“I Need to Grow My Sales Pipeline”

By Michael Perla

“Our pipeline is not where it needs to be”, the SVP of Sales said to me, “We need 30% more than what we have now”. “Our immediate focus is on growing the pipeline … How do we do that?”

I hear this type of refrain a lot in my work. It’s also an area that many CEOs are asked about on conference calls – how their sales pipeline is looking, which can be used to predict future revenue performance. The sales pipeline gets a lot of attention from C-suite executives to sales management to sellers. I wrote about pipeline dynamics last year and ‘Pipelies’ before that. Net net, the sales pipeline is the barometer of the ‘future’ for a lot of companies and its current market valuation is derived from future expectations.

In the most prosaic way possible, the pipeline is basically a pipe with lines – the pipe is the sales process and lines are stages. The sales pipeline represents opportunities that are arranged along each of the sales stages or steps that comprise the sales process. The de facto standard today is that your sales process should align to your customer’s buying process, assuming they have some sort of process, which is likely to depend on what they are purchasing.

So if we get back to the question in the title of this post, there is a bit of work to really understand what’s going on with a sales pipeline. First off, are you even assessing the complete picture?

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What Is Your Sales Pipeline Telling You?

By Michael Perla

The sales pipeline, or funnel, gets a lot of attention, from CEOs to sales professionals and everyone in between. The CEO often gets asked about the pipeline on analyst calls, while sales managers are constantly looking at their sellers’ pipelines to see if they have the right size, shape and speed.  In some ways, the pipeline equals potential, and almost everyone, from investors to athletic scouts to employers, wants to figure out how to realize the potential of someone or something.

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"Pipelies" – The Sales Pipeline Mirage

By Michael Perla

About 12 years ago I consulted with a Vice President of Sales who worked for a large Fortune 50 financial services firm. He was having, like many VP’s of Sales, an issue with his pipeline yielding enough so he could hit his number. If you know anything about business-to-business (B2B) sales, you know that the sales pipeline is constantly scrutinized to ensure a seller has enough pipeline opportunities to hit quota or goal.

In general, most companies assume sellers will win one-quarter to one-third (a win ratio) of their pipeline value, all things being equal. Thus, in a lot of cases, the pipeline value needs to be 3 or 4 times the quota.

As you take sales cycle time into the equation – for example, it takes 90 days to close an average deal –the pipeline math can be a bit more complicated. 

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Beyond the sales report

By Michael Perla

 

I was in a VP of Sales’ office and we were talking about his team’s performance and the overall market. We both had opinions around where the market was going and if the team could adapt. We started to speculate a bit about where things would go. He then said, “Let’s look at the sales report.”

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How to Support Your Sales Process with CRM

By Warren Shiver

Want to know what’s ailing your sales process? Look no further than how your reps are using CRM.

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Moving from a “Pipedream to Pipeline”

By Warren Shiver

There are many sales related axioms, clichés, sayings, etc. One of my favorites has been the title that Rick Page selected for one of his books, “Hope is not a strategy”. While this certainly applies throughout many phases of the sales process, it also applies at the top-of-the-funnel. Generating and developing leads and turning these into qualified opportunities is a foundational element for any business.

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How do you get a sales prospect's attention?

By Michael Perla

There has been a lot of ink spilled on how to get people’s attention … how to have people like you … how to be more popular, and ad infinitum.  One of the biggest challenges in sales is “breaking through the noise” to capture someone’s attention.
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Developing Sales Talent: Art, Science or Theory?

By David Szen

Regardless of your own answer to the question let’s face the facts.  If you stop everything you are doing right now and call 100 sales reps across a diverse industry pool and ask the following questions you WILL get the following answers:

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