Sales pipeline tools are designed to make your pipeline scaleable. While at first, you might use spreadsheets to keep track of leads and measure success, as you grow, you'll run into several problems:
- Organization. The more leads there are, the harder it is to keep track of your pipeline. Response times will go down, follow-ups will fall through the cracks, and opportunities for hot leads will be missed.
- Efficiency. More leads mean more busy work. Reps will get bogged down with research, manual data-entry, and email sorting.
- Transparency. At a certain point, a manager can no longer supervise every sales demo. Sales managers become detached from the day-to-day and become incapable of equipping sales reps to succeed.
The software you choose needs to address all three of these issues. Typically, sales teams use a robust customer relationship management system (CRM), such as Salesforce, but some opt for more lightweight software such as Pipedrive or Insightly. The best software for managing a sales pipeline is different for every company, but there are a few features you should look for when making your choice.
In order to keep your team organized, you'll want to pick a CRM that stores and updates lead data automatically and makes it easy to surface later. If you make a note on a lead, you'll want your CRM to log it for you and make that info available next time you open up that lead's file. CRMs that offer integrations with email and cloud calling are especially useful for keeping every bit of information bundled in one easily accessible place.
To improve the efficiency of your team, find a CRM that has plenty of automation options. Automatic lead generation can help cut down research time. A repository of templates or scripts can drastically decrease the time reps spend on lead communication, and automatic reminders can help make sure that follow-ups don't fall through the cracks.
Lastly, a CRM needs to bring transparency to your teams' workflow. It needs to keep a log of all sales activities in one place so that another sales rep could pick up a case or a manager could check in on the status of any account. Many CRMs also make individual performance metrics accessible to the entire team, so that every rep understands how well they're doing and what they need to do to improve.
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