By Kristy L. Gusick, Partner One of the best ways you can get better results from your business development efforts is to create a system to organize and track your sales efforts. This is commonly referred to as a ‘sales pipeline’. As defined by “Base” an online sales management pipeline tool, a sales pipeline is a visual framework that illustrates the amount of business you are trying to win over a defined period of time. Developing a business development tracking process – or sales pipeline – can help you spend less money and time on marketing and ultimately bring more business in the door. Here are four BIG reasons to consider using a sales pipeline system. 1. Helps you track results A sales pipeline system helps you to objectively analyze your marketing and sales efforts. By documenting your sales opportunities – and where they came from – you can learn more about where your marketing and sales efforts are producing the best results. It will also help you determine your average ‘time to close’ (from market attraction through sales close). Along with that, you can learn more about what type of prospect typically closes in the least amount of time and with the least amount of effort. This will enable you to better define – and ultimately target your ideal prospect in your future marketing and sales efforts. Finally, by tracking your sales opportunities consistently over time you can begin to predict future revenue. Ideally you should always have three times the amount of potential sales in your pipeline as you would like to close in the future. 2. Keeps you focused Tracking your new business opportunities is important because it will keep you focused on the prospects you currently have ‘out there’. Often when you are selling a high-level service, you have longer sales cycle because it may take your prospects a while to trust you enough to decide engage your services. During that time period, we can sometime lose track of where the prospect is on our process. By documenting your sales process in a pipeline system, you will always know what your top opportunities are – and what your next step is with those opportunities. An established sales system will keep you organized and ‘on-task’ and consistently moving forward with your new business efforts. 3. Keeps you accountable It is hard to measure your own performance, learn from your mistakes and take action if you do not have accountability partner, mentor or coach to inspire you keep moving forward. An outside party can encourage you during setbacks and plateaus or when you experience a lack of motivation, helping you look past any momentary failure to see the bigger goal. 4. Keeps you motivated Most of the professionals we work with are ‘seller/doers’ which means they are charged with finding new business and performing the work for those new clients as well. Many of us sometimes get consumed with our client work so much that we allow our new business development efforts fall by the wayside. Having a sales pipeline system – and an accountability partner/coach – not only helps us stay focused but it also allows us to celebrate our successes and ‘debrief’ our failures. This process keeps you enthused and motivated by knowing that you have opportunities ‘out there’, that you are continuously moving them through your ‘predefined’ sales process and that you are learning as you go. It also shows you where you are with your prospects and what action you can be taking to close more business and ultimately grow your practice. So, go for it! Establish a sales process. Track your progress. Know your numbers. Be accountable. And get started. Here are some excellent, low cost online CRMs and sales tracking programs are Base, Pipeline Deals and Highrise HQ to help you get started. You can also use a simple Excel spreadsheet as well. Watch our Free Webinar on How to Organize and Track your Sales Opportunities.