Picture this. Your quarterly revenue goal steadily approaches, yet your forecast keeps fluctuating. Some reps predict massive deals, while others warn of delays. You question if the goals were too ambitious. If only achieving sales pipeline visibility was as easy as peering into a crystal ball.
But accurately predicting revenue requires more than magical visions—it demands clear visibility into your sales pipeline backed by hard data. When management has limited visibility into pending deals and sales activities, forecasting becomes guesswork.
This article will demystify how to achieve true visibility across your sales pipeline. We’ll explore what pipeline visibility entails, its immense benefits, and actionable tips to improve it.
What is a sales pipeline visibility?
Let’s first define a sales pipeline. The sales pipeline refers to all potential revenue or sales opportunities at various stages of the sales process, from initial contact to closed deals. It represents a visual map of all deals in motion.
Sales pipeline visibility means having an accurate, real-time view of all opportunities and deals progressing through the sales process. This clear overview allows you to analyze pending revenue, gain insights into performance, and predict future outcomes.
But how is this visibility achieved? It requires capturing rich deal data across all customer touchpoints and sales activities. This means tracking every call, email, proposal, deal update, and more throughout the entire sales journey.
With comprehensive visibility into deal progress, context, and meaningful sales activities, you can assess pipeline health, monitor performance, and plan strategically. Pipeline visibility powers reliable revenue forecasts.
It provides clarity into:
- The number and value of current opportunities by stage.
- Which deals are progressing or stalled?
- Expected deal close dates and predicted revenue.
- Historical trends and seasonality patterns.
- Individual and team performance and productivity.
So, then what’s the difference between sales pipeline and sales forecast?
Sales pipeline vs sales forecast
While the sales pipeline shows the current deal status, the sales forecast estimates future revenue based on pipeline analysis and historical performance. Forecasting relies on pipeline visibility.
Forecasting relies heavily on pipeline visibility and analysis. By assessing factors like:
- The number and value of deals by stage
- Stage-specific close rates based on past performance
- The rate deals are progressing through the sales process
- Common sales cycles for each product or service
Pipeline visibility enables more accurate revenue forecasting by providing insights into current opportunities that inform the predictions.
For instance, seeing a 20% drop in new pipeline additions compared to the historical average could prompt downward forecast adjustments. Identifying deals stuck in later approval stages may warrant tweaking close rate assumptions.
Without clear visibility into the pipeline, forecasting revenue becomes an uncertain guessing game instead of an informed prediction. Every sales forecasting methodology relies on pipeline inspection and analysis.
In summary, the sales pipeline provides visibility into current deals, while the sales forecast leverages that visibility to predict future revenue performance. Robust pipeline visibility powers accurate, reliable revenue forecasts.
Check out our previous blog on top sales forecasting methods to learn more about sales forecasting.
Sales pipeline metrics that enhance visibility
While pipelines house a wealth of valuable data, simply compiling every detail together does not automatically create meaningful visibility. Metrics distill pipelines down to their most critical components.
Here are some of the key pipeline metrics that can enhance visibility:
Sales productivity metrics - Sales productivity metrics evaluate how efficiently reps utilize time and effort. Examples are calls made, emails sent, sales cycle length, and activities completed. They help optimize processes.
Sales efficiency metrics - Sales efficiency metrics assess how successfully activities convert into wins. Examples are win rate, lead conversion rate, and pipeline conversion rate. They guide improving conversion.
Sales analytics metrics - Analytics metrics uncover trends, patterns, and insights through pipeline and forecast analysis. Examples are pipeline velocity, pipeline health, and forecast accuracy.
Sales activity metrics - Activity metrics quantify the volume of sales tasks completed such as calls, emails, demos, and proposals. They help set activity goals.
Sales management metrics - Management metrics provide insights into team performance, operations, and strategy. Examples are quota attainment, win rates by rep, and sales training ROI.
Revenue operations metrics - RevOps metrics track the health of revenue-focused systems, technologies, and operations. Examples are customer lifetime value, customer acquisition cost, and recurring revenue churn rate.
Benefits of strong pipeline visibility
Pipeline visibility is pivotal for predictable revenue and sales success. Below are the benefits of clear visibility:
- Forecast accurately: Reliable forecasts require a complete view of the deals in motion. Visibility enables accurate opportunity-based predictive modeling rather than vague guesses.
- Identify blockages: Visibility into metrics like pipeline velocity highlights stages where deals are stalling. This allows you to pinpoint and address obstacles impeding deals.
- Assess performance: Comparing individuals and teams on metrics like win ratios, pipeline value, and velocity enables performance benchmarking and coaching.
- Optimize processes: Identifying high-velocity stages or win patterns allows you to refine processes and invest in what works.
- Allocate resources: Focusing reps, content, and other resources around segments demonstrating results maximizes ROI.
How to improve sales pipeline visibility?
Gaining clear visibility across your sales pipeline requires bringing together the right tools, data, disciplines, and processes. Here are 10 tips for attaining greater pipeline clarity and insight:
1. Use a CRM to capture deal data
Leveraging a centralized CRM like Salesforce or HubSpot provides a “source of truth” for pipeline data. Think of it like a master spreadsheet capturing all deal details from lead to close.
Robust CRMs allow granular tracking of information like owner, stage, probability, expected value, competitor status, notes, tasks, activities, and more. This consolidated data is invaluable for understanding deal context, tracking progression, spotting trends, and powering analytics.
But beware of clunky or complex CRMs. We’ve seen adoption challenges because reps find manual entry and updating painful. Solutions like Luru provide frictionless CRM access and updating directly into platforms teams already use daily like Slack or Teams.
2. Track key pipeline metrics
While raw pipeline data provides value, distilling key performance metrics is essential for enhanced visibility. It’s like checking a patient’s vital signs. Tracking metrics like total pipeline value, velocity rates, win/loss ratios, and stage duration gives clear insight into the health, progression, and potential of your pipeline.
Displaying these KPIs on digestible dashboards makes assessing and sharing pipeline performance simple. Consistently monitoring key metrics is crucial.
3. Classify leads with a scoring system
Categorizing leads is like a triage nurse classifying patients by urgency. Lead scoring systems assess and tag leads based on attributes like profile, behaviors, and engagement.
Automatic scoring using factors like email opens, content downloads, and site visits can instantly identify hot, sales-ready prospects versus cold leads. This helps sales teams precisely target follow-ups to the most promising leads first.
Implementing a consistent, automated scoring process provides immense visibility into true lead quality and priority. It enables focusing energy where it's most impactful.
4. Document deal progress and update regularly
Maintaining accurate pipeline data requires keeping every deal record up-to-date with each meaningful sales interaction. However, enforcing comprehensive manual deal updates across all customer touchpoints is extremely difficult.
At Luru, we saw sales reps lacked time and context to manually log all activities. Our platform addresses this by automatically capturing interactions in Slack and instantly updating CRM. Think of it like a digital assistant taking notes and filing them in the right client folders for you. This automation eases the process and improves data accuracy.
5. Integrate systems for a complete overview
Linking your CRM to surrounding sales tools like email, calendar, and engagement platforms provides complete visibility into all prospect touchpoints. It’s like weaving multiple camera feeds into a security control room.
Activity syncing eliminates manual logging across systems, while workflow automation aligns previously siloed platforms into efficient revenue engines. End-to-end integration fills visibility gaps.
Luru provides quick connectors to sync popular sales tools, bringing them together through seamless workflows. This gives you a unified visibility source.
6. Build reports and dashboards to monitor the pipeline
Transforming raw pipeline data into insightful reports and dashboards enables real-time business monitoring. Think of it like having a surveillance room.
Reports can compile projections, benchmarks, metrics, trends, and stage analysis tailored to any business need. Automated scheduling and distribution ensure personnel get fresh pipeline visibility consistently without hours of manual analysis.
Luru lets users generate automated CRM reports delivered to their chat apps in real-time or pre-defined schedules. Now teams get fresh pipeline reports and insights consistently without draining hours.
7. Tag or categorize deals to analyze trends
Tagging deals is like organizing a crowded closet. Categorizing opportunities by parameters like product, region, industry, or revenue size allows segmenting data for targeted analysis.
Assessing pipeline subsets provides razor-sharp visibility into what’s resonating across different products, geographies, customer sizes, and channels.
These insights enable shifting resources and strategies toward your top-performing segments for amplification. It’s like investing in more inventory of the clothing styles and seeing heavy demand from customers.
8. Look at historical pipeline trends
Reviewing historical pipeline patterns is like consulting the weather records before a major storm. Historical perspective improves forecast models and uncovers seasonal fluctuations or cycles.
Comparing the current pipeline shape to the past allows accounting for recurring effects like annual budget freezes or seasonal slowdowns in projections. The contextual lens of history enhances visibility.
9. Share pipeline data across teams
Enabling company-wide access to pipeline dashboards fosters alignment, like a weather service issuing a public alert. With shared visibility into pipeline health and projections, teams can collaborate to remove blockers, adjust strategies, and plan intelligently.
A unified view ensures everyone has the insights needed to contribute, much like residents receiving the same storm warning information.
10. Clean your data regularly
Implementing consistent data hygiene practices ensures visibility integrity remains high, like routinely changing the oil in a car. Automated validation rules can identify missing or contradictory data, while enrichment appends missing fields.
Proactive data cleansing, completion, and validation create trust in pipeline insights, similar to how routine maintenance creates trust in a vehicle’s performance.
Following these best practices will help you gain a precise pulse on your pipeline’s dynamics and harness visibility for success. But to fully empower your teams, optimize processes with the insights next.
Optimizing your sales processes
With clear visibility into your pipeline’s intricacies, you can fine-tune processes to accelerate profitable growth. Here are 4 ways to optimize using pipeline visibility:
- Standardize a process across teams including defined qualification criteria to progress deals and expected timelines for each stage.
- Review pipeline health in weekly sales meetings to identify stuck deals early and adjust strategies.
- Define stage-specific nurturing like sending pricing proposals once technical needs are qualified or addressing budget concerns after an evaluation.
- Monitor lead velocity through scoring and if low, assess if brand awareness activities should be enhanced.
Manage your pipeline with total visibility with Luru
With clear sales pipeline visibility, fluctuating forecasts and revenue surprises become relics of the past. You gain the vision needed to strategically plan, hit goals, and accelerate growth quarter after quarter. The power to predict and grow revenue lies in achieving pipeline clarity.
Luru provides the tools to gain complete visibility across your pipeline. Our seamless CRM integrations bring deal data directly into platforms your team already uses daily. This drives adoption while capturing every customer interaction. Workflow automations align systems and keep data synchronized in real time without manual effort.
See for yourself how Luru provides unmatched visibility into your sales pipeline to confidently predict and achieve revenue goals. Request a demo today.
- What is a good sales pipeline?
A healthy sales pipeline has enough opportunities at each stage to fuel predictable revenue attainment. It should have clear qualification criteria for advancing between stages, defined conversion rates, and consistent velocity.
- What does the sales pipeline show?
The sales pipeline provides a snapshot of all open sales opportunities. It segments deals by stage, showing the quantity, value, and progression rate of opportunities in the sales process. Pipeline analysis shows predicted revenue, performance benchmarks, and process optimization areas.
- What is a KPI in sales pipeline management?
A KPI (key performance indicator) is a quantifiable metric used to track and assess the performance of a business process. In sales pipeline management, KPIs provide visibility into the health, progression, and revenue potential of the pipeline.
- What are some important sales pipeline metrics to track?
Critical pipeline metrics to monitor include total pipeline value, velocity or progression rate through stages, win/loss ratios by stage, and average time spent in each stage. These provide visibility into revenue potential, deal health, performance, and process optimization areas.
- How can pipeline value help forecast revenue?
Total pipeline value sums up the potential value of all deals. Analyzing historical conversion rates by stage helps estimate how much pipeline value will likely convert to closed revenue. Comparing total value to goals shows if sufficient opportunities exist to meet targets.
- Why is tracking pipeline velocity important?
Pipeline velocity measures how quickly deals progress through sales stages to closure. Consistent or accelerating velocity indicates a healthy pipeline. Slowing velocity warns of potential bottlenecks to address. Checking velocity by stage highlights problem areas.