Today's guest post is by Bill Butler, CEO of Journey Sales.
Can a disciplined approach to pipeline management impact revenue growth? According to our data, yes – a well-managed pipeline yields a 23 percent increase in sales. Yet our data also shows that 63 percent of all sales managers admit they are ineffective at pipeline management.
To understand the root of this problem, we need to examine the information in our CRM systems. Typically, the opportunity and pipeline data in CRM reflect guesses and assumptions – with a few checks and balances thrown in for good measure. This is why less than half of sales opportunities close when forecasted, and why the pipeline is often clogged with many dead or dormant opportunities.
The best sales leaders today leverage data to understand the health of each opportunity so they can coach reps to win deals. Adding “buyer engagement” data to the CRM opportunity data provides a breakthrough in pipeline management and visibility. This indisputable information relies less on what a sales rep inputs and instead is based on “customer engagement” activity. The customers’ digital “body language” – not the gut instinct of the manager or the rep – is the ultimate measure of pipeline health.
Such tools as Marketo and Hubspot have been measuring customer engagement for years. But, when the lead becomes an opportunity and is passed to sales, we have historically lost the ability to track how that engagement evolves. However, tools such as Journey Sales Smart Rooms – personalized digital portals that track a buyer’s digital body language – maintain the digital connection with the customer and provide a wealth of indisputable customer data, including:
- Who are the key executives, and what is their level of engagement?
- What content and messaging are making an impact?
- Where are customers in their buyer’s journey?
We get an abundant amount of customer data from Smart Rooms. This data is actionable – it helps us design effective sales plans and impacts the sales pipeline in three ways.
1. New Active Opportunities
Adding a new opportunity counts only if the customer is appropriately engaged. For example, if a customer views content or invites colleagues to view content, those actions would count as engagement. This helps establish a cadence where sales rep are continually adding real opportunities and removing inactive opportunities.
2. Pipeline Movement and Velocity
Movement is not just updating a stage but also aligning activity with measurable customer engagement. Nurturing Smart Rooms with relevant content improves engagement and increases velocity.
There are at least four critical activities to improving close rates and forecasting accuracy. These include 1) creating quotes or proposals, 2) sending quotes or proposals to the customer, 3) tracking when the quote or proposal is viewed by the customer, and 3) signing and closing the deal. Smart Rooms make each activity highly visible (unlike CRM).
Managing the sales pipeline with accurate and consistent Smart Room data is the cornerstone of strong sales performance. The integrity of our sales pipeline is critical because it informs sales leadership to what is working well and what is not. A pipeline based only on the data entered by a sales rep is incomplete. Adding customer engagement data to the sales pipeline improves management visibility, coaching, and decision making.