Created about ten years ago, pipeline management has now become the norm in most CRM tools.
This visual practice is inspired by the principles of Kanban, a not-so-recent project management method invented by Toyota in the 1940s.
It originally consisted of using post-it notes on a whiteboard to divide the different elements and stages of a project.
In a CRM pipeline, lead’s cards are moved in incremental steps, from the first contact to the gain (or loss) of the deal (“Incoming” to “Done”).
While this method is acclaimed by sales representatives worldwide, it is important to note that a good set up of these tools is essential to uncover their true potential.
Want to get the most out of your CRM with Pipeline view? Check out our tips.
Have identical pipelines for all your sales representatives
(Image: Sellsy CRM - Equipment Project - Created: on - Due on: - Owner)
Even if CRMs pipelines are very flexible tools, they can often hinder the usage: if sales representatives can easily change the stages of their pipelines, they may rapidly create their own specific pipelines.
This could quickly become a problem for the team manager, who will no longer be able to compare the pipelines with each other. The reporting will therefore not be accurate and it will be impossible to effectively use the statistical tools of the CRM software.
And that’s why, standardising your pipelines is essential for the good management of a sales team.
Always keep your pipelines super active
The power of the pipeline view lies in its ability to provide a synthetic view of the ongoing business activity.
No sales representative in the world can effectively handle 500 opportunities at the same time. And yet, it is not rare to see it in many companies.
A sales pipeline must consist of active opportunities but what to do with the "hanging" ones?
Empty the drawers and pamper your dormant opportunities
Sales representatives tend to keep all their open opportunities in one compartment, even when the due date is ages away. As you can imagine, this is not good practice.
Even if the sales representative is responsible for the lead, as soon as an opportunity has a reminder greater than 3 months, it should be transferred to a pipeline
dedicated to nurturing, for example with a sequence of revival, discovery and reassurance emails.
Review your pipelines to prevent the “fridge effect”
CRM programs are great tools but they don’t eliminate the need for performing a regular analysis between the sales representatives and their managers.
Managers are all very aware of the “fridge effect” of the sales representative who has had a good month and who wants to keep a bit back for the next period. A trend rarely aligned with the overall goal of the company (and this is a euphemism).
Your best option: set up pipeline review meetings, either at the beginning or the end of the week, to check in on the pipelines and the opportunities they contain.
Optimise the management of incoming opportunities
Opportunities are not always immediately saved by sales representatives. Modern CRMs allow you to connect your website’s form or other landing pages.
A good practice is to use a pipeline for this purpose, with a step for each marketing source. Each step is then automatically fed by a particular channel (for example the contact page of your site or a Google form).
This gives the manager a panoramic view of the leads to distribute to his team while also being able to assess his team’s level of commitment and maturity through tracking and scoring tools.
Manage production tracking with a CRM pipeline
In some cases where production monitoring is very linear, keeping this pipeline logic can be very effective.
Take the example of an advertising agency: production monitoring is easy to model in pipeline (signed contract, received elements, sending the pass-for-press, supporting documents).
In this type of configuration, you will often only need to transfer an opportunity won in a pipeline of this type to effectively monitor production and keep track of all these steps in the opportunity.
Go set up this amazing tool for your team and reap the benefits at lightning speed!