Effective Pipeline Management


Maintaining a healthy and successful sales organization is vital to the future of your company in the competitive Senior Housing and Post-Acute markets. Effective pipeline management can drastically improve your sales and revenue growth. Using metrics and easy-to-read reports will help sales representatives manage each opportunity. Download our sales pipeline report to identify where prospects and referral sources fall in your sales process.

Why pipeline management is important.

Managing the pipeline is the key to maintaining a healthy and successful sales organization. In simple terms, a pipeline is a strategic snapshot of where each lead is in your sales process. Based on your average sales cycle length, you can use your pipeline to forecast how many sales your team is expected to close in a given time-frame.

If you’ve implemented a sales methodology and process, you probably have a pipeline already but you may not have direct insight into it. Effective pipeline management can drastically improve your sales and revenue growth, allowing you to apply a standard to predict future growth and revenue. Not only that, but you can also easily identify gaps and problems in the process.

How to measure your pipeline.

Most organizations are unsuccessful at managing their pipeline. But, this can be easily overcome by applying a format, a common language, a process and a reporting standard.

Long-term care organizations should first define each stage of your sales process. Be specific. Ensure each sales person follows this common language. Definitions should include series of questions such as:

  • Is there a real need involved?
  • Do they financially meet our criteria?
  • Is the influencer and buyer on board?
  • What other options are they considering?
  • What is the urgency of the decision?
  • Do we know their decision-making process?
  • How well does our solution fit their needs?
  • Have we identified where they are in their process?
  • What is their deadline?

If you consider the factors above in your qualification, you will be able to better understand your pipeline and projections. Most importantly, you have the ability to determine the weight using win probability, not where a prospect is in the sales process.

Also, look at factors that make or break a deal such as the need to sell their home or a family member who wants them to move closer to them.

Pipeline management can also be applied to post-acute care and referral sources. Similar to defining lead stages, define the process stages for each new referral source and track the volume of referrals in each pipeline. For example, you may have a preliminary introduction stage prior to your referral source discovery. Definitions should uncover motivating factors for your referral sources such as:

  • Who do they currently refer to?
  • Is there a compelling reason why they would refer to your organization?
  • Do they work with others who influence their referral decisions?
  • Are they receptive to your messaging?
  • Are you currently receiving referrals from this source?

The next step is to apply a weight to each stage. This can be thought about as a probability of  close. For example, if you know that you close 20% of people who come visit, you may apply a weight of 0.20 to those who have visited and shown interest in continuing the conversation. 

Lastly, apply a tool like Enquire CRM. Ensure that this tool can provide clear insight into each stage of your sales process. Furthermore, this tool should allow sales representatives to easily gain visibility into their pipeline using a single report or set of reports. This system should also allow management to create automated reports to predict future sales and revenue.

Each organization can apply its own methodology and weights to each sales stage. Note that these weights should be realistic. If you’re looking for a place to start, pull sales trends from the last few years to identify conversions from different places in your sales process.

What are potential pipeline management pitfalls?

Of course there are downfalls to this method. Strengthening the guiding principles of this method makes it more reliable.

  1. The accuracy of this method relies on the sales representative and how much time they’ve spent qualifying each lead. It’s also affected by individual bias.

Because organizations rarely have a concrete definition in please for what each sales stage means, this becomes each sales representatives’ judgment call. Additionally, you will encounter sales representatives who “sandbag” deals. Combat this by hosting a weekly meeting on one pipeline report to review.

  1. The weighted average can be misleading as each deal has a distinct path and differs from lead to lead.

Ensure you have a common lead qualification as well as items that make or break the deal. Additionally, ensure you have a common language established. Only organizations that have set a strong  and defined foundation with a series of valid assumptions for qualification find this method useful.

  1. Applying inflated weighted values to the pipeline will skew your numbers and make this method inaccurate.

Obviously, you should evaluate each opportunity on its own merits. Since this is time consuming, we recommend using a streamlined approach to managing pipeline and predicting revenue. Make sure to create realistic buckets for the weights.

Click below to download the Sales Pipeline Report!

Sales Tool - Effective Pipeline Management 

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