At first glance, it may seem like cleaning out your sales pipeline is a bad idea. After all, the ultimate goal of pipeline management is to maximize your company's sales effectiveness by closing as many deals as possible. However, for most businesses, it is better to focus attention on qualified leads than it is too spread your sales team's attention too thin nurturing leads that are not as likely to end in a sale.
The Importance of a Clean Pipeline
Your sales team has a finite amount of time to follow up with prospects and push them through the pipeline. The more leads the pipeline holds at one time, the less attention each lead will receive from your sales team. In many cases, this oversaturation will cause you to lose qualified leads to competitors because your sales team was wasting time nurturing lukewarm prospects that might never have moved forward.
On the other hand, zeroing in on those prospects in your pipeline that are most likely to become customers ensures that you don't miss out on sales you could have made if you had only spent more time with your most qualified leads. Although this focus requires you to set some less qualified prospects aside, it ultimately results in better sales outcomes for your company.
How to Keep it Moving
Cleaning your pipeline requires the dismissal of certain leads in favor of others that hold more potential. The most important part of this cleansing process involves correctly identifying the leads that are most likely to move through the pipeline to closure . The method you use to evaluate your leads will determine the effectiveness of your pipeline cleansing and, ultimately, the effectiveness of your sales process. It is important to use a method of evaluation that is consistent, accurate and reliable.
One of the best ways to evaluate leads is through the use of insight sales data. With this approach, you can develop a standardized, quantifiable evaluation process that will allow you to determine which leads hold the most potential and which are unlikely to close. Because the Insight Sales Process™ allows you to evaluate leads objectively, it offers greater accuracy than subjective review or relying on the sales reps’ opinion of the probability of the opportunity closing.
After appraising the leads in your pipeline using your unique Insight Sales Panel™, you will have two important metrics: The Completeness Score and the Insight Sales Index. These will accurately rank each opportunity in your pipeline for it’s potential for conversion. Focus your sales team's attention on those leads that have the highest potential and set the others aside. Repeat this process on a regular basis to ensure that your pipeline is flowing smoothly at all times.
Handling the Cast Outs
No company wants to let go of a lead, even if the lead doesn't seem very promising at the time. However, removing a low ranking opportunity from your pipeline is not the same as giving up on it. Instead, you are simply setting the lead aside to help your team focus on higher priority activities.
Although you won't be focusing as much attention on these "cast out" leads as you will on the ones that remain in your pipeline, you should consider further qualification and automated nurturing campaigns that do not take sales time.
Cleansing your pipeline will become an important ongoing strategy that will help keep your sales team focused and will improve their sales effectiveness and your company’s performance.
Want to learn more? Find out why your sales pipeline is not accurately forecasted.