Struggling with the sales pipeline? Here’s why

With the amount of time and number of resources your sales team has, it seems like your employees should be readily able to move leads through the sales pipeline and close deals. As a sales manager, you’ve probably noticed that this isn’t usually the case. It could be the result of your sales process, or your representatives may not have the tools they need to attract new customers. If movement in your sales pipeline is sluggish, it may be time to assess processes and reps’ productivity levels.

Significant problems in the sales pipeline could be the result of a lack of productivity, according to a blog post for Accent Technologies written by John Fakatselis. With 215 selling days per year, you can’t create more selling time. Boosting sales productivity can translate to higher revenue gains, but a study from CSO Insights indicated that selling time is actually decreasing. The survey revealed that sales reps only spend 37 percent of their potential selling time engaged in one-on-one conversations with prospects, whether in person or over the phone. In 1998, sales professionals spent nearly half their time on one-on-one selling activities.

Why the decline?

This decline in selling time is more troubling when you consider that sales organizations have access to more advanced marketing technology than they did 15 years ago. Fakatselis suggested that these tools have created more distractions. Reps are simply getting overwhelmed with all the resources that are intended to promote productivity. So, what are sales professionals doing instead of selling? Many spend an extended amount of time creating presentation documents. The majority of salespeople’s days are spent on activities that don’t generate revenue, such as administrative tasks.

This issue may be because your team doesn’t know where to look for high-quality leads or worse, they don’t know qualified leads when they see them. Not having insight into what makes a quality lead could result in wasting a great deal of time cold-calling uninterested prospects.

Many sales organizations are intimidated by change, and some managers incorrectly think that adopting an online marketing system would mean making a sacrifice. Reps would either have to spend more time researching individual leads and creating unique marketing materials and less time on one-on-one selling or devote all their time to personalized selling at the expense of getting to know prospects to determine how to approach them.

How can you enable productivity without overwhelming your sales team?

Productivity is an issue that needs to be resolved so your company can grow over time. Before making a major overhaul, you should define your sales process. A basic outline can alleviate some of the confusion and ensure your entire team is on the same page, Jason Jordan wrote in a blog post for Salesforce. Some reps may have a different style or approach to selling, but a standardized framework can help you provide a more consistent experience for customers. There should be a clear understanding of what stage of the sales cycle a potential deal is in across the entire team. A lack of a defined process can put this in jeopardy.

Another issue may be sales managers do not have enough training to truly understand the sales pipeline, according to Jordan. Companies that provide coaching regarding this key concern can see higher revenue growth. If your firm handles the sales pipeline in a more efficient way, it can translate to better sales productivity. Managers and sales reps need to constantly keep the sales pipeline in mind when determining marketing efforts, how to pitch to clients and how to close the deal.

Technology can enable sales reps to accomplish more in one day, but companies need to streamline their software and resource choices to avoid a tech overload, Fakatselis wrote. One streamlined marketing automation platform may be able to reduce the distractions, cut down on busy work and create better visibility. Most of these solutions can integrate with your existing customer relationship management software, which enables improved access to data. One of the biggest benefits of marketing automation for sales teams is eliminating repetitive tasks that take reps away from revenue-generating activities. These platforms can automatically send lead-nurturing emails when prospects engage in a particular behavior, such as multiple visits to the product pages on your website. The features of this technology allow sales reps to spend more of their time on the phone with warm prospects or in face-to-face meetings.

Taking time-consuming manual tasks out of the equation can help your sales team create a more personalized approach to selling. B2B buyers are more particular about companies treating them as individuals, and this needs to be reflected in any conversations they have with sales reps. Marketing automation helps your team stay on the same page.