The pipeline steps, when managed correctly, take the customer from the beginning to the end of their journey the way it should be: getting the sale. For this, however, it is necessary to adopt some strategies and good practices to have a greater conversion at all stages.
A CRM gives companies full conditions to track all sales from beginning to end.
Often, however, it is not uncommon not to use the full potential that the software offers, or not to have an adequate process adapted to the technology.
If you’ve recently gone through the digital transformation of your business or simply switched from CRM, it’s critical to keep one thing in mind:
It is through technology – and only technology – that you can strategically generate value at all stages of the pipeline to make a sale.
For this, it is necessary to follow some strategies, good practices in customer relationship management during:
In addition, of course, to the intermediate stages – the ones that really make the difference between the customer’s “yes” and “no”.
Today’s text brings the best practices for you in managing the stages of the sales pipeline.
Let’s check it out?
Correctly implement CRM to manage pipeline steps
Before effectively applying strategies to better manage sales and pipeline stages, it is necessary to understand if the CRM implementation went the best way.
Does this mean: is your sales team really using the system at all?
Are you extracting everything you can from it and, in fact, filling in all the necessary information?
By the yes and the no, you better make sure, right?
Make a quick checklist to see if in fact the CRM is being used in the best way in the company’s sales routine.
Is your team motivated and trusting in CRM?
It may seem like an obvious question – after all, if you hired it, it’s because the team uses it.
But that’s not always the case, and if you don’t do sales management closely, you might be surprised by the practice.
It’s critical that your team understand the importance of CRM and see it as an ally – not just another thing to fill.
Let her understand that technology helps to sell more and better; eliminates bureaucratic and robotic work and gives you more time and willingness to be consultative and deliver value to customers.
So, if an extra dose of motivation is needed, create some incentive campaign.
Increase the sales commission a little for that salesperson who, if he has beaten his goals and objectives, actually managed the negotiations through the CRM and recorded all his actions.
Are the processes really automated?
A factor that can contribute to the demotivation of salespeople – and consequently the wrong use of CRM – is the fact that there is not, in fact, process automation in sales.
Many tasks such as entering leads, sending emails and creating activities can be automated in your CRM.
For example, let’s say you always take a customer record on your website and hand-fill an opportunity in your pipeline.
In a CRM with automatic actions and integrations, as soon as a lead requests a quote, for example, you already have the opportunity-filled, ready to be worked on.
Is there an established activity routine?
The sales process is a living organism: it needs to be constantly changing to meet the needs of your potential customer.
But despite this, you need to have a routine of activities established for your team.
What activities should be done daily? That is to say, assuming you have a full-funnel:
- How many prospect emails need to be sent?
- How many qualifying calls should be made?
- How many sales demonstrations should take place in a day?
- How many emails or follow-up calls should be made?
Finally, define how your salespeople’s routine should be predictable.
That is: set the minimum that needs to happen every day for you to be effective every day.
Strategies for managing pipeline steps and converting more sales
Now that you have CRM as a true ally of your team, it’s time to further improve your delivery.
That is, putting in place some strategies to increase the conversion rate at all stages of the pipeline.
To help you, by topics – those we mentioned earlier, remember? Prospecting, qualification, negotiation and closing.
These strategies can also be seen as good practices to, in the end, achieve what really matters: sell more, sell better and have customers increasingly satisfied with your brand.
Good practices in prospecting
The lead generation process may seem confusing, but it doesn’t compare to managing all the contacts generated without the use of technology.
I mean, you can even have your spreadsheets well organized, with no duplicate contacts or wrong emails.
But having the tools and resources to be able to impact them while they’re still hot is a daunting task.
Therefore, for a correct management of the pipeline steps, especially in the conversion part, it is necessary to:
Integration with marketing
In order to manage the result of your marketing actions, it is essential to have a CRM integrated with your marketing automation platform.
Along with that, with automatic actions, every lead generated in any of your acquisition channels will enter the step of the funnel that you define.
This is especially important when you put in place some cold mail strategies.
It’s critical to take the opportunity to approach the lead while it’s still hot, willing to hear what you have to say.
Tag customers in CRM
Are your prospects organized for easy location and review?
For those who use a CRM, managing the customer base is not an arduous task.
When do you tag to know the origin of these leads: marketing (which channel)? Partners? Cold list?
Depending on the origin, the SDR will already know the approach required for each of them – which gives them greater persuasiveness right from the start.
Monitor conversations with customers
Cold calling, email marketing, chats… all of these are effective ways to attract customers and should continue to be done.
However, another equally important – and little used – strategy to generate leads is through the tickets that the support area receives.
The customer service team is attentive to the questions and concerns they have.
Support can use CRM to simply notify the sales team of conversations that could lead to up-selling and cross-selling opportunities.
Good practice in qualification
Within an ideal scenario, your prospecting efforts are attracting the right customers, within the persona and criteria you define as the ideal customer profile (ICP).
But to ensure that the right leads are always sought, there are some good practices for you to draw on in the pipeline steps when it comes to qualifying contacts.
Within the CRM, it is possible to create a lead qualification form – which must be filled out by the pre-sales professional.
The ideal is also to have a unique funnel for this stage of the process.
Within that questionnaire, put the essential questions so that you know whether or not the prospect has fit with the business.
Also leave a comment-free field and fill in any relevant information that will help the seller close that sale.
More than that: use tags to define the type of customer you’re dealing with.
Again: it is important for the salesperson to know, right away, who they will be dealing with, adapting the sales pitch for each of them.
Use loss reasons in your CRM
Some of your leads will not qualify. They won’t go-ahead to talk to the seller.
The job is to find out why they don’t have the profile for purchase.
It’s a pre-sales task, yes, but listing the reasons for loss is something to be done at basically any step in the sales process.
Whoever is responsible for listing, you must always mark something.
And don’t forget to create some recurring reason tags to make the report easier to check.
Monitor potential customer interactions
- How many times have your leads interacted with the company?
- During “cold calls”: what are they asking?
- What is their main concern in the answered emails?
Based on these conversations, find answers to some questions, such as:
- What value does our product or service add to this potential customer?
- What is his specific need met? And in what way?
- Does this prospect have the budget to hire our solution?
- Who is responsible internally for making the purchase decision?
So, see the importance of your inquiry form within CRM. It’s important to give the right direction.
An unfit lead negotiating with the customer has a huge chance of not closing. And then, well, you’re wasting a lot of money…
Good practices in negotiation
During the negotiation, you discuss prices and terms with the prospect.
It is essential that salespeople provide a great experience all the time, which creates value with each contact, bringing the “yes” closer.
To be even more assertive in these stages of the pipeline, some strategies are important
Know your prospect well
Your CRM gives you the opportunity to learn about all your customers and build a great relationship.
As you move an opportunity through the pipeline steps, constantly analyze the data your customers provide bit by bit.
- Emails you opened (what content was in it)?
- Answers on What Sapp for the pre-seller or seller;
- Pains or doubts exposed in the connections, etc.
Take advantage of the CRM is integrated with the webphone and listen to those calls from within the opportunity – and write down everything that is relevant.
Conversations via What Sapp are also recorded and you can read it calmly to find good information that will help you persuade the customer.
All of this is important for you to better understand the customer’s pains, personalize the speech and didactically show how your solution works for them.
Assign activities to yourself at all steps in the pipeline
This strategy is basically valid for any funnel at any point in the process.
But as the sale nears completion, it becomes even more important.
Assigning activities for yourself is fundamental and will make you not miss any opportunities for lack of action.
And it can even be done with automatic actions.
We think of the following example within the sales funnel.
The seller called the customer who is negotiating, following up to get a response to the business proposal sent.
The customer responded by saying they are still evaluating the offer and asked you to call in a few days.
What does the seller do? Two options:
- Both keeping the opportunity at the same stage in the funnel and manually scheduling an activity to call;
- Drag the opportunity to a new step (let’s say “follow up 2”) and trigger the automatic action to create a task to let you know that you need to call this lead in the next few days.
Also, don’t forget to set up stagnation alerts to reinforce the reminder of what you need to do.
Keep track of the opportunities you are involved
If you’re a sales manager, it’s important to know if your team is actually submitting proposals, following up, calling, and generally engaging with the customer.
The report can deliver all that, yes. But it’s important to be able to follow up in real-time.
One of the ways to do this is, at every opportunity (if the manager so wishes), to put yourself as involved.
This way, you will be alerted and aware of any and all actions that occur at each opportunity.
And stay tuned to review important activities, such as:
- calls made;
- Sent emails;
- completed tasks;
- change of steps in the pipeline;
- taking notes;
- Visits made, etc.
Good closing practices
A company only increases its revenues and grows when more sales are made.
It is therefore crucial to know how to use CRM to your advantage and optimize the sales closing stage.
For this, some good practices are needed, such as:
At each stage of the pipeline, based on your history within the CRM, you have a forecast of closing.
I mean: if everything works out, if your conversion rates stay at least the same, you will have the predictability of earnings at the end of the month.
Having a sales forecast, based on the historical conversion rate of each step, helps not only salespeople but also the company’s financial sector.
The latter will know how much money he can count on in the next period and can be programmed well in advance.
Identify bottlenecks in the process
How effective is your funnel really? Where the conversion rate is higher and where is it lower?
We’ve already talked about creating activities so as not to miss any opportunity for lack of action.
However, it is also necessary to review how long each opportunity is stuck in each of the pipeline steps.
This thorough analysis helps you to review your processes as well as the actions taken.
Maybe you’re letting prospects sit for too long at some stage.
Are the opportunities, at the next stage, more or less converting?
See: cross-check the data between conversion and stagnation time to find these bottlenecks – and fix them right away!
With these tips, you can optimize the pipeline steps, generate value for your customer, renew their trust in you and can convert more sales in less time.
So, how can we help you?
Enjoy and read two articles that will help you close more deals every day.
The first one brings some negotiation techniques for all types of companies.
The second talks about the importance of monitoring sales metrics relevant to your business.