A sales pipeline is a predetermined series of steps that help you push the sales forward. It is often a graphical chart to represent the lead journey. Pipeline management is crucial to keep a sales pipeline healthy, especially while adding new leads.

pipeline-management-what is a sales pipeline

If you see, taking a single lead through each step of the sales pipeline is relatively straightforward. You know your goals, you know the requirements, and you only have to keep track of where that person is within the pipeline. But, adding the second and third lead will make the process complicated. Because you will now have to track each individual – not just where they are in the pipeline, but also their wants and needs, and what is necessary to get them progressed. When you reach the level of having a hundred or more people in your sales pipeline, managing them becomes a lot harder.

pipeline-management- lead-details

There are a few ways of managing your pipeline effectively. You can keep notes on paper, spreadsheets, or use CRM software. Whatever you choose, you not only need to record the information but also need to act on it. If managing multiple leads is like juggling eggs, ineffective pipeline management is like trying to catch them all in one hand.

Here are some tips for effective sales pipeline management.

Treat each lead as an individual

You can see the lead stage in the pipeline even with the most basic record-keeping methods. From this, you can work out what you need to do to get them to the next stage. However, if this is your only strategy, then you must be missing out on several opportunities.
Every lead will have different requirements, a different history, and a different budget. You can build a better relationship with each of them only when you treat them as an individual.

pipeline-management-treat-each-lead-as -an-individual

Let us take an example.
You have planned a promotional email campaign. You send the same message to thousands of people without segmenting them based on their preferences/interests. It will be a waste of effort as the recipients could not relate to the message. Also, blasting such emails may alert spam filters of email service providers. And then you will wonder why people don’t respond to your emails.

That is why you need to understand every individual’s preferences and segment them accordingly. It will help you craft personalized emails and other marketing campaigns.

Give it a thought – when you have put tremendous efforts to find those leads, why not put a little more effort to make them feel valued. And personalizing communication is the simplest way to do that.

Keep every detail intact

While talking to your prospects, make sure to keep notes of what they tell you. It is easy to forget small details and information, and the next time you get in touch, you may have forgotten what they wanted.
If your lead has to keep giving you the same information, again and again, they will soon get frustrated. Similarly, if you put forward a proposal that ignores what they asked for, you won’t be able to close the deal.

pipeline-management-Keep every detail intact

Attention to detail will impart a positive impression on your lead. It will help them trust your business. In turn, you will be able to close deals faster.

Learn to identify sales-ready leads

pipeline-management-learn-to-identify- -good-leads

Of course, the goal of the sales pipeline is to convert every lead into a customer. However, different leads have different conversion patterns. For instance, a lead who has subscribed to your newsletter might not be sales-ready. On the other hand, a lead who has browsed your product page and tried to contact you for demo has more chances of conversion.

By monitoring the pipeline closely, you will learn to identify leads that have the potential to convert immediately.

Note these patterns. Refer to them often.
Being able to spot such leads will help you with the overall cash flow of the business. I am not saying that you should ignore other leads. But be aware that prioritizing sales-ready leads will give you more time to work on the hard deals.

Effective pipeline management has helped our admission counselors prioritize and reach the most engaged leads first. 

– Kim Gasper, Corporate Director of Admissions, Asher College.

Read the case study.

Set up systems to save time

pipeline-management-set-up-systems-to-save-time

Using a digital system (online services, CRM, etc.) to manage your pipeline will save a lot of time in the long run. You will not have to sift through pieces of paper to find what you need. Nor will you have to resort to a calculator to find out ROI or any other metric you wish to track.

With a CRM system in place, you can generate reports in just a few clicks. You can even automate daily/weekly/monthly report generation.
You can also receive timely reminders on what the next thing is that you need to do. This way, you can focus more on the task at hand.

If you are a part of a sales team, then the information you record in the CRM system can be accessible to other team members. With a consistent information flow, every team member remains on the same page.

According to a LinkedIn study, 25% of sales reps change roles every year. Therefore, if somebody else has to follow-up with your prospect, they will have the full context of your interactions with them.

Thus, having software for sales pipeline management can help you streamline sales and build a better relationship with them.

Analyze and Improve

You must be already having an efficient process for sales pipeline management. Still, there will always be a scope of improvement.

Track and measure your activities and try to figure out how you can improve them further.
For instance, gather your salesforce and review reports. Find out what is working well and what is not. Identify bottlenecks that might be delaying the lead response time.
Automate manual processes and work on making your sales pipeline management more efficient. All these will help you build a scalable business of tomorrow.

pipeline-management-analyze-and-improve

If you want to automate your sales pipeline management, try LeadSquared Sales Execution CRM – designed for a high-velocity sales environment.


FAQs

What is sales pipeline management software?

Sales Pipeline Management Software is a business tool that provides salespeople visibility into the sales process. It tracks the entire sales process – from the time the lead enters your system to conversion and beyond. Businesses generally use CRM software for sales pipeline management.

What is the sales pipeline in CRM?

A sales pipeline is a visual representation of where the leads are in the sales process. It also shows you how many deals salespeople are expected to close in a given week, month, or quarter and how close a rep is to reaching their sales targets.

Admission teams are often faced with the lead generation challenge in higher education. Learn the best practices for lead generation in higher education, the challenges that come with it, and ways to tackle that, in this webinar.

In this session, Belmond Victor from Wisoft Solutions and Ashish Gupta from LeadSquared, talk about –

  • Understanding parent psychology to get more admissions
  • Planning for Word of Mouth
  • Leveraging technology for more conversions

About the speakers:

Belmond is a Digital Marketing Strategist who helps brands with digital transformation and go to market strategies. He comes with over 12 years of experience working with clients across US, APAC and South East Asia. He has worked with brands like Nanyang Business School, UCLA, Kaplan Education, Manipal Education in the Education space.

​Ashish has a wealth of experience when it comes to sales and customer account management. He has spent a good number of years working in the SaaS industry, as a mareting, sales and customer support professional. Ashish interacts with users like you every day and knows exactly which reports you should be looking at, to identify sales and marketing channels that are generating leads for you, and those that aren’t.

Here’s the deck used for the session.

Sales software and CRM - Banner

A sales software is a digital application that helps businesses to streamline, optimize and speed up the entire lifecycle of selling their products. It helps ensure that sales representatives have access to tools and features that help them achieve their key performance sales indices.

As in the case of the application, a sales software can be analogous to a tool helping increase the chances of acquiring paying customers. As we all know, the fact that you have the best or prettiest product does not guarantee popularity or exposure. Sales representatives know that generating leads is not enough, as it is imperative to identify the most promising of those leads. This will help with the efficient use of sales resource and increase the chances of conversion to paying customers.

What is the difference between Sales Software and CRM?

There are often misinterpretations between sales software and customer relationship management software, and we will clear this misconception here.

CRM software is a digital tool used to manage interaction with customers right from their initial contact with the firm up until after the sale is made. CRM infuses marketing to generate leads and interact with potential customers. CRM also includes following up on these prospects until they reach the sales cycle bit. This is where Sales software comes in.

Sales software helps businesses manage every aspect of the sales cycle from inquiries and orders, all the way to invoicing and payment. After sales, CRM continues interaction with customers via promotions and regular communication.

Essentially, CRM can be thought of as software that helps with interaction pre-sale and post-sale.

Key features of sales software

We will explore some of the most important features to look out for in a sale software below:

Key features of sales software - Info-graphic

Data Analytics: Data is fast becoming a very critical part of every process in business. This is no different in sales. Data from sales prospects need to be analyzed in order to understand their intent and score them. Such analysis can also be used to gain insight into prospects and identify new possible opportunities.

Sales Activity Report: Previous sales activity reports should be easily accessible on a sales software. This will help the business and sales representatives to keep track of past sales and easily reconcile accounts.

Order to Payment: Sales software should be able to manage every interaction with customers’ right from when they place an order or inquire about your service till when they make a payment for the service.

Inventory management: Another very important feature of sales software is the ability to manage and update inventory as they are being sold. This will help sales representatives stay ahead of customers and reduce shortage costs.

360-view of prospects: You need a sales software that gives a broad and narrow view of prospects. This will help you create personalize sales approaches towards these prospects, thus increasing chances of conversion. Sales representatives want to understand prospects in an in-depth manner, and good sales software helps them achieve this. In addition to these, one should also be able to filter prospects according to different options like geography, age, and other demographic data.

Integration with other software: Sales software do not work alone as they need data from various other departments of a company. This is why you need a sales software that can be integrated with your other software – marketing, contact management, social media, and so on.

Security: Security is another very important feature of sales software. You would be dealing with a lot of sensitive customer and business data, so the last thing you want is a leak of such sensitive information.

Ease of Use: It is imperative that the sales software is very easy to use. You do not want sales representatives spending months learning how to use a new software as that will reduce productivity and increase the chances of mistakes.

 


Importance of investing in sales software

Importance of investing in sales software - Info-graphic

Organization: Using sales software ensures that all your prospects and customer information are in one place. This organization helps reduce data duplication and helps to create a unified approach to sales management.

Improved sales efficiency: The efficiency of sales operations are improved with the use of sales software. The unification, streamlining and optimization of the sales process with this digital application makes everything more efficient.

Improved Collaboration within the company: Sales software interacts with almost every process and department in the company, so it will help foster collaboration and interaction amongst staff.

Enhanced understanding of customers: The amount of prospect and customer data is more than enough for one to understand the needs of these customers and discover hidden opportunities for more products or services.

Satisfaction of sales representatives and customers: When sales representatives are productive, their satisfaction and happiness go up. The same can be said of prospects and customers when they are served well. Sales software enhances the satisfaction of both parties.

More accurate sales forecast: With good sales software, businesses can easily forecast sales and other business metrics based on their activities. The best part about these forecasts is that they are more accurate than those without sales software.


Conclusion

As you can see, the importance of a sales software cannot be overemphasized. There are several features to consider when looking to decide on a sales software, all of which have been explored in this article. Also, the benefits accruing from the use of this software are also outlined and meticulously explained. Whether you need to put yourself out there or handle the numerous requests you are receiving from prospects, sales software can help you.

On-premise VS Online Sales Management Software - Banner

While selecting a new sales management software for your business, one of the most important factors which you should consider is whether you’ll choose to have your software on-premise or online.  

Online sales management software is now more common than ever before, but on-premise software have their fair share of benefits too.
 

To understand which platform would be best for your business, let’s look at the requirements list: –  

Understanding your requirements

Before you set out to choose a sales management software, there are some pointers which you’d need to keep in mind: –  

  • Are you willing to shed out a huge sum as set up costs as all the hardware and servers for running the sales management software?
     
  • Are you willing to have a developer on your payroll who would constantly work on maintaining your software?
     
  • How confidential is the data that you will be handling and how important is security to your business?
     
  • Is your business constantly expanding? In which case, would you require continuous upgrades and customization?
     
  • Is your business spread across different locations or are you planning on spreading your business across different locations?
     
  • Do you require to check different types of reports on a day to day basis?
     
  • Are you looking to constantly track all your field sales agents? 

Did I overwhelm you with all those questions? My bad! :P  

Let me help you figure out which system would be best for your business by answering each of the above questions.  

On-premise vs Online Sales Management Software 

 

Setup cost  On-premise VS Online Sales Management Software - Setup cost

Onpremise Sales Management Software 
 

  • A hefty setup cost is involved for building an on-premise software. These costs may start from as high as $10,000 and can go up based upon requirement. This involves all the hardware, server and cost of creating a sales management software from scratch.
     
  • With on-premise sales management software, upgrade or customization can be very expensive and deployment of these upgrades may take a while.
     
  • On-premise software requires constant maintenance. This can be costly for a small or medium sized business.
     
  • On the bright hand side, if you have many users, then you can save money. Online platforms charge you based on the number of users. Building your own software can be prudent in the long run. 

Online Sales Management Software 

  • There is no need to dish out a huge sum as set up costs as all the hardware and servers for running the software are hosted by the vendor. This makes online sales management software a more economical choice. 
  • Online sales management software charges you per user. The charge per user can be as low as $25/user/month. This is a more economical choice for small and medium-sized businesses.
     
  • The customization of the software is easy and readily available.  It can be deployed almost instantly. The cost incurred for such customization is very minimal as compared to its counterpart.
     
  • You don’t have to worry about maintenance and the additional costs and hassle that come with it, as it is the responsibility of the vendor. This again makes online sales management software a more feasible choice. 

Data Confidentiality and Access

On-premise VS Online Sales Management Software - Data Confidentiality and Access

On-premise Sales Management Software
 You get complete control of all your data and systems. You needn’t worry about data theft, as your data is not hosted on a third-party server. The limitation with every on-premise software is that you cannot access your data while on the go.

Online Sales Management Software 

Businesses are usually hesitant when it comes to storing their data on a third-party cloud. Always ensure that you choose a reliable and secure vendor. You can have unlimited and easy access to your data irrespective of where you log in from. Hosting data on a cloud allows all users to easily access the data from any device. You also have the option to restrict the data access to your users based on your hierarchy. 


Developer Cost

On-premise VS Online Sales Management Software - Developer Cost

On-premise Sales Management Software

 If you opt for having an on-premise software, then you’ll need to have a developer who would constantly work on maintaining your software from time to time. The Developer would take care of upgrades and other technological glitches. Having a developer for the sole purpose of managing your on-premise software means burning a hole in the pocket for small and medium-sized businesses.  

 

Online Sales Management Software

An online sales management software saves you the hassle of hiring an additional employee on your payroll. Moreover, you needn’t worry about maintenance and the additional costs and hassle that come with it, as it is the responsibility of the vendor.  The vendor also takes care of upgrades and other technological glitches ensuring a hassle-free experience for you.


 

Scalability 

On-premise VS Online Sales Management Software - Scalability

 On-premise Sales Management Software

Scaling up an on-premise software is a very costly option. It involves cost of manpower, resources and ends up burning a huge hole on your pocket. It might not be feasible to scale up the software to just add a user or two.  

 

Online Sales Management Software

You can scale up or down an online sales management software based on your business requirement easily. Online software gives you the freedom to select the plans based upon your requirement. 


Geographically spread teams

Geographically spread teams

On-premise Sales Management Software
 It is very difficult and costly to build an on-premise sales management software for teams which spread across different geographical locations. Moreover, a lot of time is taken for any upgrades or customization to be deployed across every location. The data processed across different sales teams take time to be visible to others, which can lead to inefficient sales tracking.  

Online Sales Management Software  

Online sales management software can be easily used by different geographical teams. The data being generated across different locations are accessible to everyone in real time. This means that your Headquarters in New York can instantly see a sale won in Arizona. 


 

Reports 

 Sales management software automated reports


On-
premise Sales Management Software

a. As your business evolves, you would be required to keep track of various sales KPIs. This would require you to create different reports over time as your business evolves. Creating new reports and deploying them on your on-premise sales software is a very challenging task. Moreover, if your sales teams are spread across the globe, then your reports won’t be accurate in real time as sync of data is delayed in on-premise systems. Moreover, creating new reports and debugging them is expensive as well.

Online Sales Management Software 

An online sales management software comes with a plethora of reports for businesses of every size. Your vendor has a dedicated reporting team which constantly creates new reports and debugs them from time to time. If you require any custom report, tailored exactly to your requirements, then your vendors can create them at a very minimal price. You wouldn’t have to pay any additional cost for timely maintenance and debugging.


 

Field Sales Tracking  Field Sales Tracking

On-premise Sales Management Software

 In an on-premise sales management software, creating mobile apps to track your sales agent can be a hard task as all your data is hosted on an on-premise server. Creating and deploying a mobile app takes a lot of time.  

 

Online Sales Management Software 

Hosting data on cloud allows you to create mobile apps to track your field sales reps. These apps take data from cloud servers while on the go. It can be hosted on app stores and downloaded by your team allowing you to manage your sales reps in real time. 

 

 Conclusion 

 Both the systems have their own pros and cons. However, the pros of an online sales management software overweigh its counterpart – making it a more viable choice for a constantly growing business. To manage your sales efficiently from any part of the globe – try LeadSquared!