You’re got your business going, you’ve got momentum and are generating leads and prospects. It’s now crucial to the success of your business to manage your sales pipeline and its many moving parts effectively.
Get a CRM
The best way to do this is to think of the sales process as if you’re feeding a large funnel with lots of leads at the top, some of which you will convert into deals that drop out of the bottom. There are a number of stages along the way as leads get qualified into prospects and opportunities and then get converted into deals. To make sense of and track the sales pipe it’s a good idea to have a CRM in place. Typically these days the basic versions are free, and are accessible anytime, anywhere on any browser enabled device.
The beauty of having a CRM is it gives you visibility of the whole pipeline and provides helpful analytics and reports so you can get timely insights into conversion rates at various stages of the sales process. Not only does this give you a really good sense of what's going on, you can see where effort is needed to get more deals over the line. Other members of the team - developers, project managers and bean counters also benefit from the visibility a CRM provides as they can see what’s coming down the pipe and can plan accordingly.
Qualify it in or out
Another key component of using a CRM is it makes you more hard-nosed about qualifying opportunities as they move down the pipeline or funnel. It forces you to ask the potential customer the key question at the right time - is it a yes or is it a no. Often it’s easy to spend too much time on an opportunity optimistically hoping it will turn into a deal when the prospective customer has no intention of saying yes. Not only does this lead to disappointment, but it wastes your most valuable resource - your time, and gets in the way of chasing other deals. Sometimes you just need to move on.
So don’t be afraid to push for a no, if may be the best thing you do. Qualifying out is as important as qualifying in.