Did you know that about 20% of small businesses fail within the first year? It even gets worse because half of these businesses never see their 5th anniversary. Failure to track sales has proven to be one of the factors that lead to their death. Sales can be described as where the rubber hits the road. However, sales data plays a crucial role in determining how your business is performing and making projections.
A sales pipeline is a visual representation of all the prospects in the sales process. It illustrates how many deals people are expected to close and how close the representative to reaching their quota. Let us discuss how to keep track of sales leads if you are a small business:
Invest in a tracking software
Manual calculations involving sales can be overwhelming. You have to track the sales you make in a day, stock left, and then compare with projections. Client relationship management (CRM) software can come in handy when you want to keep track of your sales. This software will keep track of all your sales data, and you can access it at the click of a button. Some of the things you can gauge through CRM include expected value and the total number of sales/ calls expected. The management will also get an overview of the team’s activities.
In a world where people have access to information at their fingertips, making a buy decision can be hard. Research shows that it took less than 4 sales calls to close a deal ten years ago. This has now changed, and businesses can make more than 8 calls to close a similar deal. Follow up is among the top five challenges that salespeople face. Your salesperson can make up to 2 calls. However, you can increase the chances of closing a deal when you follow up as well.
Base your focus on the best leads
It usually takes almost the same time to close a deal in a typical business environment. The sad news is that not every lead you get will eventually convert into a paying customer. Why should one waste time on some leads that are not promising? The leads you should focus on are the high-leads and those who are most-ready. The CRM can help you sort such leads based on the sales price and profit margins you will get from every closed deal.
Know when to drop leads
Have you ever followed a potential lead for days only for him or her to drop out at the last minute? It happens a lot, and it can be somehow frustrating. Some of these leads can be high-value, but you still have to let them go. It does not make sense following up on a lead that does not show any signs of converting. You can know a lead is dead if they can’t be contacted, when they state that they are not interested or when your efforts can’t move them to the next step in your sales process.
Keep an eye on the metrics
The sales pipeline is ever-changing. It has a life that you must check if you want to know how you are fairing. The number of deals in the pipeline is the first thing that you should consider; you will know if you are likely to hit your target sales or not. You can then compute the average size of deals in this pipeline; determine if you are likely to hit sales revenue targets. Check the average number of deals that you close and its time (sales Velocity).
Review the areas that are pulling you back
There is no need to check your metrics if you don’t take action. For instance, if you note that every first week of the month is slow on generating leads, you can develop a plan on how to improve. The business environment is ever-changing, and what applies today may not be applicable tomorrow. You should thus need to fine-tune and optimize your sales pipeline to ensure efficiency. Look out for the blockages and bottlenecks in the sales process and find out ways through which you can iron them out.
Improve your sales pipeline
You may get new leads daily, close several deals, and drop the dead leads on the way. It thus means that your sales pipeline is ever-changing, which calls for regular updates. The sales pipeline can get somehow chaotic if you are not cautious and may lose some leads. It thus calls for the addition of notes on every single step that you take. Luckily, a good CRM can help keep your sales pipeline up-to-date and give you more time to focus on the core processes.
Invest in content
What are the areas where you are most likely to find leads? This question should guide you when you want to design your content strategy. Most salespeople focus on emails and phone calls when they want to close deals. Sometimes it calls for more than this, especially when you want to deal with a technical aspect. Infographics and videos can come in handy when you want to illustrate. You can listen to your customer and learn the nature of the content they prefer. For instance, if a customer asks for an ‘illustrative video,’ you know that there is a need to invest more.
Develop standardized processes
We live in a world where businesses are focusing on personalized leads. Your sales team can also have varying approaches when it comes to generating leads. However, you need to develop a system that shows who you are and what you stand for. The target customers will always have several things in common. For instance, they could be using a certain form of communication. A standardized process makes it easy to determine the best-performing approaches and those that are pulling you back.
Tracking your sales pipeline is not that hard when you follow the above steps. The ideal sales process also needs to be short, irrespective of whether it is a B2C or B2B model. Develop a process, be open-minded, learn on the areas you need to improve and take action.