Sales Pipeline Visibility: Why It Matters + How to Improve It

What Is Sales Pipeline Visibility?

Sales pipeline visibility refers to the clarity and insight a sales organization or sales leader has into their sales process and the health of their pipeline. It involves the tracking and analysis of the deals at various stages of the sales cycle.

This visibility facilitates better sales forecasting, informed coaching opportunities, and effective management of sales opportunities.

Sales pipeline visibility is typically achieved through tracking data in CRM systems, spreadsheets, and sales management tools that offer reporting and analytics capabilities. 

It’s important for an organization to have a single source of truth, ensuring that everyone knows where to check for the most up-to-date and accurate information.

Now, monitoring various stages of the sales pipeline is a crucial aspect of assessing pipeline visibility. 

Here’s a very brief overview of some of the most common stages:

  • Lead Generation: Lead generation involves gathering leads through various channels like marketing campaigns, social media, networking, relevant ads, customized ads, and referrals.
  • Lead Qualification: Lead Qualification involves assessing if the leads fit the target market and have the potential to purchase.
  • Demo or Meeting: Involves showcasing the product or service to the prospect.
  • Proposal: Typically entails presenting a customized offer to the prospective client.
  • Negotiation and Commitment: Involves finalizing deal terms and securing the agreement.
  • Opportunity Won: This is the sales stage where you’re successfully closing deals.
  • Post-Purchase: Entails onboarding customers, providing ongoing support, and upselling/cross-selling.

Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty details of why sales pipeline visibility is crucial.

Why Is Sales Pipeline Visibility Important?

Achieving sales pipeline visibility is the key to forecasting accurately, identifying pipeline bottlenecks, and enhancing overall sales efficiency.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of why sales pipeline visibility is important:

  • Data-Driven Decision-Making and Improved Forecasting: Clear pipeline visibility allows sales teams to make informed decisions and plan strategically based on real-time data, trends, and market dynamics. This ensures a data-driven approach to sales pipeline management.

Additionally, pipeline visibility allows sales teams to use current pipeline data to make accurate predictions about future sales — enhancing forecasting accuracy.

  • Efficient Resource Allocation: Transparent pipeline visibility allows sales teams to manage resources more effectively by focusing efforts where they are needed most, based on a clear understanding of the sales pipeline.
  • Enhanced Sales Performance and Risk Mitigation: Clear pipeline visibility allows sales teams to easily identify high-potential leads, leading to quicker conversions.

Additionally, by closely monitoring the sales pipeline, sales teams can proactively identify and address issues in the sales process or within specific deals — preventing minor issues from becoming major setbacks or end-of-quarter surprises.

  • Increased Accountability: Sales pipeline visibility ensures that each member of the sales team is fully aware of their targets, performance, and adherence to the sales process. This fosters a culture of accountability and continuous improvement.

Sometimes, you may find yourself grappling with limited pipeline visibility, which can lead to issues like inaccurate sales forecasting and lost revenue.

To learn more about sales forecasting, check out some of our related articles:

Now, let’s explore the factors that can lead to this challenging scenario:

4 Factors That Contribute to Poor Pipeline Visibility

Several factors can contribute to poor sales pipeline visibility, including:

  1. Poor Data Quality or Insufficient Data
  2. Lack of Consistent Sales Processes
  3. Lack of Training or Adoption
  4. Ineffective Communication

1. Poor Data Quality or Insufficient Data

Inaccurate or outdated CRM data can skew your understanding of the sales pipeline. Meanwhile, failing to capture key data points along the sales journey can lead to gaps in visibility. 

This issue often stems from sales reps either failing to capture important data during their conversations with prospects or not logging the gathered information into the CRM. This hinders managers and leaders from accurately tracking deal progress.

Consider a scenario where a sales rep prefers using a mix of spreadsheets, documents, and note-taking apps over managing everything in Salesforce for ease of management. 

This creates confusion for managers trying to ascertain the status of a deal (or why a deal has changed over time), as the information isn’t consolidated in one place. 

Although organizations commonly use a combination of spreadsheets and Salesforce, the CRM (Salesforce) should be considered the single source of truth. 

Delays in updating the CRM, or failure to do so, leave management and leadership in a reactive state. They lack the necessary visibility to effectively coach reps or expedite deal movement through the pipeline.

Additionally, a lack of standardized data entry practices can also contribute to poor data quality. When sales reps enter data inconsistently, it becomes difficult to aggregate and analyze it effectively.

2. Lack of Consistent Sales Processes

Inconsistent or poorly defined sales processes make it difficult to track and manage the sales pipeline effectively.

Additionally, tools like Salesforce also contribute to this. They push salespeople to resort to disconnected spreadsheets, note-taking apps, etc.

And when each sales rep follows a distinct sales process, it becomes challenging for the organization to tailor training, enablement, and procedures to enhance deal flow and velocity. 

More critically, this variation in processes creates difficulty in forecasting future revenue accurately since team members work on different timelines.

Additionally, this disjointed approach to sales pipeline management affects data quality and smooth sales functioning.

Keen to learn some rock-solid pipeline management tricks?

Check out one of our related articles on how to master sales pipeline management in 2024.

4. Lack of Training or Adoption

If sales teams are not properly trained or don’t fully adopt the tools and processes (and understand the reasons behind them), pipeline visibility suffers. 

Unfortunately, most sales CRMs like Salesforce aren’t easy to adapt to.

5. Ineffective Communication

Poor communication within the sales team can lead to a disjointed understanding of assignments and deal progressions.

Poor communication also affects how the team interacts with potential customers. For example, miscommunication can lead to mixed messages being sent to prospects, harming your company’s reputation and sales efforts.

So, how do you improve sales pipeline visibility and as a result, enhance your sales team’s efficiency and forecasting accuracy?

7 Rock-Solid Methods to Improve Sales Pipeline Visibility

You can improve sales pipeline visibility through several strategic approaches:

  1. Standardize Sales Processes
  2. Emphasize Data Hygiene & Maintenance
  3. Increase Team Training and Adoption
  4. Improve Communication and Collaboration
  5. Automate Reporting and Monitoring
  6. Regular Review and Adjustment
  7. Create a Deal Desk With Sales Ops Involvement

1. Standardize Sales Processes

Establish clear, consistent sales processes to ensure uniform data collection and tracking across all stages of the sales cycle. With all the reps adopting the same practices, transparency and improvements become far easier to achieve.

2. Emphasize Data Hygiene & Maintenance

To maintain data accuracy and completeness, managers should regularly review the CRM database while ensuring that reps consistently update and clean it.

Also, communicate the significance of the data to your reps. When they grasp how their frontline data impacts the overall health of the business and their personal success and earnings, it drives them to improve.

Access to high-quality data helps them with closing deals successfully — paving the way for promotions and substantial financial rewards.

Tip: Also consider rewards like gift cards, free meals, or dinners to incentivize sales team members to comply with certain data management requests.

3. Increase Team Training and Adoption

Conduct regular training sessions to ensure the sales team understands and effectively uses your chosen CRM and other sales tools. Tailoring training to individual learning styles and proficiency levels of team members can increase effectiveness and adoption rates.

4. Improve Communication and Collaboration

Foster a culture of open communication and collaboration within the sales team to share insights and strategies. Encourage regular pipeline review meetings and the use of collaborative tools to facilitate the sharing of best practices and sales insights.

5. Automate Reporting and Monitoring

Implement automation in reporting and monitoring tasks to reduce manual errors and increase efficiency. Tools like Scratchpad can provide real-time updates and alerts on any key sales activity, enabling the team to respond quickly to changes in the pipeline.

6. Regular Review and Adjustment

Periodically review the sales pipeline processes and strategies to identify areas for improvement, and then make necessary adjustments.

This should include analyzing sales trends, assessing the effectiveness of sales tactics, and adjusting strategies in response to market changes.

7. Create a Deal Desk With Sales Ops Involvement

One powerful way to increase sales pipeline visibility is to create a deal desk — often used to support high-value, complex, or larger-than-usual opportunities.

A deal desk is essentially a cross-functional team involving finance, sales, and operations that work together to manage and negotiate deals collaboratively. But in some organizations, a deal desk can even be managed by a single individual.

The Sales Ops team plays a crucial role in providing analytical insights and operational support to the deal desk. This ensures that deals are aligned with business objectives and market trends, and also increases the likelihood of successful closures.

Chances are that you, like most sales teams, are currently managing your sales pipeline in Salesforce.

If so, then you’ve probably encountered a range of pipeline management challenges while using this tool.

Let’s get into these issues:

Why Salesforce Makes It Hard to Achieve Pipeline Visibility

Here are the reasons why Salesforce complicates pipeline visibility:

  • Complexity and Learning Curve: Salesforce can be complex, which may pose a challenge for new users. The learning curve to effectively use its features to improve pipeline visibility can be steep, requiring significant time and training.
  • Over-Reliance on Manual Data Entry: Pipeline visibility in Salesforce is heavily dependent on the accuracy and timeliness of data entry. If sales representatives don’t consistently update the system, the pipeline data can become inaccurate — leading to poor visibility and decision-making.
  • Customization Requirements: To achieve ideal pipeline visibility in Salesforce, significant customization may be required. This can involve additional time and resources, and possibly the need for Salesforce developers or consultants.
  • Performance Issues with Large Data Sets: With Salesforce, you may experience slower performance or difficulties in generating reports — especially when dealing with very large data sets or complex reporting requirements.
  • Integration Challenges: Integrating Salesforce with other systems (like marketing automation, ERP, or custom apps) for a unified view of the pipeline can sometimes be challenging and may require additional tools or custom integrations.
  • Data Overload: The extensive data and reporting capabilities of Salesforce can sometimes lead to information overload. This is a situation where users find it challenging to extract actionable insights due to the sheer volume of data available.

So, what’s an easy way out then?

The answer is Scratchpad!

How Scratchpad Helps You Achieve Better Pipeline Visibility

Scratchpad is a tool that helps sales teams work together and faster in Salesforce. It makes managing pipelines, inspecting deals, coaching, and forecasting seamless.

Here are the features that make Scratchpad the best tool for achieving clear pipeline visibility:

1. Advanced Grid Views

Advanced Grid Views in Scratchpad are the fastest and easiest way to update any field or object in Salesforce. No more switching between tabs, waiting for pages to load, or having to remember to click save. 

It’s also a great way for sales managers to see all of their team’s deals in one place with the ability to click into specific opportunities for a closer look.

2. Task Management

Scratchpad Tasks offers a centralized platform for reps and managers to track, schedule, arrange, and assign tasks that are needed to move deals through the pipeline.

3. Scratchpad Notes

Scratchpad provides the quickest way to create, update, share, and synchronize sales notes with Salesforce, enhancing efficiency and collaboration in sales management.

4. Workflow Tiles

Scratchpad's Workflow Tiles provide quick access to Salesforce fields and data through customizable shortcuts, streamlining workflows for AEs, Managers, and RevOps personnel. 

It’s also a great way to collaborate when AEs are working with SDRs or SEs on a specific deal, or handing off a closed-won opportunity to an Account Manager so everyone is always on the same page.

5. Team and Deal Collaboration

Scratchpad enhances sales performance by fostering better collaboration within teams. This facilitates improved account planning, smoother handoffs, more effective deal inspections, and efficient one-on-one interactions between reps and managers.

6. Deal Spotlights

Scratchpad’s Deal Spotlights proactively highlight warnings and gaps in your open pipeline — empowering you to identify and address issues and make necessary updates independently, often before they are flagged by your sales manager or operations team.

7. Rollups

Scratchpad automates the rollup process and eliminates the need to use a spreadsheet to keep track of deals. Scratchpad’s Rollups help you track the evolution of each deal at various levels, providing actionable insights into the history of and reasons behind specific changes.

Unlike static spreadsheets, Scratchpad’s roll-ups are dynamic. This means sales forecast figures refresh instantly in real-time as reps update different opportunities.

Also, with just a single click, sales leaders can access every piece of data linked to an opportunity. This capability empowers them to thoroughly analyze and evaluate the quality of the deal with greater precision.

8. Waterfall Analytics

Scratchpad’s Waterfall Analytics offers a simple breakdown of your forecast changes and the reasons behind them. This ensures you have an accurate sales forecast that’s always in sync with your existing pipeline.

Besides visualizing things by forecast category (such as Best Case, Commit, etc.), Scratchpad allows you to view your forecast by sales stage, such as Qualified, Proposal, Negotiation, etc.

This simplifies the process for sales leaders to pinpoint problems and intervene to assist reps with deals that are stalled at certain stages of the sales cycle.

9. Sales Trends Analytics and Daily Snapshots

Scratchpad’s Sales Trends Analytics allows you to spot trends in how the forecast evolved over time. This allows you to compare your current sales data with that from previous months, quarters, or years. 

Included in Trends Analytics are Daily Snapshots, which provide a historical record of daily changes in the pipeline.

10. Scratchpad Command

Scratchpad Command enables reps, managers, and leaders to access and update Salesforce workflows and create records from within their favorite web apps or directly in Salesforce. 

By using simple keyboard shortcuts (CMD+J on Mac or CTRL+J on a Windows device), users can effortlessly search and create opportunities, accounts, contacts, or leads with just one click.

So, how do you get started?

Schedule a demo today to uncover the power of Scratchpad in streamlining and elevating your Salesforce forecasting experience!

4 Important Pipeline Visibility Metrics

Here are some important metrics to track to gain sales pipeline visibility:

  • New Opportunities: This pipeline metric indicates the number of new leads identified and qualified as potential customers over a specific period (week/month/quarter). It indicates the effectiveness of your pipeline generation strategies.
  • Sales Pipeline Velocity: Sales pipeline velocity measures the speed at which opportunities move through the sales pipeline from initial contact to closing. It’s a key indicator of the overall efficiency and effectiveness of any sales activity.
  • Deals by Stage: This metric monitors the number and value of deals at each pipeline stage. This can be vital in understanding if deals are progressing well or if they’re getting stuck at a specific pipeline stage – prompting a sales manager to step in.
  • Pipeline coverage: Compares the total value of all deals in the pipeline to your quota to help you estimate the probability of meeting your targets.

Unlock Crystal-Clear Pipeline Visibility With Scratchpad Now!

Sales pipeline visibility empowers businesses to easily monitor the progress of deals, make informed decisions, and identify areas needing improvement.

But monitoring your pipeline visibility in Salesforce can be daunting. The interface is complex, and you have to deal with manual data entry problems, performance issues with large data sets, and other tons of challenges.

Want to streamline your sales processes and get crystal-clear pipeline visibility?

You need to check out Scratchpad!

Try Scratchpad for free today and discover how it can transform pipeline management in Salesforce.