Pipeline Reporting and Opportunity Management are inextricably tied and serve to drive revenue and enterprise growth, not just report activity after the fact.
Most writers on this topic look at “Pipeline” or “Funnel” management as a singular tool for sales executives and management. Sales personnel normally look on it as a an administrative task they must deal with, and management often regards it as a low value activity because the data is generally unreliable.
I have a different view. Pipeline Management should be thought of as an entire set of administrative tools and processes that drive the growth agenda and manage resource allocation among customer pursuits. In fact, pipeline management has the power to predict revenue growth, identify and capture best practices, and underpin management decisions on production, new product development, customer service investments and any number of seemingly unrelated strategic agendas.
Let me suggest that we think of funnels and pipelines as racetracks. So then, Racetrack Management is more about speed and wining than about reporting, isn’t it? The next time you look at your pipeline report, pay particular attention to the aging of the opportunities and the number of contact points between your company and the prospect’s company. Do this with existing customers and you might just have a coronary!
These reports are often about hoped-for deals, not real deal opportunities as are our relationships with existing customers are not part of the mix. We’re not hatching eggs here, so deal opportunities should move through the sales process very quickly. Successful sales teams have Racetrack sessions that would appear to the casual observer as life and death struggles to finish the race with the prize. Simply looking at documents and graphs is not it!
Proper Sales Process and Sales Tools
I mentioned above that Racetrack Management involves a process and a set of tools. There are several we use, but as a bare minimum, your Racetrack tools will 1) assure that the prospect is qualified, 2) that you have or don’t have relationship currency in the account 3) that there is an opportunity worth winning, and 4) that you have planned your execution strategy for bringing the customer home.
I encourage you to make every effort to look at your Racetrack Management process and tools to see if they are really working to accomplish your goals, or they are just wasting time.