4 crucial things your Sales Pipeline Report will tell you

Sales Pipeline ReportOne of the most basic reports that you can use to manage your sales process is the pipeline report. For most people, this is just an Excel file that tracks opportunities (one per row) and monitors the progress that your sales people are making in closing that opportunity. By reviewing the pipeline report regularly (I recommend weekly in most businesses) you can ensure that opportunities aren’t languishing, and that your sales people are focusing their efforts on the opportunities that are most likely to yield results.

If your sales pipeline report is working well, and you are regularly reviewing it with your sales team, you should see at least the following four things happening:

1. Find out what’s moving — so you can focus your lead generation.

When you look at your sales pipeline report on a regular basis, you will notice that some prospects move through the buying process quickly, and others move more slowly (if at all). What do those “quicker to close deals” have in common? Do clients of a particular type move faster, or does it have to do with how the lead came to you? If you can notice the trends you can put more of your time and energy behind those leads that are more likely to close (and hopefully close more deals).

2. Find out what’s stuck — so you can focus your sales efforts.

Just as important as looking at what’s moving is looking at what’s stuck. Often times just reviewing the sales pipeline sparks an action, “Wait, I was supposed to hear back from Josh last week. I need to follow up with him and see what’s going on!” Or on the other end of the spectrum, you find things that you have followed up with 10 times and it’s still not moving — likely it’s time to take it out of the pipeline. The only resource that your sales people have to manage is their time. Make sure they are spending it well!

3. Find out what’s coming — so you can adjust your staffing.

What most people want the pipeline report to do is to predict future sales, and it should do that, sort of. You need to recognize that your pipeline report is only true on average. In other words, if you try to use it to predict which piece of business is going to close it’s pretty useless. But if you use it to predict the relative volume of work that’s going to close it’s perfect. A bigger pipeline is better than a smaller pipeline (all things being equal). The bigger pipeline has a greater chance of producing more business. To get the “truest” picture of your future business you want to weed out as many of the leads that are not moving as possible. These leads aren’t likely to close, and they aren’t useful in predicting future sales. The more you focus on the high velocity leads, the more accurate your prediction becomes.

4. Find out where your sales people need help — so you can help them close more deals.

Reviewing the pipeline report on a regular basis can make it less likely that your team is going to hide behind excuses or “stories”. By forcing your sales people to give an account for what they are working on, and what that effort is producing, you can see if there are certain clients they are intimidated by, or otherwise have a hang up with. Maybe they need some coaching, or for you to ride along with them. Maybe they are hoping for a sale that’s just not advancing. The sales pipeline report helps you to separate the truth from the stories. It’s your job to be brutal — don’t let stuff linger in the pipeline that’s not advancing. If there is something the sales person needs in order to move the deal forward, get it for them. But if you’ve shot all the bullets in your gun and you still don’t have a deal, it’s time to move on. Focus your sales time and resources on deals that are likely to close. If there’s not enough of those, you need to focus the sales people’s time back toward the top of the funnel and generate some leads.

If you’re not using a sales pipeline report, hop over and download our Sales Pipeline Excel template today. Start tracking your team’s progress and reviewing it regularly. You will feel more in control of your business development process, and you might gain some valuable insights in the process.


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