Redefining The Sales Pipeline

The sales pipeline goes beyond what the salesperson does.  Traditional sales relies heavily on phone or face time with a prospect.  The sales pipeline is then based on opportunities filled with sales activities by a salesperson who has to interrupt enough people and stoke their interest for a future close date.  The sales manager then ensures there is reporting by each person to account for what will close and that each deal is moving along.

Here is the problem with traditional sales pipelines – it does not account for buying; it accounts for selling.  When you buy, do you need a salesperson engaged at all times?  The truth is that most products and services today are bought, not sold.  With information at our fingertips on the internet, buyers are able to self-service their own needs.  Sales activities go beyond what your salesperson does.  The buyer’s digital markers need to be integrated into your sales pipeline data for effective sales management.

Sales Activities Include Buying Signals

If you have a long sales cycle, perhaps six months, how many times can you call your prospect per week without being inappropriate?  More than once a week would be disruptive.  We are all busy.  We do not want to be interrupted.  Caller ID is the buyer’s tool for blocking out any unwanted calls.

If you did call, what would you talk about?  A six month sales cycle may mean 26 weeks.  If you have already had a call to orient your buyer and they have still not decided or they are needing to sell internally to their team, then getting more calls to pressure them to buy now is annoying.  They know why you are calling.  It is not welcome.

However, what is the buyer doing during the time of their initial interest to when they will close?  They are researching.  They want information.  They want value. They are seeking to become personally comfortable with your offering and your brand.  The salesperson used to have access and opportunity to provide such services.  That was when we all had more attention.  The buyer may still be buying without sales engagement and this data is just as important as a logged activity.

Digital Sales Pipeline Management

The new sales pipeline has buyer records that contain two types of information – personal touchpoints and digital footprints.  Personal touchpoints are the traditional methods of phone and in-person engagement.  We need less of this today.  Growing an outbound sales organization is expensive and challenging to manage.  Furthermore, with automation and tools available today, a few salespeople can accomplish what traditionally required many more hands on deck in the past.  The salesperson’s touchpoints will be comparatively few to service prospects when they require such assistance and engagement – consultations, proposals, information requests, etc.

Digital footprints should be automated and record the movements of your pipeline buyers.  Different triggers and decision trees will guide their experience with the right information at the right time.  Each piece of digital behavior should be captured in the sales record along with personal touchpoints.

The content the buyer reads, the downloads they review, or the marketing automation processes they engage should record their process, score them and trigger your sales team.  This pipeline is much more extensive and indicative of where your buyer is truly at.  All the activities that your team takes with the buyer and your buyer takes with your content build the sales pipeline to help you understand who the top deals are and how close they are to closing.

The sales pipeline today is a combination of what the buyer is doing and what your salesperson is doing.  Your buyer’s readiness to close should capture probabilities based on how both sets of data affect your true pipeline.  This data is available in real-time today and equips the sales manager to forecast with greater clarity as they can peer into the digital movements buyers prefer to augment your sales team’s engagement.

How would your sales pipeline management be enhanced from incorporating digital data?

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Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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