Why Dropping Dead Leads Is Vital for Effective Pipeline Management

February 22, 2021
sales pipeline management
shutterstock

Dropping dead leads — it’s a vital part of the sales pipeline process but frequently gets overlooked when dealing with other active, high-value leads.

But sales experts say that knowing how to quickly identify and drop a dead lead is essential to effective pipeline management. 

“There is a fine line between closing an opportunity too soon and holding on to it too long,” SecureLink Account Executive Tricia Witte said. 

Joe Barbano, a sales manager at Brightpearl, added that opportunities that stall out and linger at a certain stage are some of the biggest contributors to an unhealthy pipeline. 

To gain some insight into the strategies they implement to keep a healthy sales pipeline, Built In Austin checked in with Witte and Barbano. Here’s what they had to say. 

 

Tricia Witte
Account Executive

Witte, an account executive at SecureLink, a remote access software company, said that her best piece of advice for monitoring the pipeline and keeping it clean is “brushing twice a day.” Brushing the sales pipeline — once in the morning and once at the end of the work day — ensures all of the data is up to date and the blindspots are covered. 

 

What’s the single most important best practice you follow when it comes to pipeline management? 

Be loyal to the future, not just the past. Pipeline management can mean many things to different people. Know your critical next step, big or small, to move that deal one step forward and make sure to document it. Sure, it’s important to document the past but it’s more important to know what needs to happen next. Document the next tangible step and the date it should happen (e.g. redlines on NDA due back to the customer on February 17). This allows you to effectively manage that next step as it approaches and it lets your leadership know that you are thinking ahead.
 

Knowing when it’s time to close out a lost opportunity is key in effective pipeline management.”


What’s one improvement you’ve made to your pipeline processes over time?

Let it go. As I have gained experience in my sales career, I have gained awareness of how easy it is to waste time on dead opportunities. Knowing when it’s time to close out a lost opportunity is key in effective pipeline management. There is a fine line between closing an opportunity too soon and holding on to it too long. If a prospect is not engaging with you or isn’t willing to share use case details after rapport is built, consider why. If focusing your efforts on other opportunities could yield more success, close it out! 

 

What’s a best practice you follow for monitoring your sales pipeline over time and keeping it clean and up to date?

Just as we should brush our teeth twice a day, we should be “brushing” our pipeline twice a day. We’re moving a mile a minute and opportunities change rapidly. Documenting my plan in the morning and the changes that happened before I log off in the evening ensures that I know where my blindspots could be. 

The other benefit is that the data I roll up to my leadership is accurate at any point in time, which saves me time and energy because they can trust the data is accurate without having to come directly to me.

 

Joe Barbano
Sales Manager

Barbano, a sales manager at Brightpearl, a retail operations platform, said that taking rigorous notes has been beneficial for keeping his sales pipeline clean and up to date. By doing so, he’s able to have clear and defined goals for each call and ensure he’s effectively moving deals through the pipeline. 

 

What’s the single most important best practice you follow when it comes to pipeline management? 

The simplest and most important best practice to follow when it comes to managing one’s pipeline is always having an actionable next step defined for each opportunity to move the deal down the funnel or out of the pipeline. I am a huge believer in defining your pipeline in terms of a funnel, whereby you should continuously have opportunities moving through the stages of the funnel (e.g. “discovery” to “initial demo” to “additional demo” to “proposal” to “contract signed”). 

Every deal should have a definitive next step, where the goal of that next step is to move the deal into the next stage of the pipeline or qualify the deal out. Unhealthy sales pipelines are usually defined by opportunities that stall out and linger at a certain stage of the deal cycle, where there is no actionable next step to move it to the next stage or qualify it out.

 

What’s one improvement you’ve made to your pipeline processes over time?

One key improvement I made early on in my tenure with Brightpearl was to make sure to schedule a “proposal review” session with my prospects after sending them our contract/proposal and giving them a chance to read through it. Before implementing this standard meeting at the end of a sales cycle, I would send out contracts to clients without any actionable item other than hoping they’d sign by a certain date. This date would often get missed because they had questions or didn’t execute the contract in time. 

By proactively scheduling a proposal review session, the prospect is obligated to read the contract and consolidate questions before that meeting. It also gives me a chance as the account executive to qualify what else needs to happen in order for them to sign the contract. This allowed me to more accurately forecast new business as well as close deals quicker.
 

Unhealthy sales pipelines are usually defined by opportunities that stall out and linger at a certain stage of the deal cycle.”

 

What’s a best practice you follow for monitoring your sales pipeline over time and keeping it clean and up to date?

Rigorous note-taking. The healthiest pipelines are those with lots of opportunities to work but that, of course, makes it difficult to keep everything organized. I try to make sure that every conversation I have is documented in our CRM and I have actionable next steps and strategies in place for future conversations. By taking rigorous notes, I am able to have defined goals for each sales call and can prepare beforehand to ensure I’m moving deals through the pipeline.

Jobs from companies in this blog17 open jobs
All Jobs
Dev + Engineer
Operations
Product
Project Mgmt
Sales
Content
Sales
new
SecureLink
Austin
Operations
new
SecureLink
Austin
Sales
new
Brightpearl
Austin
Project Mgmt
new
Brightpearl
Austin
Operations
new
Brightpearl
Austin
Developer
new
SecureLink
Austin
Sales
new
SecureLink
Austin
Content
new
SecureLink
Austin
Sales
new
SecureLink
Austin
Product
new
Brightpearl
Austin
Sales
new
SecureLink
Austin
Project Mgmt
new
Brightpearl
Austin
Project Mgmt
new
Brightpearl
Austin
Developer
new
SecureLink
Austin
Developer
new
SecureLink
Austin
Developer
new
SecureLink
Austin
Operations
new
Brightpearl
Austin

Austin startup guides

LOCAL GUIDE
Best Companies to Work for in Austin
LOCAL GUIDE
Coolest Tech Offices in Austin
LOCAL GUIDE
Best Perks at Austin Tech Companies
LOCAL GUIDE
Women in Austin Tech