This blog article is an overview of sales pipeline management and its importance in the B2B world.
For some reason, a lot of B2B companies approach their sales process like a little kid approaches a magic trick; if you just believe enough, something amazing will happen.
While confidence is a critical part of success, belief in your own greatness is not going to convert MQLs to SALs. B2B companies need to think of sales as a process to be managed that is backed by logic and data.
Management of your sales process should be focused on your pipeline. A sales pipeline “is the amount of business you attempt to close in a given month, quarter or year” (inc.com). You can manage the data of your sales pipeline using spreadsheets or sales and marketing technologies and then use that data to give you insights as to how to forecast better, improve your conversion rate and refine your marketing messages.
B2B sales pipeline management consists mostly of working with different metrics. By looking at the percentage of your entire pipeline that closes every quarter, you can begin to predict future demand with greater accuracy. You can also look at more specific metrics as to how successful a certain piece of marketing content is for conversion. For example, if your data tells you that 75% of people who download your white paper end up closing, you probably want to make sure that every single MQL sees that white paper.
Managing your B2B sales pipeline also helps you keep track of leads who aren’t ready to buy right away. A lot of companies have discovered that some leads that enter their pipleline don’t close until a year later. Without a clear understanding of how long your typical buying cycle is and what activities signal buying readiness, you might give up on clients who are simply taking a little bit more time to analyze all of their options.
Overall, B2B sales pipeline management turns guesswork into a refined process with measurable results. When you have total visibility of your sales process and marketing efforts, you have certainty that each move you make has been well-thought out and is backed by data.