships that are built with customers and prospects need to be built around the needs and goals of the prospect, not the money you will make on the sale. Their business goals should be just as important to you as your business goals and each customer needs to be seen individually.
- Not identifying the right clients
Are you trying to make every single lead you have work or are you trying to focus on the leads that are actually hot? You need to be focusing your time and energy on the customers and leads that have the highest probability of converting to sales. Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? This rule suggests that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers. Find that 20% group of customers that are going to bring you the most sales and focus most of your time and energy on that specific group. Make sure this group of people is happy and your relationships keep building.
- Believing sales forecasting is a waste of time
In 2015 only 16.9% of sales managers listed optimizing sales forecasting as a top priority. This, although time-consuming and tedious, will make all the difference. Wouldn’t you like to know the possibilities and challenges of your pipeline before they happen? Most sales managers would answer that question with a yes. You can effectively do this by accurately forecasting your sales. Sales forecasting can help you gain full control of your pipeline and its management.
- Not asking for referrals
Most people prefer doing business with people they already. This is why referrals are so important. When you’re introduced to a new prospect through a client you are already very close to, the prospect has an established respect for you. Obviously, you still have to do the work to keep that relationship by working hard and listening to the needs of the prospect, but the initial first impression is already taken care of.
- Not realizing the number of open opportunities
If you aren’t aware of all of your open sales, you are also not aware of all the opportunities you have in the horizon. This is why you are missing out on a lot of promising customers. We all know that the number one priority of any sales pipeline is to focus on the prospects that are “ready to buy” but then where do you go? You go back to your sales process and focus on the prospects that are “almost ready to buy”. These are the prospects that haven’t given you the go but have looked at their budget and have made some room; these are the people you have been in constant contact with. See what you can do to gently move them to become a prospect that is ready to buy. You can’t forget about people who you have already closed with, you need to remember to occasionally check up on them and ask if there is anything else you can do for them and how they like the service you sold.
If you can go through your sales pipeline and processes, find the mistakes you’re making, and correct them, it will make all the difference.