A sales pipeline is (in theory) a very simple process. You simply take a person with a slight interest in what you are doing and turn them into a paying customer. The sales pipeline is a predetermined series of steps that help you to do this and it is often looked upon as a graphical chart.

Let’s take an example. Meet Shubh, my colleague and Head of solutions, North America region

what is a sales pipeline- sales manager perspective

He says

“Before identifying my sales pipeline, for me, the important thing is what my revenue target. So if my revenue target is $50,000 MRR in a quarter, I am not gonna waste my time to chase accounts that can give me 800-1000 dollar MRR. And would rather go behind the ones that can give me north of $5000 MRR”

Then once the revenue target is identified, I pick up a region/sub-industry. Before going into any market it is important to have region focus so that the referrals can create a repeatability of the customers. Once that is done, now I pick up the companies/leads that can help me reach the revenue target is the shortest possible time. I target them/get them targetted. Bring them to demos.

And do a sufficient number of demos so that probable closure is equal to 3-4 times of my target. Basically considering the closure rate of 25-30%. This is how deals go into the sales pipeline.”

He adds

“This is a constant process so it never stops. One can never know when does a deal go out of the pipeline, so you have to keep pushing numbers in the pipeline.”

If you imagine the sales pipeline to be a four-step process

Stages-of-Sales-Pipeline

wherein you first obtain leads, secondly qualify them to ensure you are selling them the right thing, thirdly work them into a sales opportunity, and finally close the deal, then you won’t see any issue at all.

Until you gain a second lead.

While you’re working on your first lead and are nearly in step 3, your new lead needs to begin at step 1. But let’s be honest, that’s easy. It’s as simple as juggling with two eggs – you have two hands, you can do it easily. You keep both eggs in the air, and all is well.

And then you gain a third lead.

It’s not so easy to keep that third egg in the air, but with some practice and hard work, you get the hang of it. If only that first lead would hurry up and let you close the deal.

And then leads four and five come along at the same time.

To juggle with five eggs will take all your time, energy, and skill. The chances are that at some stage, you’re going to drop an egg, and all that work will have been wasted. The real problem comes when you realize that you are losing control of just one egg. You have to adjust everything so you can catch it…and drop every other egg you were juggling.

what is a sales pipeline- infographic

In your imagination, it looks like your next meal is scrambled eggs. In the business world, your sales pipeline has just broken, and you’re going to have to start again right from the beginning.

 

Keep the flow going

In our previous analogy, leads (or eggs) came through the pipeline one or two at a time. If you are running a high-velocity business, you might be hoping for tens or hundreds of leads every single day.

insurance-crm-revenue-pipeline

The key to constructing a solid sales pipeline of this size is to constantly be aware of where every lead is in the pipeline, and deal with them according to their position. The hard part is keeping track of them all.

what is a sales pipeline- crm snapshot

Using an integrated pipeline management tool or CRM software will aid you in this endeavor. Not only will you be able to see where every lead is, but you will also be able to plan your next steps to guide them from being a lead into an opportunity and finally, into a paying customer.

Software Execution

The absolute worst thing you can do is lose track of the potential customers in your sales pipeline, as they may already be in someone else’s pipeline – when you let them go, somebody else is just waiting to catch them.

To help with this, many companies will strengthen their salesman count. The more people who work for your company, the more people there are to deal with the leads – simple, right?

Not necessarily. Imagine there were two of you juggling with six leads – or eggs – and you decide to swap a lead with each other. If you’re juggling with eggs, how do you do it? A carefully choreographed maneuver is required for each person to toss one egg to the other at the same time. Get it wrong, and both eggs get dropped.

what is sales pipeline- sales process

Using a CRM system with powerful pipeline management allows you to not only know where each lead is in the sales pipeline but also allows you to keep other important details about them – what web pages they are visiting, what their motivation and interest lie in, what will be the best time to call them and more. This makes it easy to pass to another rep, or alternatively to refresh your own memory when you aren’t quite sure where you left the conversation last time.

Zopim integration - lead tracking

You’re not trying to reduce your leads

One important factor to remember is that this is a sales pipeline, and not a sales funnel. The purpose of a sales funnel is to slowly eliminate those leads that aren’t going to become customers – it’s OK to sometimes drop a few eggs because they were bad eggs anyway.

Sales Pipeline - Paying Customer

With a sales pipeline, your ultimate goal is to turn every lead into a paying customer, and the only difference is that some leads take longer than others. Every egg is a good egg, and with systems in place and plenty of practice, a good sales rep can juggle a lot of eggs for as long as needed.

Field Force Automation - Banner
Explore the field force automation app and learn how it can automate your field team’s daily tasks – plan their day, show them leads in their vicinity, check-ins, and more.

Among all the sales teams (inside sales, pre-sales, call center, sales development), the field force is the hardest to control – because you are not with them physically. As your field sales reps move from one prospect to the other, you want to know what’s happening with every meeting. You don’t want to wait for the meeting to get over and then call the rep each time and ask “What happened. how did it go”

Field force automation solves this challenge by establishing a  real-time communication channel between the off-site sales team and the onsite team handling sales and admin operations.

Web & Mobile: Two Sides of a Coin 

Field Force Automation-mobile and web sync

An effective field force automation software will work on both the web and mobile devices seamlessly. The mobile application empowers your field staff to get real activity updates from the leads, auto-capture leads from phone calls, geo-tracking, live meeting updates and day planner to name a few.

The mobile app is synced to the web app and the sales manager while sitting in the office can access all the information real time. LeadSquared has the ability to post notes offline too

 

Field Force Automation = Efficiency

Automation means efficiency. It removes certain manual and repetitive tasks from your field sales process like assigning leads to the relevant sales rep, eliminating paperwork, logging meeting updates and reporting Let’s see how:

Eliminates paperwork (or excel sheets)

Field Force Automation-eliminate paperwork

Tracking performance on the paper or an excel sheet for that matter is largely unsustainable for any forward-thinking organization. The paper pile keeps increasing with time. An automated system will allow you to add new leads to the system automatically (from phone, chat, website, third party websites). It eliminates typing mistakes and keeps the data organized.

A field force automation app allows a sales rep to add the notes real time instead of coming back to the home/office, visualizing the meeting and writing down the meeting history. They can click pictures of important documents and upload it there and then. A sales manager (sitting in the office) can also review the notes instantly.

Assign leads automatically

Field Force Automation-lead distribution

When a lead is captured, the software automatically assigns that lead to the relevant salesperson based on certain criteria like zip code, product or proximity. This reduces response time drastically. The sales rep is notified on phone with all the lead details available with just a tap.

 

Manage without micromanaging

Field Force Automation-analytics

Field force automation software is like a binocular which allows you to see what is happening on the field, from a distance with real-time geo-tracking, spontaneous updates on sales activities with customers or requests for assistance from the manager. It makes it easier to follow up on your sales team without running down their throats. A simple dashboard on the web app provides you with an easy-to-understand report of all sales reps, which includes what they’re currently working on, their location at the moment, the client they’re meeting, the distance they traveled which in turns empowers the sales manager to track and act accordingly.

field sales agent performance

Keep your team in sync 

Field Force Automation-micromanaging

Sales managers and on-field reps have access to common data in real time which results in strong coordination between the two. The role of the sales manager is not just to spy the salesperson all the time, but to coach them at all the important sales junctures and important sales meetings to help them close deals faster

mobile crm - meeting notes

Conclusion 

The objective of any salesperson is to close the deal faster.  An automated field sales app creates a bridge between the field and the office. With joint intelligence and seamless integration between the web and mobile, it creates an ecosystem where information is shared, absorbed and acted upon.

 

Field Force Tracker - banner
A field force tracker could be easily compared with a binocular. You are concerned about something but can not see it from a distance. You need some tool to get the visibility of what is happening on the field, without physically being there.

In tech terms, a field force tracker is an app which helps you to track the activities and performance of your field force team. As individuals and as a collective, giving full visibility into the field operations.

Field Force Tracker. What, Where and Why? - Info graphic

Answering the WH- questions

So, you’re at your office, trying to manage a large team of field sales reps. There’s that sense of insecurity that overwhelms you. Because you’re uncertain of so many things. They’re doing the meetings all right but the deals aren’t closing. Different questions roam your mind? Top of which is: why are your sales team members not converting hard-earned leads? What are they doing wrong? Who have they been talking to in the first place? Amongst many others.

It is ultimately starting to feel like a failing marriage, where you don’t trust that your salespeople are doing what they are supposed to do.

You are not even sure if they are at the client’s office or watching a blockbuster with their family.

But there’s only one way to be sure – to be with them, not physically. Remember Binocular? And this is where the field force tracker comes in.

Where?

For most field force managers, the biggest challenge is to track salespeople at different times and tell where they are?

field-force-tracker-task-and-route-planning

Their concern is the meeting getting missed or delayed.  A near perfect solution would be to see the sales rep in real time during work hours with the help of an in-app GPS, especially if they have big/many appointments during the day

Some modern-day field force trackers will not only show you the current location of your sales team, but also the leads or the prospects near them. This is a very important feature from the route-optimizing standpoint. Or sometimes when the meeting gets canceled, you can quickly assign another meeting (which is probably in the neighborhood) to optimize their time or routes.

What?

The second most important question which lingers in the sales managers mind is what is happening in the meetings?

field-force-tracker-location-Intelligence

You don’t have the energy or the will to call your salesperson every 10 minutes to check on the meeting. You need something better, an efficient way to know what is happening in real time

Field trackers come with a feature called real-time meeting notifications, where a sales rep can upload the meeting notes instantly. They can check into the meeting and check out when it is over. Upload important documents, notes, customer objections, even without internet connectivity.

Why?

The third, but the most important question. Why the deals are not getting closed?

field-force-tracker-reporting

The sales tracker is not just the spying tool, it provides you heaps of invaluable data to dig and find out where your deal is breaking. By tracking your sales reps, lead information, and client interactions in one place, you can analyze and improve your field sales process.

how to improve field sales


Is sales tracker enough?

Coming back to our binocular analogy, with sales tracker you can see what’s happening but can’t do anything about it. To transform your field sales into a pack of closer’s you need to impart data, knowledge, and guidance at the right time, much like how the air traffic controller controls various aircraft at once to avoid any accidents. If the Sales tracker is deeply and smartly integrated with a lead management system/ CRM/ Sales execution engine, with the predictive algorithm, it can suggest the further steps automatically.

field-force-tracker-sales execution

On a closing note, I would like to say it is hard to create a connected and measurable ecosystem. With tools like LeadSquared, which has a sales, marketing and field force app unified in one platform, you can spend less time in setting up, learning and integrating the software and more time monitoring and mentoring your field sales.

As customers across are relying increasingly on online and mobile banking, the race is on for financial services organizations to adapt to this evolution in the most secure and agile manner. From this webinar on Digital Transformation in Finance, know more about latest tips, trends and tools that are changing the face of finance industry, from Parth Pande, CEO of Finance Buddha.

Parth brings a ton of experience to the table, having spent 8 years at Citibank, before founding Finance Buddha. At Citibank, Parth had set up the most profitable retail asset franchise within the bank, accounting for over 45% of the country’s volumes in personal loans.

In this session, he talks about the state of digital transformation in BFSI, different industry trends and the various technologies that are providing a win-win for consumers.

Access all other webinar recordings here: https://www.leadsquared.com/webinar/marketing-webinars/

lead source report - feature image

Lead generation is not easy. Everyone wants to generate more leads, better leads. That is the very reason it is so difficult. While lead generation one major aspect of any marketing strategy, lead source tracking should not be neglected as well. In simple terms, the lead source is the channel where the leads are coming from and lead source tracking is the mechanism to understanding those channels.

Why you should track the Lead Source?

Napolean Bonaparte once said

“War is ninety percent information.”

If you are going for a lead gen war then you need a lot of information. Which lead source works the best, which one is leaking money. Without that information, you are just flying blind. A lot of marketers are only interested in understanding only the number of leads from various sources, which doesn’t give you the complete picture. Apart from that number, there are some other dimensions of the lead source tracking which are very important

The best lead generation source may not be the most profitable source

Let’s say you generate 1000 leads from Facebook and 300 from Google Adwords. But the lead to customer rate of AdWords is 10% as compared to 2% from Facebook. It means Google Adwords is giving you 10 customers and Facebook is giving you 20 customers. You should also track the order value to understand the quality of the audience.

 A conversion source is different than the source of origin

Let’s say you have three web pages A, B, and C. A visitors discover you from page A  and next day he visits your website again and checks out page C and fills out a form there. Now, what is the lead source of this lead? Is it Page A or page C.

In my opinion, the answer is both. Page A is the source of origin and page C is the source of conversion. It is important to differentiate both these conversion sources as it will tell you whether the problem lies in the discoverability of the page or the conversion on the page.

Tracking offline lead generation sources is also very important

Online lead source tracking is relatively easy. Cookies and tracking script easily can tell you that information. But how do you track the offline sources like – Banners, events, brochures?

One way to do that is to give a dedicated phone number to each of these items. The number of calls on that phone number will tell you the number of leads generated by that source.

A lot of leads comes via referral and word of mouth. These are the hardest to track. Some companies ask for that information ( From where did you hear about us) in their lead generation forms and their phone calls.

In the end

At the risk of stating the obvious, whatever can be measured can be improved. If you are not tracking your lead sources in detail it is unlikely that you are going improve it. The modern-day software is very intelligent in tracking lead sources and the different aspects of lead generation. LeadSquared is one of them. You can take a 14-day free trial to see how it works

field force management software cover

No matter how much the  digital revolution has changed the buying behavior of consumers, some things will continue to require the active presence of humans.  Like selling insurance for example – a lot of us still want to talk to a person, more than a bot even though they have their vital uses. We feel comfortable when we are talking to a living being in-person, asking questions, nodding along. 

When a salesman sells something directly instead of going through channels like wholesale, he is categorized as a Direct Sales Agent (DSA). If he is physically traveling from door to door, trying to convince people to buy his product, he is a field salesperson and a team of such salespeople is called a field force or a field sales team. 

The Need for Field Force Management Software? 

Some businesses can’t thrive without a field force. It is essential for them to go door to door. Field sales come with its benefits (like the trust of a real person), yet with certain challenges as well. For one, it is really hard to monitor the team’s activities. You really can’t tell what goes on outside the walls of your office when your sales team go out for the day’s business. You don’t know if they’re having a burger and an ice-cold drink at McDonald’s, or worse still if they’re running little errands for their own personal businesses. 

These diversions are far too common, and a strict monitoring and tracking of your field sales team often defines its success or failure, especially when you consider the number of resources going into fuelling your field sales, apart from the time of course. This includes the recurrent costs of gassing up field vehicles, as well as many others like phone bills, food bills, costs of marketing materials, etc. 

The above is just one of many perspectives of why field force management is necessary for direct selling teams, especially when they exist in large numbers and in multiple locations. How do you keep an unblinking eye on field sales activity without really being there? How do you make sure the meetings are happening on time? Ultimately, how do you measure performance? 

field force management software illustration

The simple answer to these questions is field force management software. It  helps you manage your entire field sales team by tracking their activities, travel, meetings, and more. It keeps you in the loop of everything you want to know and makes your field sales an efficient unit.  

Here are some of the features that make field management software an extremely important aspect of field force management. 

how to improve field sales

Important Features of Field Force Management Software  

Investing in technology offers both short-term and long-term rewards. Tracking is not the only thing you can expect from a field management software. It also helps you guide your field sales reps to be more productive and efficient by optimizing their routes, meetings, and plans for the day.  

Understand your leads better  Field Force Management Software  - Understand your leads better

With a field management software, you can track your lead’s behavior and activities from your mobile phone. This includes the web pages they visited, the links they clicked on your website, the time they spent on certain pages and hence, what part of your offerings they’re interested in. 

These details arm your sales team to finetune their pitch in approaching these prospects. Since they already know what they want they can prepare for the meeting which increases the likelihood of a positive response. 

Work on the go
Field Force Management Software  - Work on the go

The mobile nature of the field force management software ensures that you and your field sales reps can work from anywhere. With the mobile app, you can automatically sync calls, emails, and texts in your mobile phone with the mobile software, which in this case is the LeadSquared field sales app. 

Travel with your team using live geo-tracking Field Force Management Software  - Travel with your team using live geo-tracking

With a geo-tracking enabled field force management app, you do not have to physically be there with your team to know what they are doing on the field. You can sit in your office and track everything on your desktop – the places they travel to, the distance they traveled, the people they meet.

What’s more? Even the meeting notes are updated in real-time, regardless of where they are. All of this information as gathered from the platform gives you a bird’s-eye view of your field force. 

 

Field Force Management Software  - Get real-time automated notifications
There is really no excuse for the missed sales meetings and follow-ups. With a robust field force management software, you can get alerts about upcoming events and tasks that need to be completed at different intervals. For instance, an update on a meeting with a client in a cross-country location can be sent an hour beforehand and thirty minutes afterward. This allows you to get a proper hold of yourself with timely preparations for such meetings.

 

Find leads nearest to your sales reps Field Force Management Software  - Find leads nearest to your sales reps

Optimize your route better with lead’s location mapping. While in a particular location for a meeting, the software can provide a recommendation of leads existing in the same location. This could result in more meetings in much lesser travel miles. 

Also, it comes in handy when a pre-scheduled meeting is canceled by a lead for one reason or the other. The sales rep can quickly slot into another engagement in the same location.  

 

Enable your field force to work offline Field Force Management Software  - Enable your field force to work offline

It is not rare for sales reps to find themselves in areas without an internet connection. As far as LeadSquared is concerned, this should be no reason why you can’t perform important sales activity, hence it is the only CRM in the world that syncs important data offline. 

  

Conclusion 

Managing a huge field force is not a piece of cake. One aspect is to keep a close eye on what they are doing, another one is to coach them to be more efficient. Real-time notifications and tracking is an icing on the cake. By implementing a solid field force management system, one that operates on both desktop and mobile platforms and syncs with your CRM seamlessly, you are not only making a dynamic field force but a more connected ecosystem.