Expert Pipeline Nurturing Strategies with Salesforce
The health of your business depends on the integrity of your sales pipeline. CRM systems like Salesforce make managing your pipeline and nurturing leads far more achievable goals, but your efforts may be less fruitful without an effective strategy. To ensure that your sales and revenue numbers continue to grow, make a concerted effort to implement informed pipeline nurturing strategies that consider your business's unique nature.
Understanding Sales Pipelines
Your sales pipeline is a symbolic representation of each stage of your overall sales process. The purpose of a sales pipeline is to provide your sales team with a tangible image of the current sales process. Through an accurate sales pipeline, your team should be able to see which opportunities are present at each point of the sales process.
- Using your sales pipeline, you should be capable of:
- Generating insight into the overall sales process
- Measuring the performance of various team members
- Predict future revenue
- Identify weaknesses in your current sales process
Creating a Sales Pipeline in Salesforce
Salesforce users can create unique sales pipelines that depict the various stages of their sales process.
- To create a sales pipeline in Salesforce, you must:
- Determine what stages exist in your sales pipeline
- Create opportunity stages throughout the pipeline
- Customize each opportunity field based on your precise needs
- Identify work opportunities
Here is a more in-depth breakdown of each stage:
Determine what stages exist in your sales pipeline
Every sales pipeline must have defined stages that mark what part of the sales process each lead is positioned in. To determine what stages exist in your pipeline, think about the different points each lead must reach as they go from strangers to actual customers. These are the stages that each customer will progress through after making contact with your company.
Often, companies will choose six stages. They can also expand the number of stages based on their leads and opportunities.
- Examples of sales pipeline stages you can implement:
- Sales Pipeline Stages to track your leads:
- Lead generation
- Lead qualification
- Engagement or meeting with leed
- Proposal pitch or contract offer
- Negotiating a deal
- Closing the deal
Understand that these steps are separate from the exact stages of your sales funnel. Instead, they are specific stages that will occur throughout the sales process. Also, companies operating a larger sales team may require additional stages in their pipeline.
Create opportunity stages throughout the pipeline
Now that the stages of your pipeline are noted, you need to set up your opportunity stages within Salesforce. First, create each stage in your pipeline using the Salesforce software. Then, assign a probability to each stage for the best results.
Customize each opportunity field based on your precise needs
By creating custom fields for each stage of the sales pipeline, you can track records that improve efficiency in your sales process. This ensures that your sales team leverages every opportunity to record data.
- Some customized fields that you may need to consider adding include:
- Custom fields you may need to add:
- The role of the contact
- What the contact needs
- The contact's timeline
With this information on hand, sales representatives should be equipped to make better decisions. This is an essential part of nurturing your sales pipeline.
Identify work opportunities using your pipeline
Now that the system is in place, you can begin leading opportunities through your pipeline. This can be done by either:
- Begin leading opportunities through your pipeline by:
- Adding opportunities manually or;
- Using a marketing automation tool that automatically inputs leads into Salesforce.
Salesforce offers a variety of methods for manipulating these opportunities once they have been entered into the system. For example, each opportunity can be named, given a date, and suited with a range of other information.
Managing Your Salesforce Pipeline
The purpose of your sales pipeline is to nurture leads and convert them into sales. This process consists of several steps, each outlined in your Salesforce pipeline. Still, although the process is clearly outlined, your team should be informed of what objectives they are working to achieve as leads work their way through the pipeline.
Here are some objectives you can leverage in your pipeline nurturing strategy:
Focus on building relationships
To sell products, you must assert credibility and gain the trust of your target consumers. Don't just look at each opportunity as a number. Instead, encourage your sales representatives to build relationships when possible. This allows your organization to create valuable connections, a strategy proven to drive sales.
The benefit of building relationships is that it removes some of the necessity of "selling" your products. Rather than directly pushing for sales, guide your sales team toward building trust with leads. Once that trusting foundation is established, leads that actually need your product or service will need little persuasion to convert.
Specify the sales process
After creating your sales pipeline in Salesforce, you may notice that certain steps are redundant or even unnecessary. The beauty of CRM software is that it allows you to track data that will provide insight into the effectiveness of your current system. Upon determining that extra steps are being taken, you can remove those steps to fine-tune your overall process.
It is important to recognize that the best sales strategies are straightforward and easily repeatable. If your current strategy does not achieve those goals, put some effort into identifying what could be made smoother. Ideally, each part of your sales process should be designed to counteract a certain pain point for your customers, clients, or employees.
Analyze your data
Most companies track data, but few take the necessary measures to process and analyze that data. The companies that choose to ignore their data are doing themselves a great disservice. By monitoring key sales metrics in your CRM, you can justify each pipeline stage and use your insights to improve the sales cycle.
- Using Salesforce, a number of valuable KPIs can be tracked, including:
- Average deal size
- Conversion rates
- Sales cycle metrics
- Sales velocity
- Optimal lead sources
- Buyer industries
- Total deals in the pipeline
There are dozens of other KPIs to be tracked, so make sure you select the best ones for your unique operation. Once you have enough data available, Salesforce makes it easy to generate reports that will provide you with greater insight into the effectiveness of your sales pipeline strategy.
Follow up with leads
The deal will likely never happen if you don't reach out to a lead after the first couple stages of your sales pipeline. Remember to always follow up with leads, even if it seems like they may not be interested. A change of heart can happen as time passes, so you must ensure that your sales team is invested in nurturing each lead and relationship that enters your pipeline.
Prioritize critical leads
Understanding the value of your leads can streamline your overall sales process. If you know which leads are most valuable and can identify those leads within your pipeline, you should be able to give your sales team a specific target to aim for. Of course, you should not neglect leads that are less than ideal, but prioritizing leads that hit specific metrics will always be to your benefit.
Remove dead leads
Similar to prioritizing your most valuable leads, you should also drop leads that are a clear dead end. If you keep dead leads in your pipeline, chances are high that one of your sales representatives will waste time trying to reach out to them. If it is certain that their efforts will be fruitless, use Salesforce to hide or deprioritize dead leads.
Review your pipeline strategy routinely
The efficacy of your pipeline is flexible. As your business continues to operate, market factors may influence the effectiveness of your current sales pipeline strategy. Always look for new ways to innovate. If you don't, you run the risk of your sales pipeline becoming cluttered or disorganized. This can impact it's effectiveness and cause a drop in morale for sales representatives who rely on the pipeline for guidance.
Reviewing your pipeline may seem tedious, but it is an incredibly important administrative task. One part of this process that is sometimes overlooked is keeping details for leads up to date. You can achieve this by adding regular notes to your leads as they flow through the sales pipeline.
A simple trick like this can easily boost efficiency in your sales process and ensure that your team is fully equipped to convert sales.
Support Your Salesforce Pipeline With a Telephony System
If your sales strategy relies on inbound or outbound calling, your operation would likely benefit from a Saleforce-integrated telephony system. These systems allow you to make, take, and track calls directly through Salesforce. Most telephony products also have a suite of useful features that make operating a call center far more efficient.
If you are curious about the ways telephony software can improve your business, consider trying PhoneIQ for free today!