Best practices for maintaining a clean sales pipeline

clean sales pipeline

Cleanliness and a neat appearance have always been characteristics of paramount importance to sales people. Presenting yourself immaculately to a client has long been noted as a mark of respect, and good manners. Plus, well turned-out cold callers had a better chance of making a favorable first impression.

But, cleanliness of all kinds is equally important, and one form of cleanliness has become monumentally important to modern sales teams – that is, a clean sales pipeline.

Keeping a clean sales pipeline is a fundamental to keeping a business moving forward, across all stages of the sales process.

But, what is a clean sales pipeline, and why it’s so important for your present and future success? Also, let’s look at why that cleanliness can save you when the going gets tough, and why you need the benefit of a clear and concise overview that comes with a clean and well organised sales pipeline.

What is a clean sales pipeline?

A clean sales pipeline is well designed from the outset, delivering an uncluttered view of sales opportunities through all stages of the sales process. It shows opportunities which are likely to convert to deals, and those which are going nowhere. It illustrates insights into present and future predictions. And a clean sales pipeline manages all communications between clients and the sales team.

A well organised pipeline should identify any bottlenecks, and their ultimate resolution. Great pipelines may even help you through times when your competitors struggle.

For a clean pipeline it’s recommended your CRM uses no more than 5 or 6 stages; keeping the design efficient, simplistic, and ready for instant analysis.

The ideal clean sales CRM pipeline should be:

  • Well designed – employing no less than two and no more than six stages
  • Effective – managing all sales opportunities and their information once captured
  • Intuitive – alerting you to deals which have remained stationery in the pipeline for too long
  • Easy to analyse – offering information on the optimum time frame deals should remain in a stage, and whether deals have been lost or won
  • Communicative – neatly organising all communication history from both individuals and companies
  • Editable – allowing you to change the status of deals, contact details and communications instantly and easily
  • Analytical – offering you the possibility to really learn from each stage of the sales process and use this knowledge to your advantage in the future

How to keep a clean sales pipeline

Meticulous stage management is the key to a clean and healthy CRM sales pipeline, but what is stage management and how is it performed?

1. Limit your pipeline stages

– Each stage of your pipeline should have been well considered, and be designed accordingly. The stages should be designed to solve problems – such as the optimum length of time opportunities remain in any stage. Stages should offer sales goals and success probabilities, they should offer insights into communications history, and reminders of actions to be taken. Real answers to real problems. Have no more stages than absolutely necessary. Most experts recommend that your pipeline should have between 3 and 6 stages.

2. Unblock the blockages

– The most likely cause of blockages in your sales pipeline are leads which are going nowhere. These stagnant leads waste your sales team’s time, and your money. Set time scales and stick to them; cull all leads which look like they are dormant and without any realistic possibilities. Regularly inspect your sales management CRM to allow you to identify bottlenecks before they become a problem.

3. Manage your communications

– Regularly instruct your sales team on the importance of updating information in the CRM software. The information they gather is key to their, and your success. Careful management of all communications within the pipeline stages – emails, phone calls, meetings, shared files, and notes – will ensure access to all vital information where and when it’s needed.

4. Clean by design

– Be 100% certain that your CRM sales pipeline stages have been designed with your specific needs and individual requirements in mind. Furthermore, the stages need to solve problems. Even before implementing a sales CRM, awareness of the desired outcomes is the core to designing a smooth and maintenance-free pipeline. For example; if in the past communications management has been a problem, leading to lost opportunities, addressing this problem in the stages of your pipeline offers you solutions from the outset. A smart CRM will allow single, or shared ownership of leads, with all communications being shared among all concerned.

Keep the pipeline clean and moving

Use your CRM software to keep the process moving at all costs, through all stages: lead sourcing; smart communication management; deal positioning; and by utilising all facets of the CRMs intuitive analytical abilities.

A sales CRM with a clean sales pipeline will ensure that your valuable sales team are working smarter, stronger, and more productively, which ultimately leads to more sales in less time. Now that can’t be bad.

Brendan Harding is an Irish-born content creative living and working in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. Before his engagement with Teamgate Brendan spent over 12 years roaming the globe, visiting over 80 countries as a travel and features journalist, writing for both traditional and online publications. As lead content writer with Teamgate, his role is to discover new angles for telling interesting, informative, and educational stories from the world of business.