Need a More Predictable Pipeline? Only Hard Data Will Do It

The ability to accurately monitor and measure the sales pipeline can make the difference between an organization's success and failure. Nowhere is this truer than with high-velocity sales models. In a high-volume selling cycle, sales leaders need to monitor their pipeline and close rates on a weekly—if not daily—basis.

There's no way that this can be done without analytics. If you rely on gut instinct or wait until the end to manage your sales pipeline, you might as well be playing the roulette wheel in Vegas.

You need hard data—data that shows both prospect engagement as well as your team's prospect interactions—running from the start to the end of your sales cycle.

Zeroing in on the "Opportunity" Pipeline

Marketing has filled your pipeline with hundreds of marketing qualified leads—so many, in fact, that your team is spending hours emailing and phoning these leads. This is where analytics first helps in building a predictable pipeline.

Analytics let you quickly identify the most promising opportunities based on engagement data—so your team can zoom in on the most engaged leads. With the ability to rank leads based on actual engagement, you can more accurately assess what's going on in your pipeline. You can see which leads are good and quickly send the rest back to marketing for further nurturing.

If you don't have the ability to quickly weed out poor leads, your team's prospecting clogs your pipeline and hurts its accuracy.

Furthermore, with insights into prospect engagement, sales outreach and follow-up becomes more intelligent, letting sales teams advance opportunities faster and in a more personalized manner.

Gaining Visibility Into What's Working, and What Isn't

If you don't have visibility into buyer behaviors and rep activities, your pipeline has a big black hole right in the middle of it. Sales analytics help you measure what's working and what's not as you qualify and nurture prospects.

With engagement analytics, you can understand the average amount of time and the average number of activities it takes to move prospects forward in your pipeline. What volume of calls and emails are needed in your sales organization?

Armed with better understanding about conversion rates, you can make a more informed assessment of how many and what deals are likely to close in a given quarter.

With buyer-side engagement analytics, you can also do a side-by-side comparison of what was done differently in the deals that closed versus the ones that didn’t. What behaviors led to success?

Additionally, with real-time insights, you can make sure that reps are doing the right activities, that they're spending the right amount of time on activities, and that they're focused on the right opportunities.

With these insights, leaders can quickly spot what's working well and what has room for improvement, and coach their reps toward better behaviors. Research shows that sales coaching can increase top-line revenue up to 20 percent. With proven sales processes, leaders can also ramp up new reps faster.

It's essential to ensure that the team is qualifying and converting as efficiently as possible. By doing so, you can speed up your sales processes and get a baseline foundation to build repeatable processes.

Eliminating the Stress of Late-Stage Pipeline

According to CSO Insights, only 54.6 percent of salespeople achieved their annual quota. With high-velocity models, if you're not at 50 to 60 percent of your sales number by the end of the second month, it's a big red flag—not to mention a huge stress point.

Imagine having concrete data to monitor your pipeline's health when you still have the time and ability to take corrective action. Analytics give you the ability to have reps easily adopt and implement the right behaviors all the time.

Analytics can help you get a consolidated view of buyer-side behavior and rep activities across your entire pipeline. You'll have a more accurate picture of the likelihood of closed deals—and gain confidence in your and your team's ability to make the numbers.

With analytics, you can manage your pipeline more effectively by seeing which deals are likely to close and which ones aren’t based on what’s happened in the past. By getting answers to the most pressing pipeline questions, you can also make better decisions for your team and your business.

Suresh Balasubramanian is CEO of LiveHive Inc., whose open, extensible sales acceleration platform gives sales managers a single, unified view into the effectiveness of their team’s sales efforts. Balasubramanian is a seasoned software industry executive with more than 20 years of operations and senior management experience. Before LiveHive, Balasubramanian served as CEO for Armor5, and GM worldwide at Adobe Software. You can reach him at ceo@livehive.com and follow on Twitter @LiveHive.

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