Yes, your sales pipeline is truly your lifeline for future business success. You have heard me say this many times before, “no sales forecast = no business; no sales pipeline = no business!”
We are heading towards a world of perfect knowledge. With a trillion sensors gathering data everywhere (autonomous cars, satellite systems, drones, wearables, cameras), you will be able to know anything you want, anytime, anywhere, and query that data for answers and insights. Yet with all this information available at our fingertips, many solopreneurs and small business owners today know very little about where their new business revenues will come from next week, month, quarter and so forth.
Why? Because far too many business owners don’t have an accurate sales pipeline to forecast and monitor their progress.
How can you be expected to make intelligent decisions about where and how to invest in your business without accurate data available to predict monthly inflows (revenue) from sales and outflows (expenses)? The short answer is you can’t!
A well-defined sales pipeline will enable you to project how much revenue will be generated on a weekly, monthly, quarterly basis from your selling efforts. You can then compare the actual results to the sales pipeline forecast to get an accurate view of your sales performance for any given period.
Without this kind of detailed information, you’re shooting in the dark and putting your income and your business at risk.
As the sales pipeline example reflects, it is important for business owners to clearly define the various steps in the sales process from the First Call through Customer Acceptance (CA) and assign a probability of sale (POS) at each stage. Why? Because this will provide you both an unconstrained (perfect world) and constrained (adjusted) view of your opportunity base. You can then audit the actual results against your sales forecast to assess how you’re doing.
Building and managing the sales pipeline is fairly straight-forward and should be a critical part of the budget and sales planning process for every business. This approach will help you and your sales team manage revenue bookings and the sales funnel process more effectively for each opportunity. As a management and tracking tool, it will also help to improve forecasting accuracy and “win rates”.
If you do not have a sales pipeline process in place today to accurately forecast and monitor your progress, then I would encourage you to develop one — contact me for assistance. The future success of your business could depend on it.
Enjoy the journey!
COPYRIGHT © 2015 John Carroll