When it comes to the sales pipeline, a good rule of thumb is — having nothing in the top of your sales funnel today, means nothing to close in the future.
This means it is important to add prospects to a sales funnel, as well as ongoing engagement to move them through the funnel. Simply put, just because a prospect enters the top of the sales funnel, it’s not guaranteed they’ll move to the middle of the funnel.
The Facts of Managing the Sales Pipeline
According to a research study by Vantage Point, 63% of sales professionals say their team does a poor job at managing the sales pipeline.
Poor pipeline management leads to poor sales performance. To truly manage a sales pipeline, managers and sellers must manage every stage of it. Leaders who spend time focusing on the early stages of the funnel will be able to:
- Help sellers nurture prospects to move them through the pipeline.
- Collect and review data to help sellers better identify the types of leads that most often produce revenue (as well as the types that stall and produce nothing).
- Create sales enablement resources to keep prospects engaged and nurture them.
- By providing focus to prospects in the early stages of the buyer’s journey, sales leaders can create a better experience for future leads and prospects.
Lead Nurturing is Key
Once a lead enters the top of the sales funnel, it’s essential that they’re nurtured. This keeps them engaged and motivates them to move to the middle of the funnel.
It’s tempting to put more focus on the low hanging fruit, but there’s a multitude of reasons that shouldn’t be the case. By only focusing on the leads closest to closing, sales leaders will often ignore the opportunities that would benefit from more nurturing.
Here’s a summary of a typical sales funnel and related activities:
- Top of the funnel (TOFU)—early in the sales process when sellers are identifying and connecting with prospects.
- Middle of the funnel (MOFU)—sellers discovering problems and opportunities as well as advising.
- Bottom of the funnel (BOFU)—closing the deals.
World class managers and sellers know the activities should vary depending on the stage of the pipeline. Here’s an example: attempting to present a proposal to a top of the funnel prospect will most likely lead to a NO and a prospect opting out of the sales pipeline. A tailored and personal approach to TOFU leads provides a better way to nurture and engage.
Producing quality content on blogs, creating videos, publishing case studies... all of these actions (and more) attract potential leads and compel them to transition to the next step of the conversion process.
At the top of the funnel, a prospect is not yet a qualified lead. At this stage, use of personalized content to promote continued engagement and guide them down the funnel is essential. Here are some ways to keep them engaged as well as give prospects a chance to show their level of interest:
Providing a call-to-action (CTA) on everything gives prospects the opportunity to take the next step during their exploration process a way to ask for more information.
Sales Pipeline Management Starts at the Very Beginning
According to Gartner, improving prospecting and early pipeline quality is one of three key areas for senior revenue executives to focus on for 2020. Evaluating and tweaking top-of-funnel activity offers big impact on the business.
Sales managers need to dive into conversion rates, lead quality and quantity, and their teams’ conversations to identify gaps in the sales process. You’ll need to find out why top of the funnel prospects are not converting into sales qualified leads and tweak your strategy accordingly.
It starts at the very beginning. By providing focus to leads at the top of the funnel, sales leaders can create a better experience. They can guide SDRs on who to reach out to, where leads are falling through the cracks, and re-engage those who have stalled.