Why Your Pipeline Might Be Drying Up and What To Do About It

By Lissie Peach
Sales Manager
Jul 19 2023 read

Knowledge Exchange is a weekly series of educational articles that we encourage you to share and discuss with your colleagues and network. This month, we’re offering advice for successfully selling your services.

Being great at sales requires a unique set of gifts. But if you’ve been focusing on improving your sales skills, you may be neglecting the origin of each sale: your pipeline.

Here, we’ll discuss the biggest mistake SMBs make in managing their sales pipelines and how to bulk yours up so it can be a steady source of new business.

The Most Common Problem With Pipeline Management

A leaky or insufficient pipeline is often caused by a lack of awareness around how large it needs to be. Many business owners and sales leaders underestimate the number of opportunities they have to have to meet their revenue goals.


The rule of 3

To avoid pipeline underestimation, you need to maintain a pipeline that’s 3X the number of sales you aim to achieve. This accounts for the natural mid-sale attrition rate, which can be over 80% depending on your industry.


TIP: Look at the current size of your pipeline. Compare it to your quarterly revenue goal and determine whether the rule of three checks out. If not, it’s time to ramp up your prospecting efforts and generate more qualified leads.

Understand How Your Sales Process Drives Close Rates

To maintain a healthy pipeline, you need to first examine how you sell. Each stage of the sales process should act as a milestone in the buyer’s journey, propelling the deal from initial contact to close. By identifying and analyzing your stages, you may discover that they need to be fleshed out or better defined.

Close rates are a key indicator of how well your sales flow from one stage to another — and where they might be dropping off. Knowing where you stand helps you assess the effectiveness of incremental change and forecast future revenue more accurately. Plus, understanding which stages have higher or lower close rates makes it easier to wisely allocate resources and pinpoint bottlenecks.

TIP: Take the time to analyze your sales data and calculate conversion rates at each stage. Use these to create benchmarks, set realistic goals and develop strategies to improve. One effective strategy is to apply the power of trigger automations in Accelo.

Grow Your Pipeline With a Defined Process

A well-defined sales process highlights the steps you need to take to move a prospect through the pipeline. It’s a roadmap to consistently won deals.

To define your process, follow these four steps:

  1. Analyze your target market and develop your ideal customer profile (ICP). Even if you’ve done this before, it’s crucial to do so from the sales perspective. Are you bringing in the right kind of marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) so they are easily converted into sales-qualified leads (SQLs)? If you find you’re losing a lot of people between marketing and sales, you may need to clarify your ICP.
  2. Lay out your current sales stages. You could choose to start with the stages you’d like to create instead — perhaps the four mentioned in the previous section — if you haven’t yet determined your own stages. Make sure you have a method for tracking each lead’s stage, or custom status.
  3. Map out the specific touchpoints and actions that move your prospects from one stage to the next. This is where you get to see how your team’s actions interact with the potential buyer’s intent and desires. Use the alignment with sales stage progression to inspire your sales training. Where your team or process is weak is where you may need to fill in with resources. 
  4. Set goals to provide your team with a visible target. Whether it’s a given number of prospects or a percentage of conversions from one stage to the next, these hard numbers are important. Don’t be afraid if your overestimate at first. You’ll be able to refine your goals as you gather more pipeline data going forward.

TIP: Find a tried-and-true sales methodology that aligns with your business values and goals. Even if you don’t have a dedicated sales team, it’s important to create systems around this vital stage of your prospect relationships.

Knowing you’re going after your true ICP, understanding your sales process, accurately assessing the size of your pipeline and setting clear goals will keep your pipeline full and fresh. Develop a data-driven approach using the actionable tips above, and you’ll contribute to a steady stream of revenue growth.

Think your colleagues would find this article valuable? Head over to LinkedIn to share and discuss.


About the Author


Lissie Peach is the Sales Manager at Accelo. She strategically hires, coaches and develops our team of Account Executives. Lissie has spent the last three years working as both an individual contributor and a sales leader, giving her a unique perspective on our clients, product and internal team.

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