Using Sales Pipelines: Introduction
Your sales process is the lifeline of your business, an integral aspect that a company can’t live without. It’s the Thames, or the Nile, to your city of prospects. And like a boat on the choppy waters of the Channel, you have to guide your prospect through the process, making sure they know how to get there, and what they’re crossing the river for.
Not knowing your sales process would be like sailing a paddleboat across the Channel. It’s theoretically possible, but do you really need to subject you and your colleagues to a journey like that? Even better—what if you could have some stepping stones rising out of the Channel for you? With a way forward already on display, all you’d need to do would be to show your prospects how to get across.
How different is it to use stepping stones over a paddleboat? And how can you get from the latter to the former? In this article, we’ll be looking at how sales pipelines can have an effect on your sales process management, and the clarity that gives you for your sales.
Working with a Paddleboat
Notes: The Here, There and Everywhere
Lots of small businesses manage their sales process from multiple sources, making notes on everything from individual prospects to larger business functions. Making notes is great—it helps your RAS—but problems can arise when it comes to storing, and retrieving, this information.
Being able to access these notes and recall all the right information—especially the context behind them—is easier said than done. Having notes and information spread over multiple sources can muddle things, and slow down the process of selling. You may not know who benefits from what, as you risk missing out on vital pieces of information you’ve either not yet found or have lost. This will affect your ability to foster that relationship with a prospect.
In an ideal world, retrieving notes wouldn’t be so detached, and would be a quick step in your sales process that is necessary to complete your tasks; a step that becomes second nature to you.
Data: The Never Ending List
If you don’t have a solid clear and simple process in place, it can be hard to know which prospect needs your attention. This is especially true if your methods of storing information—and by this, I mean your prospect list—aren’t easily accessed.
Building up a contact list takes time, and over the course of your business it will have grown significantly. Again, small businesses often store contacts in a variety of places, or use their lists as a one-stop shop without understanding if what you are saying to the contact is relevant to them or not. This then becomes a long, long list; because it has evolved over time, you’re not sure who’s in there and why. As a result, you often become hesitant to go through it to rectify any problems, just in case it overwrites something you need either now or in the future.
But small businesses thrive when they know their data, because their sales processes are much more airtight.
Processes: Relying on Intuition
Going back to the paddleboat analogy: if you’re in a paddleboat, you’re probably one the person keeping things afloat. You are the power and the push, with no extra engine to help you. Your sales start and stop with you and your capabilities; with your availability; with your memory and your intuition.
This works, of course—you are still able to transport prospects in your paddleboat!—but you put yourself at risk of overload, and burnout. Relying on something you can’t visualise means you’re giving yourself twice as much work!
Constantly playing catchup with your sales process, having so much in the air—it puts you on the back foot, permanently.
So how do you go from keeping up with your sales to mastering your sales process management?
Simply—by bringing sales pipelines into the equation.
Sales Pipelines: Finding The Stepping Stones
Sales pipelines provide a much more tangible approach to your sales process. You’re not expending energy trying to find the path across the Channel; you have your own path laid out before you. You’re given more time, more energy, and more optimistic chances, to show your prospect the way.
Sales pipelines declutter: they make the process of marketing, and selling, clearer for you. When you approach your prospect with more preparation, and a clearer view on how to contact them, your selling gets better as a result.
Sales Pipelines: Visualisation
With sales pipelines, you’re not pushing up against the tide. The stepping stones provide clarity, ground that you can see, that you can land on time and time again. The surety of the steps frees you to put your mind towards the other aspects of selling—namely, and most importantly, the relationship part of your selling. You can put in the effort to truly nurture your prospect and make yourself and your business unforgettable.
Sales pipelines give a visual overview of what’s actually going on, solidifying what you knew beforehand. You don’t just guess—you can see it, and that surety makes all the difference.
You don’t just know where your prospects are. You know where they’ll be going next; what they need, and what you need to know to achieve that. Simply put: if you can see, you can know!
Sales Pipelines: Accessible Notes
You can take a step closer towards that ideal world of taking notes, thanks to the opportunities sales pipelines provide. They no longer have to be in multiple places, at risk of being left behind or losing context. By staying attached to the contact’s profile, you have them all in one convenient place, and they help to build up the bigger picture for your prospect in real time.
Accessing your notes easily, at any time, means it won’t become a huge task in itself to search for, to upload, or to understand the notes. They can fulfil their potential to fully prepare you for your interactions with your prospect—whether these are direct conversations, digital marketing, or simply building up a picture of who that prospect is as a person so you can nurture that relationship in the future.
Sales Pipelines: Cleaner Prospect List, Clearer Mind
Because you’ve got your sales pipelines visualised for you, you can see how the data attached to your contacts is affecting your prospects as it happens. Got a duplicate? That’ll turn up, so you can correct the information. Your prospect not progressing when they need to be? Maybe they’ve not got all the information about you that they want. You can check on other prospects to see the actions they took, as well as everything you and your team have done before you progressed them along the pipeline.
With sales pipelines, you can make sure all of your contacts are there for a reason. That way, you can make the most of where they are, and market, nurture and convert them, using the techniques that you know work well for you and your business.
Sales pipelines provide the opportunity to clarify what you need to guide your prospects towards a sale. Instead of expending your effort on pushing a paddleboat through the water, your actions are solid, successful, and easy to follow. They put the sales process right in front of you, showing every step you know you need to take to get your prospects across to the other side. Sure and clear, you can be confident that you can focus your time and efforts on the prospects who are ready to buy and that you will always know why.
Click here to see how popcorn’s simple sales pipelines can mirror your sales process, so you convert more sales faster.