Define Your Sales Pipeline to Trust Your Sales Metrics
Without a shared sales pipeline definition, comparing important metrics such as sales cycles, win rates, and deal sizes will make little sense.
Too often, adding projects to the pipeline is left up to the gut of the salesperson. Unfortunately, everyone’s guts operate differently.
Instead, organizations must agree on specific criteria that indicate the project is worth pursuing and therefore placed into the sales pipeline.
It’s important that everyone on your sales team agree on qualification criteria. This includes the criteria by which it is determined to add a project to the pipeline, and criteria by which a project is removed.
Qualification criteria in your sales pipeline could include:
- Alignment with your Ideal Customer Fit (ICP,) which could be facts like industry, size, initiatives/triggers, etc.
- Timeline – are they looking to make a change now, or in 3 years?
- Next action booked – do we have a meeting with all the right stakeholders?
- Current situation and competitive landscape – can and should we win?
Just as importantly, take the time to understand which projects are not worth pursuing and create “qualify out” criteria. These criteria may occur at any point in the sales process and should immediately trigger removal from the sales pipeline.
Sample disqualification criteria may include projects:
- where you can’t meet with the right stakeholders
- for which a particular competitor is in play
- for which the potential customer doesn’t have a clear timeline
- that fit criteria you know to lead to unprofitable outcomes
- for which your company cannot provide a good solution
The definition of a sales pipeline can vary from company to company, but one constant is the need for a shared definition within your organization. A clearly defined sales pipeline improves your visibility, forecasting, and ability to improve your processes and coaching efforts.