Here is another reprint from the Manta Q and A section. This one addresses effective management of your sales pipeline and how to use their online tool to give you insight into where you should spend your time. Give it a read…

Screen Name: Manta User

Question: How do I manage my sales pipeline effectively?

Manta User,

Effective management of your sales pipeline will depend on your ability to assess your prospect’s mindset and your ability to move them through the various stages of the sales process. If you have you a sales process in place and you have achievable outcomes at the end of each stage, then you can pinpoint exactly where your prospects are in your pipeline. This will give you a better idea of your overall production for the week, month, quarter and year.

There are a couple of tools out there that can integrate with your CRM and give you an overview of your sales efforts. Manta has a facility that allows you to move potential prospects directly from your online research efforts into the first stage of your sales pipe. It also allows you to schedule activities around these prospects and creates a standard ICS file that can integrate into your Google or calendar. You can find it in the myManta section.

To effectively manage your sales pipeline, you need to realize a few things. First, you can only handle so much at any given time (your “pipe” has a finite capacity). Second, you need to keep moving opportunities through the “pipe” and out the “close” end, (closing the deal). And lastly, you need to keep putting prospects in at the front end (prospecting and lead generation).

Naturally, the better you are at managing your resources (time, money, personal brand, etc…) the more you can handle, increasing the capacity of your “pipe”. But unless you get better at managing your resources and making your “pipe” bigger, stuffing more prospect in at the front end will only result in frustration, not in won opportunities.

In the Manta Pipeline page, the “%close” tab is the sales stage where your particular prospect currently resides. Naturally, when you get them to 100%, the deal has been closed and you have the purchase order in your hand. If you have the majority of your prospects down at the 10% stage, however, it’s going to take some time and effort before you can extract something from the other end of the pipeline.

If you look upon the sales pipeline as a flow characterization, it can give you new insight into your activity management. For example, if you look at your myManta pipeline and see that 75% of your prospects today are at the 50% stage of the pipeline, then you have a better idea of where you need to focus your energy in order to get things moving. It also means that only 25% of your prospects are distributed along the rest of your “pipe”. If you see no prospects at the 10% stage, then you can expect a bubble of zero prospects (AKA a dry spell) to begin moving through your pipe. That’s when it is time to spend time performing lead generation activities.

The sales pipeline is a visual to help you manage your resources and activities against your prospects and clients. To effectively manage your sales pipeline, you will need to 1. Tie your sales activity to a process with discernable stages. 2. Manage your own resources to maximize your capabilities; 3. Monitor the “pipe” constantly and use it as a meter to gauge where to expend your resources and activities. Use the Manta Pipeline utility to manage your prospects as you conduct your research and it will help organize your sales activity for maximum productivity.