When I am out relaxing with fellow financial sales professionals, I see strange faces when people listen to our conversations often overhearing “pipeline”. Outside the office the term may indeed have an interesting meaning. However, in the business world it usually defines the stage where a given sales process stands between its starting and ending point. Often data visualization tools are used to help sales managers identify trends.
Commonly, there are four stages in the sales pipeline management – lead generation ( passive and proactive), qualification of prospects, identifying qualified sales opportunities, registering the deals as closed. Important components reflecting the potential new revenue generated are the number of prospective deals, their size, the time it takes to close them as well as the percentage of closed deals versus the ones that are initially generated. It is interesting to note that in the start up era a this rather approach seems to enable organisations to generate more revenues compared to their peers without such approach.
In the age technology empowers people to build businesses sitting from their desktop, 8 out of 10 businesses fail in the first 18 months of their existence. One of the reasons why it may that they either do not employ qualified sales people or they are failing to apply a systematic pipeline approach.
It sounds obvious but before managing your pipeline, you need to have one. This is a great begging. Once you start using the approach, remember to keep your focus on the business and the customer not on the process. Gathering the right information ( i.e. asking the right questions) on every stage of the process is a key success driver. Having the right tool to manage the process as well as keeping your database up to date will increase your chances to generate revenue. It will also help you to avoid duplication of efforts will increase your credibility in front of the potential customers. Consulting regularly your potential revenue opportunities as well as reading again your previous conversation will allow you to focus on the most lucrative deals as well as understand perfectly your prospects challenges so you can solve them. Finally, by doing the above your management will see you your accurate forecasts and you will be able to generate product feedback based on anticipated clients needs.
Ultimately, everyone needs to sell something – be it an idea to his team mates, a holiday destination to a group of friends, a preferred restaurant or hotel… As practice proves approaching tasks in a systematic manner while constantly gathering intelligence is likely to turn the odds in your favour. When it comes to selling fintech, my experience tells me the only way to run an effective business growth strategy is not only to have an up to date pipeline, but also manage it appropriately and constantly look how to grow it.