Three steps to the perfect pipeline
What does a sales pipeline mean to you? Do you have one that you check on regularly? Do you take small but frequent actions to nudge opportunities towards becoming new business?
Or do you feel a sense of rising panic when someone mentions pipelines? Do you have a rough idea of a few possible prospects in your head, but nothing captured on paper?
Running a successful business is about looking ahead and planning. By understanding your numbers (one of the most important of which is your cash flow situation) you can avoid surprises and, more importantly, have a chance to reverse any negative trends. So, if you aren’t seeing enough cash in the future of the business, you need more sales opportunities to convert into paid work, whatever that looks like for you.
Your pipeline will be instrumental in all the above, and more.
Take these 3 steps to creating the perfect pipeline and you’ll get even closer to the beating heart of your business:
1. Capture the steps in your sales process
A sales process doesn’t need to be any more complex than identifying an opportunity, connecting with the person generating it and convincing them you are the right person for the job. However, we all know business is rarely that black and white so we often put in additional steps which serve to build and nurture the relationship we have with our prospects and even some which start to build awareness of our brand and what we can offer.
A good CRM (such as CapsuleCRM) can help you identify at which point a casual conversation becomes a serious enquiry and then capture each touch point throughout the process until they sign a contract for work to be delivered.
There’s more about how to create a kickass sales process in my blog, but my top tips are to sit down and sketch out what you believe you do, what you’d ideally like to do (based on what you know works well) and then marry the two together.
2. Create your pipeline and schedule your opportunities
Once you have a recognisable process, you can feed it into your CRM. In Capsule this is done by creating a ‘pipeline’. This is a series of steps – or milestones – that opportunities usually pass through before you achieve a definite contracted “yes” to work together – the point at which you have won the sale. You can also create a “track” in Capsule which is a series of tasks which Capsule reminds you to do to nudge the opportunity from one milestone to the next.
The great thing about doing this in Capsule is it can weight the percentage chance of success in each of these milestones, and then give you a true pipeline value that can be used for your business planning purposes, as well as one that is based on 100% success.
Having an electronic pipeline means you need never drop a lead again. It’s very likely to result in a higher conversion rate simply because it keeps your opportunities in the front of your mind and prompts you to keep the relationship warm.
3. Analyse your pipeline to make informed decisions
Use the pre-designed reports in your CRM to measure and track the trends in your pipeline. You can see how it looks over the coming 12 months; whether you have a concentration of opportunities ‘stuck’ at a certain stage in the process; check your conversion rate and whether it compares well to previous periods.
You can also interrogate your data to see your rates of success over the past 30 days or longer, get an at-a-glance view of the most popular services that you offer and export information in chart or list format, if you wish.
The key to maximising the benefit of your pipeline is about more than numbers though. It’s about analysing what didn’t come to fruition and seeing why this happened. What are the reasons for losing opportunities? Are you finding certain potential clients are badly qualified? Can any of these insights be used to refine your ideal client avatar or refine who you engage with as a business prospect?
Hopefully this has encouraged you to create a pipeline and use it moving forward 😊 And, if you think your business is too small to have a CRM then here are 10 reasons why it’s not.
Whether you already use CapsuleCRM, another CRM that’s not really providing the support it should, or you’re interested in finding out more about implementing a CRM, why not get in touch for a free, no obligation chat? You can reach me on Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01635 592020.
Who Am I?
I have been working with CapsuleCRM for over a decade and helped many clients increase revenue, reduce costs, make the most of their contacts, manage their pipeline and deliver great customer service. Capsule is an excellent way to capture your leads and clients once you’ve identified them using your avatar.
I can design and install the perfect bespoke version of Capsule to meet your needs. Capsule really is a great solution for consultants and service based business owners, and when it is integrated with Mailchimp and Xero you have really solid foundations in place to grow your business.