If you are running an MSP company, you want to build and maintain a reliable and efficient sales structure, as your company’s growth directly depends on it.
Whether your intention is to make a dominantly proactive, reactive, or hybrid sales plan, it has to be well-designed, consistent, and effective. Plus, you must know exactly where you stand in present sales cycles at any given moment.
Sales Pipeline - Key Gauge for Managing Sales
For this, you will need trustworthy gauges that will guide you through the many unknowns and difficulties of running a business and managing future sales. The sales pipeline is one of those gauges.
What is the sales pipeline? In short, the sales pipeline is the process and corresponding visual representation of tracking potential buyers. It helps you track where your prospects are on their path to becoming actual buyers.
As a visual aid, a sales pipeline should display the number of prospects you have and their position at each stage in the pipeline. Graphically, it can be very simple, but building a sales pipeline is definitely not.
Why Managing Sales Pipeline Is Important
The main goal of your sales team is the conversion of leads into new customers quickly and frequently. If your sales staff follows a repeatable set of procedures, develops good habits, and shares learnings, you will be closer to achieving that goal.
But, what does the sales pipeline have to do with those procedures, habits, and learning? Why is your sales pipeline important?
First, humans are visual beings. Second, people rely on structure. Your sales staff are no exception. Visualization of the sales process helps your staff monitor the progress of their journey from lead generation to closing the deal.
Having an accurate picture of where they are within the sales process in front of their eyes helps the salespeople work better and boost the company’s revenue. Improving sales results means more money for the company and for the sales representatives as well.
That is why keeping your sales pipeline relevant and up-to-date is so important to your MSP business.
How to Keep Track of the MSP Sales Progress
Keeping track of the sales progress means not to “misplace” your prospect while they are en route to purchase. Keep in mind – your sales pipeline is every email, call, or meeting you have had with anyone who might be interested in your services, and there may be thousands of them located in any phase of the sales pipeline.
Tracking sales on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis ensures that potential opportunities do not get lost. It is also a matter of measuring your salespeople’s results in reaching sales goals as the parameter of success.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is one of the commonly used ways to keep tabs on the pipeline.
Effective Sales Pipeline Tips
The sales pipeline closely follows your sales cycle – a series of events that take place during the process of selling a service. Some tips on how to make the pipeline more effective may come in handy.
Devise Your Own Sales Cycle
A sales cycle structure is not set in stone. Although the key principles of the cycle are the same across all businesses, there is always sufficient space for improvement and customization.
The customization and fine-tuning are especially applicable in sub-steps of the sales cycle, where one phase meets and intertwines another. Achieving the goal always supersedes theory.
Get New Leads
Among all steps of the MSP company sales cycle, prospecting and making contact is to a great degree industry-specific. Managed services are by definition offered as a B2B model to companies willing to outsource some of their non-core activities to IT professionals. So setting up the right MSP proposal might prove to be crucial to sales results.
Reaching out to your potential customers can hardly go well on local radio or at a country fair. Your sales reps have to use techniques, procedures, and communication channels that are favored by the prospects.
Emailing is definitely one of them. For that purpose, your team will need adequate tools for sending one-time or recurring emails. Moreover, you’ll need to make sure that you track your emails to ensure that no lead gets lost.
Valid emails of the prospects are the product of due diligence well done, together with the support of software tools that help your team boost their number.
There are many ways you can expand your email list and one of them is to build a qualified email list from LinkedIn – gather information about your target group directly from the social media channel you use to communicate with them.
Work Hard on Follow-Ups
A recent survey discovered that it takes an average of 8 follow-ups to close the deal, while an average sales rep makes only 2 follow-up iterations. A good piece of advice for being persistent, yet not too pushy is to use different communication channels.
Not All Leads Are Equal
You should concentrate your efforts on the best, high-value leads. New leads that can bring less value should be demoted, sometimes even abandoned.
Also, letting go of a dead lead is important for keeping the sales cycle healthy. A lead is considered dead when they openly say they are not interested, when they are unreachable, or cannot be pushed through to the next stage of the pipeline despite thorough follow-up efforts.
Listen to the Metrics
In order to keep track of your MSP sales progress, you will need key performance indicators (KPIs). They let you gauge your sales representatives’ actions and the entire sales process.
KPIs provide you with invaluable data on which you should make core business decisions, create and adjust sales strategies, and steer sales processes. Some of them are:
- Number of deals in your pipeline
- Average value of the deals in your pipeline
- Average percentage of deals that you win (closing ratio)
- Average timespan of the individual sales cycle of a deal before it is closed (sales velocity)
Lead qualification is the process of evaluating potential customers based on their financial ability and willingness to purchase from you. If your team does its homework properly, the sales reps will know well whether to pursue a lead further up through the cycle or not.
The three key questions to answer during the prospect’s qualification phase are:
- Do they need your service (being aware of the need or not)?
- Can they afford it?
- Do they have a budget for it?
- Who is the person authorized to make the purchase (decision maker)?
Move Qualified Leads Through the Sales Cycle
When a prospect is vetted as qualified, there are 3 more steps left to be done before the purchase is closed – nurturing the prospect, presenting your offer, and addressing objections.
A qualified lead that is unable to make the purchase decision has to be nurtured until the conditions for moving up the sales pipeline are met.
Presenting your offer is the finale of your pre-sales efforts. You do not sell only the product, you sell your company, the sales rep sells their persona, and you all sell your promise that you will solve the client’s problems and needs.
For a successful presentation of the offer, try hard not to use outdated sales meeting tools, as they can seriously jeopardize all efforts put into closing the deal.
Finally, buyers might have a few additional worries to say to you, and do not hesitate to address them in an honest and professional manner.
Make Your Sales Pipeline More Efficient Using a CRM Tool
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are software solutions for providing automated alerts to avoid taking appropriate sales-related actions toward customers in the pipeline.
Automating these alerts provides consistent scheduling for sales team members to follow up and communicate with customers.
CRM also eliminates possible excuses. The software tracks all activities as and when they have been performed, providing thus accountability of each salesperson.
Keep it Fresh and Up-to-Date
The sales pipeline is not static. The best sales organizations regularly review their sales pipeline and techniques to make sure things are finely-tuned and highly optimized to ensure maximum efficiency and success.
Regarding the actual data, the pipeline is constantly changing – new leads are added, they move through from one phase to the next, and when the deal is closed, they are moved from acquisition to the field of customer retention.
The CRM software will automate some of the data, but a meticulous administration of sales process information is warranted.