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Boosting Business Performance Through Sales – Part 3: The Pipeline Strategy

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Behind every great customer experience sits a well-oiled sales process. In fact, it has been our experience that the secret to maintaining sustainable revenue growth is the creation of a reliable sales engine (or process). This engine is built so that it is independent of any one person and can be adjusted, based on achieving either production or financial forecasts.

The third blog in our “Boosting Business Performance Through Sales”  is designed to help you rethink how you can maximise your customer experience by building a sales engine that delivers reliable financial results which allows you to plan and build your platform for growth.

A Typical Sales Pipeline

A typical sales pipeline outlines the essential steps you need in order to successfully sell your products and services to your customer. A good sales process or pipeline is able to generate predictable results. It is repeatable, which means that it will eventually generate momentum. It allows you to anticipate objections from potential buyers and increase your probability of closing the sale. Your sales pipeline should be continuously refined as circumstances change.

Each step represents a single or group of activities needed in order to move from one part of the pipeline to the next.  The key to success is being able to define and direct activity. A typical sales pipeline would look like this:

  • Lead Generation
  • Fact Finding (Qualify Prospects)
  • Propose Solution (Quote or Tender)
  • Closure (Negotiation)
  • Purchase Order
  • Account Maintenance (Repeat Sales)

It is important not to over complicate the process or the steps involved. We would recommend no more than 5-6 steps, otherwise you may find that it becomes too difficult to manage – for both your business and your customers. We generally find that there are more steps when the buying cycle is long (where a customer might take 6-12 months to make a purchasing decision).

The Benefits of Mapping Your Sales Pipeline

The clear advantage of mapping and structuring your sales process is that it is your best chance at getting reliable results that you can use to build your internal team and take your marketing efforts to the next level. By constantly reviewing what is working and not working in your sales process you are able to continuously improve it.

For example, in an extremely competitive market, we have had a client in a luxury-spend market maintain their top line revenue because they were able to consistently introduce best practice across the team and pay attention to what activities achieve the best results.

We recommend mapping your pipeline as a visual representation of your sales process so that all of your opportunities are displayed and arranged according to where they sit in your sales cycle. This enables you to track, measure and report on sales performance.

Why Not Start Today?

If you want to dramatically change the top-line results, then start by mapping each element of your sales pipeline. We would encourage you to work with your whole team to put forward ideas, templates and processes that they use to achieve results. We have found that when we have done this in the past, participants have been genuinely surprised at how many ideas and sales tools you already have at your disposal. It is also a great way to share ideas and build the sales capability of your business.

The key to driving reliability is to ensure you have a documented sales process with standardised activities. This allows you to achieve more with less by being able to track your return on investment with each campaign or activity. This ability to track what’s working and not working allows you to continue to fine tune your sales engine for success.

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About The Author

Miles Management Consulting, Tim Miles

Tim Miles is the co-founder of Miles Management Consulting which supports business owners and leaders to drive better business performance.

Tim has vast experience in the strategic and financial management of businesses with a particular focus on cash flow and profit improvement, strategic thinking and performance reporting.  He has extensive knowledge of business start-ups and acquisitions as well as exit and succession planning.  Tim is an adviser with Supertrac, a corporate advisory firm specialising in business divestments, mergers and acquisitions.

Tim is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (FCA), Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD) and a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) with the Exit Planning Institute (EPI).

If you have any specific questions or would like to suggest future blog topics, please do not hesitate to contact Tim on tim.miles@milesconsulting.com.au.

 

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