Tracking Data Points Along the Sales Pipeline
No matter what your product or industry, identifying and tracking your sales pipeline is integral to your sales team’s success. Using concrete data, you can visualize each phase of the sales process, understand them, and spot weak links in the chain of events that lead toward a sale. Your sales team is likely already tracking data, but are they tracking the right data?
What is a sales pipeline?
A sales pipeline visualizes the sales process from the perspective of your team. In some ways, it’s similar to a conversion funnel, which visualizes customer experience from the time of interest to the moment they purchase a product and beyond. Knowing what data points converge within the sales pipeline can lead to better forecasting, higher conversion rates, and stronger performance from individual team members. Think about it like this: It’s important to know how many sales were closed last quarter, but how much more valuable would it be to know how your team got those sales? To answer that question, these are the data points you need to track.The sales pipeline is measurable, so measure it! #data Click To Tweet
There are two types of data: actionable and passive. Actionable data involves something you can measure and turn into a plan, so that’s what we’ll focus on. The goal of your sales pipeline is to identify this data, track it, and use it to generate more sales. For most organizations, the sales pipeline involves the following steps:
- Lead Generation & Nurturing
- Leads Accepted by Sales
- Sales Qualified Leads
- Closed Deals
- Post-Sales Interaction
Lead Generation & Nurturing
During lead generation, the most important thing is to attract prospective clients through marketing. Marketing techniques range everywhere from in-person events and tradeshows to content creation, SEO/PPC, and email marketing. The idea is to cast a wide net and engage as many potential customer as possible. Lead nurturing is the strategy of developing existing leads already captured in a CRM and “warming” them to the idea of the product or service being sold. According to research, companies that actively nurture leads are 50% more like to engage customer-ready leads at 1/3 the cost of a typical lead.
Leads Accepted & Qualified by Sales
During this phase, sales determines which leads it should pursue. In most cases, this happens through a cold call or follow-up, whether by email or phone. Most importantly, these leads must have – to the best of your team’s knowledge – the verified intent to purchase and meet the qualifications for your ideal customer target audience. A qualified lead should include:
- Clear timeline
- Readiness to make a purchasing decision
The Closed Deal
A closed deal turns a target customer or client into revenue. On average, roughly six percent of all sales opportunities – qualified leads – turn into actual sales. In most scenarios, the timeline for an accepted and qualified lead to turn into revenue is 18 days. During this phase, it is important to attribute the appropriate sales and marketing data to your revenue, such as paid advertising, etc. Once you understand where closed deals came from, you can begin targeting customers from the same region, demographic, etc.
Many people assume the sales pipeline ends with a closed deal. In reality, the sales pipeline extends far beyond the moment of purchase. There are two reasons why: loyalty and repurchasing. A loyal customer will recommend your product or service to others; others will come back to your company to repurchase the same service or produce again, or purchasing additional services and upgrades. To make sure this happens, secure a positive customer relationship through the following:
- Brand engagement
- Brand loyalty
- Opportunities for collaboration
- Opportunities for feedback
- Loyalty programs
- Premium services for return customers
Read next: 4 Signs Your Data Needs a Dashboard
Benefits of using a dashboard to track sales data
Understanding the importance of the sales pipeline is one thing, but finding practical ways to deploy it to stakeholders is a totally different issue. Through dashboards and data visualization, your sales team can easily tap into and understand crucial data sales data. Here’s how:
- Keeping data up-to-date. Timeliness is important during every phase of the sales process. This means you’ll need real-time information to give your team the information they need, when they need it the most. Automated reporting, like you get with a dashboard, provides up-to-date data points that you and your team can access at any time and from any device.
- Keeping data easy to understand. Data visualization and reporting go hand-in-hand. While your dashboard guarantees timely data, it provides another advantage as well: information that’s easy to absorb. Some people use data like a second language; others, probably some members of your sales team, need to focus on how they can use it. Visualized data can engage your sales team in ways the columns of numbers in a spreadsheet never will.
- Keeping everyone in the loop. Dashboards can be made readily accessible to users at all levels of your organization. You can easily set user permissions, publish dashboards in Sharepoint or your company intranet, or embed dashboards into webpages with password protection. Best of all, data visualization helps communicate the performance of your sales pipeline instantly to the viewer, even if they aren’t a “data person”.
All your sales data sources in a single view
iDashboards lets you connect all of your data sources in a central location through SQL, Excel, Google Analytics, Customer Relation Management (CRM) software such as Salesforce, and more. What does this mean for your sales team? Your pipeline data can update automatically, so your team gets to spend less time pulling data manually and more time approaching ideal customers.
What are the most important sales metrics to your company? Comment below, or join the conversation on social media @iDashboards. If you’d like to learn more about sales data and how it can help your organization, try iDashboards today during a 30-day, free trial!