3 Tips to Optimize Sales Pipeline Management and Grow RevenueMarch 22, 2021 | By Wayne O'Neill
It happens all the time. Sales teams at construction and design firms get stuck trying to advance target clients through their sales pipeline to win project scope.
Perhaps your strategy was disrupted by the pandemic or your typical tactics like closing deals over a round of golf no longer work in the “new normal.” That’s why you’ve come to RESET. You’re looking for something new to optimize sales pipeline management in your firm.
We offer solutions that are very different than what you may be accustomed to in the typical procurement or sales cycle. Our methodology, The Connection Process, will require work and require your sales reps to re-think the current approach to client engagement. It will pay off in the long run, though, if you commit to the process.
Instead of chasing down every sales opportunity, you’ll learn how to be selective, how to identify smart clients to approach, and how to win accounts, not just work. The results will be transformative leading to sustained revenue growth and a robust sales pipeline. Let’s get right to how to adapt and how to build a sales pipeline that will keep feeding itself over time.
Key Ways to Optimize Sales Pipeline Management
Think about a typical Monday morning. You open your CRM system, you look at a number of opportunities or qualified leads at various stages of the sales cycle, and you wonder why your team can’t seem to push some of these leads through the sales funnel to increase the conversion rate. By the end of the week, everything still seems stuck or slowly moving along.
Look, it’s not that anyone is necessarily doing anything wrong. It’s entirely possible that your team is simply doing what they think is best because this is what your firm has always done. Problems with your team’s approach are hiding in plain sight; they just aren’t being addressed because no one wants to change.
Change is hard. From company leaders to sales managers to sales reps, it’s difficult to reform your approach and take a risk on something new. But, that sales pipeline isn’t going to fix itself. You’re stuck, so let’s start fixing the problems.
1. What Problem Are You Trying to Solve?
Look at all the opportunities in your pipeline. Can your team readily identify the problem that each target client is facing? No, not the obvious problems stated in the RFP. What’s the hidden problem behind the problem? If your team doesn’t have a grasp of the larger problem and how to solve the larger problem, then your firm will simply blend in with the other firms responding to the client’s RFP.
You see, target clients are overwhelmed by competition and changes in their own market. They put out RFPs looking to address one aspect of their problem. It’s probably a very safe problem to solve that won’t cause a political firestorm inside the company. But, this is merely a surface issue. It’s not the larger problem.
Your team needs to develop some tools to dig deeper and uncover the larger problem that your target client is actually trying to solve.
– Don’t play the numbers game of simply being another firm responding to the RFP. This is why you’re stuck. You’re just another firm on a list of interchangeable construction and design firms.
– Don’t miss the opportunity to be leveraged for value and impact because you’re too busy responding to the exact specs in the RFP.
– Don’t fall in love with pitching your own solution that you miss opportunities to listen for clues. These clues are invaluable to understand what problem the client is really trying to solve and what the business driver is for these problems.
Find the real problem. Think bigger about how to solve the problem. Don’t settle. Keep looking for more information on the problem behind the problem!
2. Narrow Your Focus on Smart Clients
Many construction and design firms get stuck because they’re trying to win every potential piece of project scope. Guess what, you can’t win every client. It’s just not possible. If you end up trying to chase every opportunity in your pipeline, your team will start getting sloppy and lose focus on the right activities to pursue client engagement.
You are going to have to get real and maybe even ruthless about eliminating certain prospects from your pipeline. Encourage your team to make deliberate decisions about how to spend valuable connection time.
We all work with numbers on a daily basis, right? Here’s a magic number. Narrow down your prospect list to 7-8 prospects at a time. That is about as many client opportunities as you should be trying to manage in order to be effective at developing client connections.
I know what you’re thinking. You probably have double or even triple the number of prospects in your CRM. You don’t want to cut these prospects loose because your team has already spent valuable time working on these leads. Remember, though, it’s a different ballgame now. This isn’t a numbers game. It’s time to make hard choices. You can’t win every client. Managing your pipeline by making cuts is necessary so that you can win smart clients.
3. Care, Don’t Close
In the typical sales cycle, your team is so focused on just trying to close deals and win any project scope in the numbers game that you lose sight of the actual relationship.
Remember that no one likes to be closed or sold to. Clients want to be understood and they want to work with firms that care about the problems they are facing. Your team can show this care by doing the necessary homework to uncover larger problems that need to be addressed, and then presenting solutions that address the entirety of the situation, not just one aspect contained in the RFP.
As a leader in your organization, you need to set the tone by practicing authentic connection with clients throughout the sales process. Don’t let your team continue to fall back into their old bad habits of being so focused on their win rate that they stop practicing authentic connection.
This means you need to hold your team accountable for pursuing authentic connection. Otherwise, they will revert to the old path that got you stuck in the first place. You are the driver of change.
- Who knows your business objectives better than you?
- Who sets the pace for organizational change?
- Who else can make it possible to manage change in your organization?
When your team understands, embraces, and practices authentic connection, they will become more efficient with their outreach activities. They’ll understand how to show care to target clients by taking an extra step to uncover more information about the problems the client is facing. This will lead to a deeper understanding of the problem and how to solve the problem.
This isn’t possible if your team is busy chasing down every lead or just trying to reach sales goals every month. That’s an endless race to nowhere that will lead to discouragement and terrible connection with clients.
Pull back, scale back, and re-focus on the smart clients that you want to pursue. You’ll be better positioned to win project scope and, more importantly, win accounts that lead to long-term relationships. This is the real opportunity to realize exponential revenue growth.
Find Coaching Help for Sales Pipeline Management
Each construction and design firm that we work with is stuck at a different part of the sales pipeline. Perhaps you’re stuck all the way back at the beginning with lead generation. Or, you have plenty of leads, but your team isn’t closing deals and the sales forecast doesn’t look too promising.
Let’s get to work. Through our methodology, The Connection Process, we’ll help you uncover bad habits that need to change. We’ll then coach your sales team on how to develop better habits and a more productive approach to client engagement.
It will take time. This isn’t an overnight change. But, we will be with you for the long haul to support management of change in your firm.
We’d appreciate the opportunity to show you how to leverage connections with your target clients to eventually create faster, more sustainable revenue. Would you give us a call today to start working on a new approach to sales pipeline management? Let’s get going helping your firm grow in a more collaborative and intelligent way.