Jun 11, 2024 Digital BIAS

How to build a pipeline performance strategy in sales GTM

Pipeline performance strategy in GTM

Building a robust pipeline performance strategy is crucial for sales leaders, and it's incredibly challenging for those in SaaS and FinTech. Many sales leaders should pay more attention to it and rely less on outdated measurement methods, causing pipeline tracking and predictability issues. 

I’ve never understood why we seem to dislike tools like CRMs when, if used correctly, they provide most of the answers you need. Additionally, with AI making such vast strides in data analysis, why wouldn’t you adopt the latest tools and enable them properly?

I recently wrote an article about HubSpot Sales Hub and Ebsta being useful toolkits for any sales team, enhancing reporting, forecasting, and pipeline management. 

This article will guide you through the essential components of creating an effective pipeline performance strategy and integrate it within a broader go-to-market (GTM) and sales enablement framework.

Understanding Pipeline Performance Strategy

A robust pipeline performance strategy is essential for driving consistent revenue growth and ensuring the efficiency of the sales process. According to Operatix, setting ambitious targets and planning for exponential growth are critical steps in building a successful pipeline generation strategy. This involves aiming high and staying adaptable to the constant changes in the business environment. 

As highlighted by Ebsta, key performance indicators (KPIs) such as win rate, sales cycle length, average deal value, and sales pipeline velocity are fundamental metrics to track. These metrics provide insights into the pipeline's health and help identify bottlenecks that may slow the sales process. 

Additionally, defining a clear sales process that aligns with the buyer's journey, as The Center for Sales Strategy suggested, ensures that each step in the pipeline is necessary and effectively advances the sale. Regular pipeline reviews and sales enablement tools can enhance pipeline efficiency by automating routine tasks and providing real-time data for informed decision-making. 

By integrating these practices, sales leaders can maintain a dynamic and high-performing sales pipeline that adapts to market conditions and drives sustainable growth. This strategy is vital for predicting revenue, identifying bottlenecks, and improving conversion rates. So, what are the key components of the pipeline to measure?

Key Components of a Pipeline Performance Strategy

  1. Sales Process Definition: Clearly define each stage of your sales process. This includes lead generation, qualification, nurturing, proposal, negotiation, and closing. Each stage should have specific criteria and actions associated with it.

  2. Lead Qualification: Implement a robust lead qualification process to ensure that only high-quality leads enter the pipeline. Use budget, authority, need, and timeline (BANT) criteria to assess lead quality.

  3. Pipeline Metrics: Track key metrics such as deal volume, sales velocity, conversion rates, and average deal size. These metrics help identify areas for improvement and forecast revenue accurately.

  4. Sales Enablement: Equip your sales team with the tools, content, and training to engage prospects effectively at each pipeline stage.

  5. Regular Review and Optimisation: Conduct regular pipeline reviews to identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement. Use data-driven insights to refine your sales process and strategies.

Integrating Pipeline Strategy within a Go-to-Market (GTM) Strategy

A GTM strategy outlines how a company will sell its products or services to customers. It includes identifying the target market, defining the value proposition, and choosing the sales and marketing channels. Integrating your pipeline strategy within the GTM framework ensures alignment and coherence across all sales activities.

Steps to Integrate Pipeline Strategy within GTM

  1. Identify Target Audience: Clearly define your ideal customer profile (ICP) and buyer personas. This will help you tailor your sales and marketing efforts to attract the right audience.

  2. Value Proposition and Messaging: Develop a compelling value proposition that addresses the pain points of your target audience. Ensure that your messaging is consistent across all channels and stages of the sales process.

  3. Sales and Marketing Alignment: Foster collaboration between sales and marketing teams to ensure a seamless flow of leads into the pipeline. Marketing should generate qualified leads, while sales should focus on converting them into customers.

  4. Sales Channels and Tactics: Choose the appropriate sales channels (e.g., direct sales, online sales, partnerships) and tactics (e.g., content marketing, social media, email campaigns) to reach your target audience effectively.

  5. Performance Metrics: Define key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of your GTM strategy. These could include lead generation rates, conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, and customer lifetime value.

Sales Enablement in SaaS and Fintech

Sales enablement plays a critical role in the SaaS and fintech sectors by equipping sales teams with the tools, content, and strategies needed to engage prospects effectively and close deals efficiently. In these industries, sales enablement involves aligning sales and marketing efforts to ensure a seamless flow of high-quality leads through the pipeline. 

This includes implementing strategic lead scoring, automating workflows, and providing ongoing training to sales teams. For instance, 

Overall, sales enablement in SaaS and fintech ensures that sales teams are well-prepared, data-driven, and capable of delivering value to prospects, ultimately driving higher conversion rates and revenue growth. So, let’s dive a little deeper into this.

Key Elements of Sales Enablement

  1. Content and Collateral: Provide sales reps with high-quality content such as case studies, whitepapers, product demos, and sales scripts. This helps them engage prospects and address their concerns effectively.

  2. Training and Development: Offer regular training sessions to keep the sales team updated on product features, industry trends, and sales techniques. Use platforms like MindTickle and Brainshark for sales readiness and training.

  3. Technology and Tools: Equip your sales team with the right tools to manage and track their activities. CRM systems like Salesforce and sales enablement platforms like SmartCue and ClickUp can streamline sales processes and improve productivity.

  4. Data and Analytics: Use data analytics to gain insights into sales performance and customer behaviour. This helps you make informed decisions and optimise sales strategies.

Implementing Sales Enablement in SaaS and FinTech

  1. Automated Lead Generation: Use automation tools to generate and nurture leads. Platforms like LinkedIn and CRM systems can help identify and engage potential customers at scale.

  2. Product Demos and Trials: Offer live demos and free trials to showcase your product's value. This is particularly effective in SaaS, where experiencing the product firsthand can drive conversions.

  3. Cross-Department Collaboration: Ensure that sales, marketing, and product teams work together to align their efforts. This collaboration is essential for creating a unified approach to sales enablement and achieving business goals.

  4. Continuous Improvement: Regularly evaluate and refine your sales enablement strategy based on feedback and performance data. This ensures your sales team is always equipped with the best resources and practices to succeed.

As you can see, building a pipeline performance strategy that integrates with your GTM and sales enablement strategies is essential for driving sales success in SaaS and FinTech. 

You can optimise your sales pipeline and achieve your revenue goals by defining a clear sales process, aligning sales and marketing efforts, and equipping your sales team with the right tools and training. Regular reviews and optimisation based on data-driven insights will ensure continuous improvement and sustained success.

How often should I review and update my sales pipeline to maintain accuracy?

Regularly reviewing and updating your sales pipeline is essential to maintaining its accuracy and effectiveness. The frequency of these reviews can vary based on several factors, including the size of your team, the length of your sales process, and how quickly new opportunities enter your pipeline. 

Here are some best practices based on the provided sources:

Recommended Review Cadence

1. Weekly Reviews

Weekly reviews are often necessary in dynamic sales environments where opportunities move quickly through the pipeline. This is particularly relevant for teams with shorter sales cycles or a high volume of deals.

  • Action Steps:
    • Set aside weekly time to review key metrics such as deal numbers, size, close ratios, and sales velocity.
    • Use these reviews to identify any immediate bottlenecks or issues that need addressing.

2. Biweekly or Monthly Reviews

For teams with longer sales cycles or fewer deals, biweekly or monthly reviews may be more appropriate. These reviews allow for a more comprehensive analysis of pipeline health and performance.

  • Action Steps:
    • Conduct in-depth reviews every two weeks or once a month to assess the overall health of the pipeline.
    • Focus on metrics such as the number of opportunities, opportunity sizes, close dates, and pipeline growth over time.

3. Regular Updates and Maintenance

Regardless of the review cadence, it is crucial to keep the pipeline updated regularly. This involves adding new leads, moving leads through the stages, and closing deals.

  • Action Steps:
    • Ensure sales reps regularly update the CRM with new information and notes for each lead.
      Use automation tools to track activities and maintain up-to-date records.

Key Metrics to Monitor

During a sales pipeline review, tracking key metrics is essential to understand the health of your sales process, identify bottlenecks, and make data-driven decisions to improve performance. Here are the key metrics to track based on the provided sources:

1. Number of Qualified Leads

This metric tracks the total number of leads that meet your qualification criteria and are ready to enter the sales pipeline. It helps ensure that your pipeline is consistently filled with high-quality leads.

  • Why It Matters: Without a steady flow of qualified leads, your sales pipeline can dry up, leading to missed revenue opportunities.

2. Lead Conversion Rate

This measures the percentage of leads that move from one stage of the pipeline to the next, from marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) to sales-qualified leads (SQLs).

  • Why It Matters: A high conversion rate indicates effective lead nurturing and qualification processes, while a low rate may highlight issues that need addressing.

3. Sales Cycle Length

This metric tracks the average time it takes for a lead to move through the entire sales pipeline and convert into a paying customer.

  • Why It Matters: Understanding the sales cycle length helps forecast revenue and identify stages where deals are getting delayed.

4. Win Rate

Win rate measures the percentage of qualified leads that turn into customers. It is a critical indicator of your sales team's effectiveness.

  • Why It Matters: A declining win rate may signal the need for improved sales training or process adjustments, while a high win rate indicates strong sales performance.

5. Average Deal Size

This metric tracks the average revenue generated per deal. It helps you understand the value of deals in your pipeline.

  • Why It Matters: Monitoring average deal size helps in revenue forecasting and identifying which types of deals contribute most to your bottom line.

6. Pipeline Value

Pipeline value is the total potential revenue of all deals currently in the pipeline. It provides a "best case scenario" view of future revenue.

  • Why It Matters: Tracking pipeline value helps set realistic sales targets and determine whether you are on track to meet revenue goals.

7. Sales Velocity

Sales velocity measures how quickly deals move through the pipeline, combining the number of opportunities, average deal size, win rate, and sales cycle length.

  • Why It Matters: High sales velocity indicates an efficient sales process, while low velocity may highlight areas that need improvement.

8. Deal Stage Conversion Rates

This metric tracks the conversion rates at each pipeline stage, from initial contact to closing.

  • Why It Matters: Identifying stages with low conversion rates helps pinpoint specific areas where prospects are dropping off and where process improvements are needed.

9. Cost per Lead

This metric calculates the average cost incurred to generate a single lead.

  • Why It Matters: Understanding cost per lead helps evaluate your marketing spend's efficiency and optimise budget allocation.

10. Number of New Opportunities

This tracks the number of new leads and prospects added to the sales pipeline over a specific period.

  • Why It Matters: Ensuring a steady influx of new opportunities is crucial for maintaining a healthy pipeline and achieving sales targets.

Tracking these key metrics regularly during a sales pipeline review provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of your sales process. 

By monitoring metrics such as the number of qualified leads, lead conversion rates, sales cycle length, win rate, average deal size, pipeline value, sales velocity, deal stage conversion rates, cost per lead, and the number of new opportunities, sales leaders can identify bottlenecks, optimise processes, and drive continuous improvement. 

This data-driven approach leads to increased revenue and sustainable growth based on a continuous improvement strategy.

Continuous Improvement

1. Review and Improve Pipeline Processes

Review and refine your sales processes regularly to ensure they remain effective. This includes adapting to changes in the market, customer behaviour, and internal strategies.

  • Action Steps:
    • Conduct periodic reviews to identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement.
    • Implement changes incrementally and monitor their impact on pipeline performance.

2. Leverage Technology and Data

Use CRM systems and sales automation tools to streamline pipeline management and gain actionable insights.

  • Action Steps:
    • Invest in tools that provide clear visibility into each pipeline stage and enable easy updates and tracking.
    • Utilise data analytics to identify trends and make data-driven decisions.

To maintain an accurate and effective sales pipeline, it is recommended that you conduct reviews weekly, biweekly, or monthly, depending on your specific sales environment. Regular updates and continuous improvement are essential to ensure the pipeline remains healthy and aligned with your sales goals. 

By monitoring key metrics and leveraging technology, sales leaders can optimise their pipeline management and drive better sales outcomes.

How to Identify and Address Inefficiencies in Your Sales Pipeline

Identifying and addressing inefficiencies in your sales pipeline is crucial for optimising your sales process and improving overall performance. Here are some strategies based on the provided sources:

1. Poor Pipeline Visibility

  • Symptoms: Difficulty in monitoring deals, determining the status of leads, and making reliable projections.
  • Causes: Poor data quality, lack of standardised processes, inadequate reporting tools, and inconsistent processes across teams.

2. Pipeline Imbalance

  • Symptoms: Uneven distribution of leads or opportunities, overloading some stages while others are empty.
  • Causes: Poor lead management, inadequate qualification criteria, inconsistent follow-up, inefficient sales processes, and insufficient resources.

3. Non-Opportunities and Aged-Out Opportunities

  • Symptoms: Logging every new opportunity without proper qualification, keeping aged deals in the pipeline.
  • Causes: Lack of proper qualification, pressure to show a full pipeline, and not removing stale opportunities.

4. Process or Workflow Silos

  • Symptoms: Difficulty in data sharing and reconciliation, delays in handoffs between teams.
  • Causes: Using multiple tools or spreadsheets, lack of integration between systems.

5. Excessive Manual Processes

  • Symptoms: Time-consuming, repetitive tasks, reduced time for high-value activities.
  • Causes: Lack of automation in routine tasks like emails, notifications, and document creation.

Addressing Inefficiencies

1. Improve Pipeline Visibility

  • Solutions:
    • Implement a CRM System: Use a CRM like HubSpot to update deal progress and monitor pipeline data automatically.
    • Invest in Sales Enablement Technology: Tools like MarketingCloudFX can help track sales figures, evaluate weak spots, and make data-driven decisions.
    • Standardise Sales Processes: Ensure consistent tracking and evaluating transactions across the sales team.

2. Balance the Pipeline

  • Solutions:
    • Refine Lead Management: Implement clear lead qualification criteria and lead scoring models to prioritise high-quality leads.
    • Ensure Consistent Follow-Up: Develop a follow-up schedule and use automation tools to maintain consistent communication with leads.
    • Optimise Sales Processes: Regularly review and adjust the sales process to ensure efficiency and balance.

3. Qualify and Clean the Pipeline

  • Solutions:
    • Proper Lead Qualification: Train your team to differentiate between potential clients and actual opportunities. Use lead scoring to assess lead quality.
    • Remove Aged-Out Opportunities: Regularly clean the pipeline by removing deals that have not progressed within a reasonable timeframe.

4. Integrate Processes and Systems

5. Automate Routine Tasks

  • Solutions:
    • Implement Automation: Use AI and no/low-code tools to automate repetitive tasks like emails, notifications, and document creation.
    • Focus on High-Value Activities: Free up time for sales reps to focus on prospecting, qualifying leads, and building customer relationships.

6. Regular Reviews and Continuous Improvement

  • Solutions:

By implementing these strategies, you can effectively identify and address inefficiencies in your sales pipeline, leading to improved sales performance and revenue growth.

Need help with aspects of your pipeline performance? Reach out to our team on the form in the footer to discuss this in more detail.


Published by Digital BIAS June 11, 2024