Top 3 B2B Technical Sales Pipeline Management Tips
If you’re new to technical sales, it’s important to know that one of the most crucial factors in this field is the technical sales pipeline. How well you manage your pipeline can spell success or failure. A technical sales engineer should always make sure that his sales pipeline is full by constantly working on bringing in new leads and prospects. You need to put in the work to make sure that your pipeline is full.
Here are our top 3 tips on how to effectively manage your B2B technical sales pipeline:
1. Never Assume
A common mistake technical sales engineers make is to assume, such as to assume that a sale is final, assume that all his pending deals will be closed, or assume that his pipeline is full enough. These are all costly assumptions that can cause problems later on.
Oftentimes, a technical sales engineer assumes that a deal is closed when the potential customer expresses a lot of interest and assures the sales engineer that the deal is done. Maybe they’ve met a number of times and have revised a few details in the proposal as well as finalized costs and schedules. In this situation, it’s easy to imagine that this deal is well on its way to closing.
However, in technical sales, do not assume a deal is done until there is a signed contract. There are a number of events that can happen before a contract is signed. Maybe a higher-up in the client’s company chose a competitor at the last minute. Maybe the company decided to forego the launch of a new product for now and your deal was supposed to supply the materials for that new product. There are many unforeseen events that can happen in technical sales.
If you assume that a deal will push through and it doesn’t, you’ll be deeply disappointed. More than that, it will affect your sales pipeline. Sometimes, when a technical sales engineer assumes that a sale is sure, he stops working on keeping his pipeline full. When this happens and a deal doesn’t push through, you’ll end up with an empty pipeline. You need to make sure that you’re always working on keeping your sales pipeline full so if a deal falls through, it doesn’t matter so much.
2. Always Move Forward
Related to the first tip, you also need to constantly move forward and look to the future. A technical sales engineer should never rest on his laurels, even after closing a big sale. If you want to be a successful technical sales engineer, you should never be complacent. Moving forward and pushing ahead means you should always work on keeping your pipeline full.
Remember, closing a deal in technical sales can be a long and complicated process. There is no guarantee if and when a sale will be closed. It can take weeks, months, or even years. Technical sales engineers need to keep this in mind and just continue to work on more leads and prospects.
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Once you have those skills and habits in place, you won’t be as affected when things don’t go as planned, such as a particular sale not pushing through. That’s because you’ll have a full pipeline, so you’ll have other deals and prospects to work on and think about.
3. Target Everyone
In technical sales, you can classify prospects as “Whales, Sharks, and Fish”. As their name suggests, whales are big accounts with the highest potential for large sales. Sharks are medium-sized accounts and fishes are the smallest among the three.
Some technical sales engineers prefer to go on “whale hunts” and focus only on whales. Yes, if you close a sale with a whale, you might meet your monthly quota with just one deal. However, you shouldn’t just focus on going after whales only.
Closing a deal with a whale doesn’t always happen in technical sales and if it does, it usually takes a longer time to close. What will you do while waiting and working on that one whale? What if you are just waiting for this big sale to close and something unforeseen happens and it doesn’t push through? You’ll have to start filling up your pipeline again.
You should target everyone. Have a good mix of whales, sharks, and fish in your pipeline is important, as long as they are all qualified prospects. Even if five smaller sales equal one big sale, it’s still worth it. It might take five more months, for example, to close that one big sale. Bigger accounts usually mean more gatekeepers and decision makers to get through.
This doesn’t mean you should avoid whales. This just means that you need to go after all kinds of accounts, big and small. Keep yourself busy filling up your sales pipeline. Then go through the sales process with all of your prospects. Set meetings, send proposals, and follow up until you get to the closing phase. Sharks and fishes usually take less time and effort to close compared to huge accounts.
To Sum It Up
Remember, don’t celebrate until a contract is signed. Anything can happen, so don’t think you’ve closed a deal until that signed contract is in your hand. In the meantime, work hard and go after all qualified leads. Technical sales is a numbers game. The more prospects you work on, the higher chance you have of closing a sale. Manage your pipeline well and you’ll soon be on your way to success.
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