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  • Sarah Frazier

Sales pipeline advice for Q4 success

Whether it’s Q4 or any other time, effective sales pipeline management is about understanding the timing, the process, and making a plan for success.

Q4 is here already— can you believe it?  

Though 2021 has been a whirlwind, Q3 was a slower sales period for many organizations. With the US opening up from COVID restrictions and lockdowns, B2B professionals couldn’t wait to get out or take time off. In fact, according to a study by Expedia, 82% of Americans planned to take an extra week of vacation this year. So if your sales team is weary from the out-of-office autoresponders and you find yourself focusing even more on sales pipeline management, you’re not alone.

Because pipelines and meeting quotas are such hot topics, we invited industry thought leaders, Kyle Parrish from VP of Sales at Mixmax, Kirsten Liranzo, VP of Sales at Dialpad, and Chris Schreiber, Head of Marketing at Qwilr to discuss tips for effective sales pipeline management, maximizing opportunities, and closing the winnable deals.

Listen in as they share strategic insights:

Sales pipeline management – inside perspectives

During our discussion, we asked attendees about their confidence in reaching their Q4 goals. The majority responded with a fair degree of optimism, with 63% feeling confident or somewhat confident in meeting their quota. While a smaller percentage felt uncertain about their ability to hit their goal, no one was completely lacking confidence in their outlook.

Taking the pipeline confidence question a step further, we then asked our sales management audience the areas their sales teams struggle the most. The top answer was prospecting, with 58% citing keeping the pipeline full was a challenge.

“Prospecting is always difficult,” noted Kirsten, “as it’s the thing that salespeople always put off and don’t prioritize. When there’s so much else you need to be doing in your sales cycle, prospecting is (unfortunately) often the activity that falls off,” she continued. “It’s absolutely essential that sales leaders stay on top of their reps and help them prioritize their time.”

Our panelists all agreed that prospecting and time go hand-in-hand, and the process needs to adapt according to the environment or situation that you’re in.

“There are phases to sales pipeline management,” explained Kyle. “You start to build your pipeline, and as deals close, that pipeline naturally decreases while revenue is going up. What you really want to do is keep prospecting activity high at all times as well as closing activity. You never want to be in a prospecting only cycle or a closing only cycle, and one of the reasons why we close our books on a monthly basis at Mixmax,” he went on to explain. “The goal is to continually be prospecting while moving those prospects through the sales cycle so that you’re not always prospecting at the beginning of the month and closing at the end. Seek to minimize those cycles as much as you can.”

B2B sales pipeline statistics

No organization is immune to pipeline challenges or missed quotas. According to HubSpot data, our attendee responses mirror B2B sales at large:

  • 40% of salespeople say prospecting is the most challenging part of sales
  • 36% are challenged by closing a deal
  • 72% of companies with fewer than 50 opportunities per month, did not achieve revenue goals

Additionally, Gartner research cites that on average, it takes 18 dials for an SDR to connect with a prospect, and stresses the importance of those touches being both personal and relevant. 

And if the job of sales isn’t hard enough, according to Forrester Sales Productivity data, sales reps are juggling a variety of other tasks, and as much as 28% of their time is spent on non-selling activities.

In short: it’s no wonder pipelines are suffering. Prospecting is time-consuming and sales reps often have too much on their plates. Enter the significance of strong sales leadership,  essential to pipeline management success.

“The single most underutilized resource in any company is the sales leader.”

Suze Andrew, CEO at stark associates

Actionable advice for sales leaders

As we close out 2021, where should sales leaders direct their attention, and what’s most important for sales success?

“The key to closing out the year strong is focus. Focus on what you need to do for this quarter; manage time properly so reps have the capability to do what’s most important for them. Remove manual tasks from their plate, let them focus on what you’re paying them to do, which is sell,” advised Kyle.

Kirsten agreed, adding, “there’s always a bit of Q4 magic. Both buyers and sellers will sense the urgency and make it happen. I also recommend developing mutual action plans or outlines with your buyer to make sure you have clear requirements by stage and sales deliverables to get that contract signed. Additionally, disqualify pipeline that isn’t active, which also helps bring focus and intensity to the opportunities remaining.”

Finally, “don’t forget empathy,” added Chris. “Hone your messaging so you can help your prospect finish the year strong, too.”

Whether it’s Q4 or any other time, effective sales pipeline management is about understanding the timing, the process, and making a plan for success. Words of wisdom for closing 2021 on a positive note and positioning your brand for a successful 2022.

We invite you to listen in to this insightful discussion in its entirety, then take the next step. Maximize your sales team’s time and efforts with sales proposals that grab attention and convert buyers. Book a 15-minute Qwilr demo to learn more.

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