Assessing the Quality of your Sales Pipeline

By Kevin Steffey

We are nearly 1 month into the second half of the year.  How are you feeling about your chances of meeting or exceeding your sales targets? 

How strong is your sales pipeline?If you are like many sales managers, you rely on the quality of the information provided by your sales professionals on your pipeline of business opportunities.  However, the pipeline as represented by your representatives is often filled with opportunities that are in varying levels of quality. A thorough review of you pipeline can either validate your confidence or give you an early warning of areas to address.

  1. Are there enough prospective opportunities entering the sales process or currently in the process?  Review the business that is currently in various stages of your sales cycle and apply your typical close rates, sales cycle and average deal sizes to see the value of business currently in your pipeline that has a chance of closing this year. Also, look at the volume of new business entering the pipeline on a weekly basis to assess how much you will add to your pipeline and close in the upcoming months.  Often the biggest hurdle to meeting your sales plan is having enough business to work and keeping a strong eye on the lead generation sources to ensure proper flow of new business.
  2. Are the right types of deals in the pipeline?  A common challenge for sales managers is keeping the team focused on working on the right opportunities – not just the easiest opportunities.  Review the pipeline to see if the mix of business is skewed to less profitable product lines or customer types?  Also, looking at the average deal size in the pipeline is critical to ensure that your sales assumptions are valid.  Test the values put in by your sales professionals.  Are they in line with typical deal sizes or are they inflated? Is there a trend you didn’t expect with the sales price or profit margin being pressured by competition or market dynamics?
  3. Is the business moving through the pipeline at the proper pace?  As you review the opportunities with your sales professionals, are the identified next steps with each opportunity occurring when they say they should?  Do the same opportunities keep showing up week in and week out at the same stage of the sales process? It is important to make sure that your percentage of opportunities moving from one stage to the next is not fundamentally changing from your assumptions.

As you compare the results in each of these areas across your sales professionals and against your norms, you will have a strong sense of how confident you should be in your plan.  As you identify your outliers, those reps that are struggling to add the right type and quantity of business and move it through the sales process, you can start to take corrective action and work with those team members to adjust as needed to hit targets.

Kevin Steffey is President of Naviga Recruiting & Executive Search, a national Sales and Marketing Recruitment firm.  Kevin and Naviga have a passion for sales and marketing positions due to their direct impact on the growth of their customers. Check out www.navigarecruiting.com to engage a partner in growing and developing your team.