Salespeople are often reluctant to commit the opportunities they are working on to their forecast, for fear of being held accountable for something that they can't be sure will close.
In all my time as a Sales leader, it's been a constant hassle to get a clear view of the actual Sales pipeline from the sales team.
I can sympathise though, as reporting back to the rest of the business on the forecast for the month, quarter or year can feel like you are measuring out the rope with which you may be invited to hang yourself with later.
It's therefore important to be clear about WHY you have to report the Sales pipeline in the first place.
If your business needs to grow, then the quality of your Sales pipeline is critical.
Why the Sales pipeline is critical, is because it is the fuel gauge that gives you the confidence to drive investment and support for your growth.
Get these four words front and centre with your Sales team:
Scalable, Predictable Revenue Growth.
Let's look at predictability first. How far out can you predict your sales revenue with any degree of accuracy? Not as far as you'd like? Now think about the things that hang on the sales performance. What resources does your business need to deliver your product or service? How are they planned for? How can your business make decisions on how to best serve it's customers if the revenue is unpredictable? Too little revenue, and the whole operation is at risk. Too much revenue can overstretch resources and lead to a drop in quality, and loss of hard-won business.
Then we get into Scalability. Growth means scaling up more than just the revenue number. Whether that's more customers, or selling more to the same people, when revenue goes up, the capacity to deliver on it needs to be invested in too.
Attempting to grow a business that is unpredictable and difficult to scale is extremely hard work.
So why do you need a good quality Sales pipeline?
Because you need scalable, predictable revenue growth.
Below is an old post from HubSpot's Mark Roberge - that eventually led to his book 'The Sales Acceleration Formula'. Showing how HubSpot used this same mantra to go from 0 to $100m.
We’ve worked hard at HubSpot to create a culture of rigorous self-analysis and review. It can be too easy, even when a company is successful, to assume that whatever you’re doing is working, and it’s best not to meddle with it. We meddle constantly. We are forever poking at the numbers, prodding the data to tell us more: What’s working, why it’s working, and how we can do better to build a better company.