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Preface

I attempted to formulate a new and comprehensive


attitude toward IT and its use by companies and people.
I said that it is not enough that IT merely functions. If
companies use IT solutions strategically, they can also
look forward to substantial potential growth and competitive advantages. Gaining these opportunities requires
new and forward-looking views, which I publish in the
following E-booklets.
The sales department is a key to corporate success more than ever before. It faces
new challenges in a time when the Internet has changed a sellers market into a
buyers market. Sales and the salespeople who do sales do not get the credit
they deserve in many companies. That has to change.
To develop innovative IT solutions for sales, businesses are called upon and
required to assign greater value to sales and all the managers and skilled
employees working in sales. In the E-booklets, I discuss that sales management
software in the future has to have a completely new approach to sales.
As an example my own Software Pipeliner is a program to support the forwardlooking orientation of companies. It drives home the point that attitudes and
mindsets are the crucial factors in the successful use of the IT Revolution. Anyone
who ignores them runs the risk of being among the losers in the years to come.
Those who understand them generate benefits and win. The Pipeliner Principles
described in the E-booklets opens up new perspectives for many people. I hope
you will be among them.

Nikolaus Kimla

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Content
Pipeline Management:
The Backbone of Your Enterprise

Pipeline Management:
Critical to Attaining Company Goals

Pipeline Management:
A Self-Sustaining Success

12

Pipeline Management:
The Vital Importance of Automation

16

CRM and Booming Your Company

20

Where CRM Can Go Wrong

24

Contact

28

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PIPELINE MANAGEMENT:
THE BACKBONE OF YOUR
ENTERPRISE

Sales Pipeline Management

Much has been written (and spoken of) regarding the need for an accurate sales
process also known as sales pipeline management. Pipeline management means
having your sales cycle from lead to close laid out in exact steps, each of which
must be taken to obtain a successful sale. It might also be called opportunity
management.

Scale of Possibilities
Companies generally fall into a rough range of possibilities with regard to pipeline
management:

Every man for himself


Certainly the most common in startups and smaller companies, this means that
each salesperson has their own pipeline, normally visualized in their own minds.
Out of a sense of fear of competition with other reps, it is often not shared.

Sharing the wisdom


In this scenario, the more experienced and successful sales reps share the successful pipeline management steps they take to reach a closed sale. These steps
are never established as official sales policy, however, are not monitored nor used
for measure of success.

Fixed pipeline
A sales pipeline is established and made mandatory, and is used for sales as well
as forecasting and analysis. Periodically it might be evaluated for effectiveness
and possible improvements, but it remains relatively inflexible.

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Sales Pipeline Management

Flexible Pipeline
This is the method by which the most successful companies operate. Feedback is
consistently elicited from salespeople as to the pipelines accuracy and reflection
of the real world. The pipeline is adjusted whenever needed to reflect necessary
changes in the sales process, or where a step is found out-of-place or unnecessary. In addition to the sales organization, the pipeline is utilized by many other
departments in the company.

Backbone of Your Enterprise


Taking a closer look at the flexible pipeline above,
it will be found that pipeline management is the
most successful where it most closely follows the
actual buying patterns of prospect and customer
companies. The deeper the understanding of your
customers and prospects and their various job
titles and personnel, the more successful will be
the development and accuracy of your pipeline.
This practice will also mean higher closing rates
and established trust: customers become partners.
Pipeline management so established becomes the backbone of your company.
The marketing department, closely examining patterns within the pipeline, can
establish effective lead generation programs. Finance, having to answer to important stakeholders within the company, can accurately forecast sales for the next
month, the next year, the next 5 years. Product development and R&D can obtain
valuable feedback about the companys products or services and proceed accordingly. And of course sales management can pinpoint where salespeople need
improvement or more importantly backup and reinforcement.

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Sales Pipeline Management

Flexible Pipeline Requires Flexible CRM


Sometimes negated in importance or budget allocation, the role of IT infrastructure in establishing pipeline management is crucial. A CRM application must
mirror your actual sales process and be flexible enough to be changed on the fly
if needed when changes are mandated in the pipeline.
A CRM tool must be intuitive enough that reps not only can easily make use of it,
but they actually enjoy it. This ease-of-use must spread throughout the company,
so that other departments such as marketing, development and finance will be
able to easily access it and utilize its valuable data.
A feature-rich application is great but only

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when it is truly flexible and useful. All the bells


and whistles in the world wont matter if your
CRM application is difficult to use and wastes
valuable sales and company time.

My view

Effective pipeline management is indeed the


backbone of the enterprise. It is well-worth a
companys time and effort to see it is firmly but
flexibly established. When it is, the sky is the limit.

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PIPELINE MANAGEMENT:
CRITICAL TO ATTAINING
COMPANY GOALS

Sales Pipeline Management

In many articles, books, seminars and webcasts over the last few years, the sales
process also known as pipeline management has been repeatedly emphasized. Pipeline management means isolating each of the necessary steps in a sales
cycle, and establishing them and making sure they are followed.
What may not be clear until you take a closer look is the fact that accurate and
effective pipeline management is essential to the attainment of long-term
company goals. For that reason, pipeline management might also be called
opportunity management.

Achieving Priorities
A recent report, the Growth Team
Membership Sales Leadership Priorities
Report 2013, listed these as the priorities
for companies in 2013:
Aligning sales process with customers
decision-making
Understanding customer needs
Devising effective customer strategies
Enhancing sales productivity (focusing on the highest-value activities)
Defining and implementing metrics (e.g. retention, profitability) to evaluate
critical sales activities
Ensuring accurate reporting of forecasted sales opportunities in the pipeline
It is interesting to note that none of these are possible without flexible, intelligent pipeline management. The first priority sets the stage; it is making sure
a pipeline is wholly accurate. But the remainder of these priorities can only take
when that is done.

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Sales Pipeline Management

Customer Strategies
The next priority on the list, that of understanding customer needs, not only
comes from interacting with customers and documenting the results, it comes
about through having a pipeline clearly and accurately laid out, and carefully
analyzing it. From where do leads come, and why? What are the common
customer issues stated in the first interviews? How are customers reacting
to your product or service? How often must customer service or support
become involved, and what are the results? Answers to these and similar questions will all be available in a properly executed pipeline, and

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will lead to a full understanding of customer needs.


From this understanding comes the devising of
effective strategies both for existing customers

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and for prospects. Based on pipeline data, you


now have a sharp idea of elements such as what
will obtain response, what features should be
promoted, which prospects or customers should
be approached as priorities, and who in the
company you should speak with.

Productivity and Measure


Probably the most obvious of these priorities as they relate to pipeline management is that of enhancing productivity focusing on the highest-value activities.
With a pipeline realistically reflecting the sales process steps, it will be abundantly
clear which activities should be engaged in, and in what order. With a well-done
pipeline a salesperson can quickly and easily put together the to-do-list for
each day, and his or her manager will have confidence that the correct tasks are
being accomplished.

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Sales Pipeline Management

Likewise the next priority defining and implementing metrics to evaluate critical
sales activities is established with relative ease when a standard report can be
run based on each of the steps throughout the pipeline management stages.

Forecasting
It is only with solid and realistic pipeline management in place that accurate sales forecasting
can occur. With each potential sale properly
evaluated and rated at each step, and with
closing ratios isolated and understood, analysis
can be undertaken to show the potential result
of all the leads and sales within a pipeline.
Stepping further back, analysis can demonstrate
how many leads need to be obtained up the line
to accomplish a certain level of sales. An entire
enterprise can be shown what needs to occur
for the company to meet their goals.

CRM
All of this planning and implementation will not be possible without a flexible,
intuitive CRM tool. With such a program sales reps can easily name, accomplish
and report on priorities; sales management can readily view and evaluate sales
reps progress; and management and finance can accurate assess and forecast
sales.
You and everyone else in the company are working hard to ensure your company
goals are met. Take the one step that will provide the rocket fuel for attainment of
those goals: effective pipeline management.

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PIPELINE MANAGEMENT:
A SELF-SUSTAINING SUCCESS

Sales Pipeline Management

As discussed in many sales forums, articles and blogs these days (including our
recent articles), pipeline management also known as the sales process is
vital to sales and company expansion. Laying out the separate steps of the sales
process and making sure they are followed is the only way of bringing control to
sales, both for the salespeople and sales management.

If played right, pipeline management is also


a self-sustaining success.

A Real-World Example
From the CSO Insights Sales Management Optimization 2013 Key Trends Analysis
comes a true story that clearly illustrates how effective pipeline management can
lead to ever-increasing sales success.
A particular company that processes insurance claims for physicians, as part of
their opportunity management process, required salespeople to note each tactic
utilized at each step of the sales cycle, right in the CRM database. Over a period of
years, this practice resulted in a wealth of valuable data, and someone finally had
the bright idea of mining the data and analyzing it.
That analysis isolated several highly successful tactics. For example, a salesperson would offer to conduct an audit of the prospects current insurance claims
processing costs. It was found that, in deals that had closed, the prospect had
taken advantage of the audit offer twice as often as in deals that didnt close and
were lost.

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Sales Pipeline Management

This is a very good example of using pipeline management to clearly isolate successful sales methods. Once such methods are discovered, they can be put to use
by the entire sales force and result in higher profit and attained company goals.

Lead Generation
Company sales organizations are constantly on the lookout for great sources of
sales leads. They may be ignoring one that is sitting right before them: their very
own pipelines.
One method of utilizing pipeline management for sales
leads is to conduct an analysis, within the pipeline, of the
deals that have closed. Examine the types of companies, the
industries, the buying patterns. It then becomes a matter of
seeking out similar companies within that industry, territory, etc. and cultivating them as priority leads.
Another method, long in use with successful salespeople, is prospecting at the close. Make it a step
of your sales process to ask, after the sale is closed
and after the prospect has become a satisfied
customer (important), who else should be using your
product or service. Funnel the leads so obtained right
back into the pipeline so they can be worked.
Since word of mouth is the most powerful type of lead a company can obtain
(per countless analyses of leads through the years) it is also very advantageous
to obtain permission from your customer to use their name when contacting the
leads they have given you. Or, if at all possible, coax your customer to email or call
the lead before you do with their recommendation of your product or service.

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Sales Pipeline Management

CRM Behind the Success


These are all great methods of utilizing the sales process itself to generate future
sales but none of them are possible without a CRM tool that easily allows them.
Make sure your company has chosen a CRM application that is flexible, intuitive,
and has the tools for quick analyses. The time and money spent on the right CRM
is well worth it, as it will pay for itself many times over.

Correct and cleverly used pipeline management can be


a self-sustaining success. Put it to work in your company
and leave the competition in the dust.

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PIPELINE MANAGEMENT:
THE VITAL IMPORTANCE
OF AUTOMATION

Sales Pipeline Management

When allocating a budget in an enterprise, automation often takes somewhat of


a back seat to other matters. While the causes for this are many and varied and
fodder for random and age-old finger-pointing we will not attempt to examine
them here, but simply demonstrate the vital importance of IT support for one
crucial activity: sales pipeline management.

Pipeline Steps
When developing the sales process into discreet pipeline steps, automation must
come in on the ground floor. At the very least, the IT department must be fully
advised of the various sales process steps, once they are decided upon and implemented, so that these steps can be automated for use.
If this is not done, everyone from the sales
reps to financial officers will have a very
difficult time trying to adapt to automation
that is not reflective of current company
operations. Whereas if this step is taken,
automation is working hand-in-glove with

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current company activity and will only


benefit it.
It may be discovered at this juncture that
the existing CRM tool is not flexible enough
to embrace the pipeline management steps
that have been evolved. If this is the case, it is highly advisable to choose another
CRM tool that will be flexible enough. While this may requires an unexpected
outlay of funds, simply trying to customize the existing CRM application will cost
the company far more in the future as intelligent use of the pipeline is further
developed in wasted sales, executive and IT time and resources.

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Sales Pipeline Management

Sales Use
It is the on-the-ground sales force that will be making the most important use of a
CRM application. Their time is obviously quite valuable minutes or hours spent
not selling cost the company money. That time can be wasted if a salesperson
must hunt for needed information, and drastically wasted if that needed information cannot be found because there was no way for it to be input in the first place.
Conversely, if automation is properly utilized from the get-go to support sales
activity, that needed information will be just a click away. A salesperson will be
able to record vital data in its proper place, so that it can later be accessed and
utilized to push the sale along to a close.
Once again, the choice of CRM application is critical. It must be intuitive and easy
for sales reps to learn, access and constantly use. It could even be posed as an
objective that the application be enjoyable.

Analysis and Forecast


A prime use of sales automation is analysis by
salespeople, sales management and finance
executives. A salesperson must be able to
quickly examine his or her pipeline and know
if they are on-target, behind target, or ahead.
Sales management must be able to view the
pipeline activity of each of their reps, and their
department as a whole, and accurately know

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where they stand. Senior and finance executives must be able to forecast sales for the next
month, year and years, and know their forecasts
are as realistic as possible.

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Sales Pipeline Management

It can be stated flatly that none of these important functions are possible if automation
isnt fully supporting pipeline management.
Whereas if pipeline management is accurately
represented by automation, analyses and forecasts will be highly useful and result in further
company expansion and profit.
In addition to mirroring the pipeline, the CRM
tool chosen must also allow intuitive and easy
creation of these analyses and reports. This
again comes back to the choice of CRM tool;
flexible analysis and reporting functions must
be a priority in the choice of CRM.
With automation given its proper priority in relation to sales pipeline management, pipeline management truly becomes opportunity management.

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CRM (CUSTOMER
RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT)

AND BOOMING YOUR


COMPANY

Sales Pipeline Management

Automated tools for CRM customer relationship management have been


around in one form or another since the advent of computers. It is a digital extension of the rolodex and other hand-kept methods that were used in times past
to keep track of prospects and customers. CRM today goes well beyond simple
contact management, however, and if intelligently utilized can help steer an enterprise into whole new levels of profitability.

Contact Management
The original purpose of CRM was to record
contact information for a prospect or a
customer, and to provide information about
the importance of various personnel within
a company and details of interaction with
them. Scheduling was also part of early
contact management systems; a sales rep
could scroll through an application and put
together a list of calls or visits for the day.
Or, a more advanced application would cull
through the database itself and provide a
to-do list for a particular day.

CRM (customer relationship management)


advancements
As automation evolved, CRM software came about. At that point, it was possible
to label a sales cycle as to its various stages of the sales process (even if a formal
sales process had not been adopted). For example, if a name in a database was
simply a lead, it would be labeled as such. If someone had demonstrated actual
interest in the product or service, it could be so noted. On the actual commitment

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Sales Pipeline Management

to buy, the sale could be shown as booked with a dollar amount attached to it.
And, of course, closed sales could be shown.
CRM software, for the first time, made possible the visualization and overview of
a companys sales where they stood, how much they could expect to make in a
certain period of time, and how various sales reps were performing. To varying
degrees CRM customer relationship management gave sales management and
executives a clearer view of sales than
had been previously available.
Today, CRM applications offer many
different options, including detailed
analyses of product lines, forecasts, past
performance, sales teams and individuals, and many others. They can also be
utilized for tracking of marketing campaigns and even provide valuable data
for product development.

Adaptation
For all the years it has been around, however, a critical stumbling block for CRM
customer relationship management has been adaptation. A CRM solution can
be sold to a company and implemented, but employees have a tough time understanding it, or find it doesnt closely enough reflect actual operations, find it too
complex, or simply too time-consuming. Executives and sales management cannot
easily use CRM to perform analyses or forecasts, and end up sticking to methods
they have always used. Additionally other departments in the company, such as
R&D or marketing, never learn about various options of the CRM that could assist
them in their jobs, so never take advantage of them.

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Sales Pipeline Management

While it is easy to blame a particular CRM product and its features, it is often a
lack of knowledge of its use rather than a faulty CRM product. Training in its use
has been weak, or the software vendor was lax in ensuring its customer really
understood the product. Once a CRM is up and running, it is much tougher to
get a CRM trained in as day-to-day work and putting out fires gets in the way of
trying to learn something new.
The bottom line, however, is that CRM customer relationship management is
a fantastic way to bring sales and expansion to your company. This is only true,
however, if the program is truly used and used correctly.

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WHERE CRM CAN GO WRONG

Sales Pipeline Management

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) can be an incredible boon to a


company. Moreover, for any enterprise operating in todays lightning-fast world of
digital commerce, adequate and effective CRM is a vital necessity.
But CRM can and often does become almost more of a hindrance than a workable
solution. Why does this occur, and what can be done about it?

CRM Priority
Within a companys overall budget,
automation is very often given a low
(or at least a lower) priority. While

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Sales Units

the reasons for this can be and are

Sales Unit

the subject of endless debate, the net

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effect is that adequate automation is


not provided for areas of the company
that truly need it. This is probably most

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Product depart.
Sales Team dep.

critical for sales and marketing, due to


their relationship to company success
which of course leads us right into the
subject of CRM.
This can of course mean that an
adequate customer relationship management system may not be purchased due
to price, but it can also mean adequate hardware or system requirements are
not available for the CRM to operate properly. It can also mean that CRM is not
a priority for IT to fully support. In any event, the net effect is a CRM that doesnt
back up sales and the company.
The solution is for a company to first fully evaluate what it needs in terms of
automation and CRM system to fully achieve its goals, without consideration of

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Sales Pipeline Management

budgetary constraints. Then find a way to meet those needs within or more closely
within the companys budget.

Input from All Affected Departments


Another reason a CRM can fail is that input is not obtained from the personnel
in the company most closely connected with it. At the very least, anyone charged
with purchasing and implementing a CRM customer relationship management
should spend a considerable amount of time right in the sales department,
watching salespeople work, noting the pitfalls they encounter, and talking with
them at length.
Sales, by no means, should be the
only sector of the company consulted. Sales managers should be
interviewed regarding their requirements for analyzing and forecasting
sales. Executives and finance officers
should be asked for their specific
needs as well. Marketing most
often left out of the loop should
be consulted for their needs as to
implementing campaigns, analyzing
promotion results, creating lead generation and more.
Where the above is not done, the CRM implementation can come off, to quote
an overused phrase, like a square peg being forced in a round hole. In the end, it
simply wastes very valuable time, morale, and resources.

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Sales Pipeline Management

Not Reflective of Real World


Another key reason a CRM can fall short of expectations is when it doesnt reflect
actual sales operations. Even if an actual sales process is not formally established,
salespeople always have patterns they follow in qualifying leads, making contact
with the prospect company, obtaining their requirements, providing needed information or demonstrations, and closing sales. A CRM that does not follow these
patterns or at least take them into account is useless to sales reps as well as other
CRM users throughout the company.
The result is a considerable expenditure with no return. Sales reps spend valuable
sales time inputting information that cannot be properly used. Analysis and forecasts will be inaccurate.

The solution is to fully evaluate your sales pipeline


before deciding on a CRM solution.

It would well behoove any company that finds itself with ineffective CRM
(customer relationship management) to take steps to reverse the problem, using
the above as a loose guideline and find its way to true prosperity.
Watch for more upcoming articles on CRM (customer relationship management)
issues and their solutions.

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Contact
Website: http://pipelinersales.com/
Email: info@pipelinersales.com

Phone: 1-888-843-6699
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Pipelinersales Inc.