23 April 2006

The pipeline

A pipeline or sales funnel is simply an assessment of the number of open deals that the sales team is involved with at a point in time. Sales pipelines are often used ... badly. Sales managers simply aren't given much guidance in how to use them effectively. One of the key problems is that managers and their bosses frequently mistake quantity for quality. The most important deals in the pipeline aren't the biggest, they are the ones that the sales team can close.

The pipeline is just a tool to report what is going on. In an ideal world, a pipeline report provides the team leader - the manager - with the type of information that will help him construct specific interventions and support for the individual team members so that they can close business and bring in their targets. In the real world, the pipeline very often becomes an end in itself.

Sales managers need to ask themselves, "What kind of systems would help our sales teams to succeed?" The answers might be very different from the systems currently in place.

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