“Always be closing.”

That’s the first rule of sales, at least according to the sales trainer in “Glengarry Glen Ross.” But it’s tough to close sales if you don’t have any leads in your pipeline.

A visual analytics solution can help by showing you exactly what your pipeline looks like—in real time.

Review and Understand Pipeline Health

With a robust visual analytics solution, you can use real-time data from your CRM system to quickly create and share data visualizations. It takes just a few minutes to get a clear view of the opportunity status of your entire pipeline, from early scoping to proposal. And you can take a look at your overall pipeline, or drill down to see the pipeline for each sales rep.

Pipeline status

This data visualization illustrates exactly how sales reps are progressing with their opportunities. A healthy pipeline contains a broad mix of opportunity statuses. Of course, it’s great if the reps have lots of proposals out for review, but if they don’t have opportunities in the early scoping phases in their pipelines as well, that could mean a sales slowdown is headed your way. And if the pipelines are stocked with qualified opportunities but nothing has reached the proposal stage, those reps had better spend time practicing their closing pitches.

Sales Pipeline Breakdown by Location

When reviewing your overall pipeline health, be sure you’re looking at not just the number of opportunities, but also the value of those opportunities. Let’s say the number of opportunities in your pipeline has decreased over the past several months but your win rate remains strong. As long as the opportunities that remain in your pipeline represent some larger deals, you should still be able to meet sales goals. To put it another way, if your pipeline is stocked with $7 million in opportunities and your win rate is 27 percent, you’re likely to meet a sales goal of $1.5 million—even if the relative number of opportunities has declined.

Being able to see at a glance exactly what your pipeline looks like gives you the information you need to assess pipeline health, manage opportunities, and shepherd deals toward conclusion.

Identify Pipeline Trends Over Time

By charting out pipeline activity over a set period of time, you can identify trends and better understand your customers’ buying behaviors.

Sales Pipeline Breakdown

Perhaps you see a big spike in closed sales at the start of the year, when new budgets take effect. If your sales cycle generally lasts 42 days, that’s an indication that you need to ramp up activity early in the third quarter in order to give decision-makers plenty of time to add your product or service to the budget before it’s finalized for the upcoming year.

Looking back at your pipeline history also gives context to your current pipeline. By comparing last year’s pipeline to this year’s, for example, you can see if your pipeline is growing at an appropriate rate to keep pace with your sales goals.

Visualize Your Data to Realize Your Sales Goals

Visualizing your pipeline gives you vital information about the entire sales process and can even be used to provide insight into the overall health of your organization.

By embedding a visual analytics solution directly into your existing sales processes or CRM system, the data you need will always be at your fingertips, as opposed to locked away in a separate business intelligence tool or in a database that only IT can access. When the data is readily available to everyone, you can quickly slice and dice it to extract information that will keep your sales team on track.

At iCharts, we’ve developed pre-built interactive dashboards that have been proven to improve overall revenue and assist in managing the performance of your sales team. Ourv customers can access these dashboards as a standalone product or as an integration within NetSuite or Salesforce.

And be sure to check out our visual analytics solution for sales departments and learn why everything is better with visuals.