Your sales pipeline is your organization’s path to the future. When it gets blocked with irrelevant or unqualified prospects and leads, your path to the future becomes uncertain. Productivity decreases along with revenue, and your ability to maintain daily operations comes into question.
What causes an unhealthy sales pipeline?
There are several things that can cause an unhealthy pipeline, including an abundance of leads that aren’t identifiable by the products and services for which they have a need or in which they’re actually interested, leads that aren’t identifiable by the appropriate place in your sales cycle, too many leads that might be low-hanging fruit but aren’t ever going to be big or repeat buyers, and more. However, two of the most common culprits of an unhealthy sales pipeline are 1., the disconnect between sales and marketing that results in marketing departments generating leads and passing them off to sales without having first established the criteria for good leads and 2., again as a result of organizational decentralization or poor inter-departmental communications, sales departments that subsequently ignore the leads they receive from marketing because they expect the leads to be unqualified.
Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to resolve a lack of communications between sales and marketing departments, mostly thanks to advances in CRM software and marketing automation. That stated, there is critical grunt work that sales and marketing departments have to perform together in order to utilize these tools to their full advantage. It takes people to analyze sales and marketing data and come up with accurate lead profiles that can be used to disqualify and qualify leads properly. When marketing and sales professionals within an organization have a mutual understanding of their target markets, their most valued prospects and leads, and the real-world worth of potential opportunities, marketing departments will run campaigns that are more effective and deliver more opportunities to sales and sales will not dismiss the leads they get from marketing as too soft or irrelevant.
The key to converging sales and marketing efforts is establishing lead profiles prior to campaigns. This may sound like an obvious step, but it’s overlooked all the time. When everyone in your organization who is responsible for generating leads and driving sales knows how to pre-qualify leads properly, everyone wins. Operations run more smoothly and productivity and revenue increase.
Something else that both sales and marketing departments have to understand is that the size of a pipeline is not as important as what it contains. You may have a pipeline full of leads, but if most of those leads aren’t viable, or if a high number of them don’t actually fit into your normal sales cycle, your pipeline is probably hurting you more than it’s helping you. A smaller, tighter pipeline is always going to be much more effective than one that’s full of leads that aren’t genuine opportunities.