Most of us have a general sense of what a pipeline is. Reality TV shows recruit a pipeline of contestants to choose from, athletes maintain a pipeline of schools they would like to attend and play ball at, and some have oil flowing through them and get shut down (whoops, I promised to not get political)... But one of the most common places this term is used is in sales.
The sales pipeline refers to the various stages a prospective customer passes through as they go from prospect to signed customer. It varies from organization to organization based on things like sales methodology, general sales motions, product/service complexities, and other items such as individual processes and preferences. In the traditional sales world, and the world of an Account Executive, this is well studied, tested, and discussed.
One area not studied, tested, and discussed much is the concept of a technical pipeline. Don’t get me wrong - technical pipelines have existed for years, even decades. It is simply that the presales role lives in the shadows and outside of most sales systems and processes. As a result, it’s a black box and an enigma to most sales leadership and C-level executives at companies.
Why has this not changed and why is it so important in today’s business climate?
Well, for two reasons:
1- With technology evolving so rapidly, presales is becoming a component of every deal. Presales individuals, those armed with both business and technical skills, are imperative to handling this new normal.
2- Second, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to remote work, presales organizations have exposed a number of inefficiencies. Presales management was left with even less visibility into what and how their teams were managing technical pipelines.
So, back to our main question. What exactly is a technical pipeline? A technical pipeline consists of the opportunities assigned to presales engineers, along with the various tasks, deliverables, and other important data associated with each opportunity. In some organizations, this data lives inside the CRM with other pipeline data. In others, it does not. And in surprisingly frequent cases, it’s not even documented and tracked.
So why should we care about technical pipelines and what benefits can we achieve if we do? Below is a list of ways to manage it along with benefits from doing so:
Provides presales individuals with a quick, easy view of their assignments and tasks.
Leadership gains greater visibility into deal statuses and can more easily determine appropriate guidance or next steps.
Expands “technical validation” stages in most sales operation systems.
Standardizes and improves posture around these stages, for example, it defines clear stage requirements and exit criteria in terms presales professionals understand.
Opens doors for better data points to be fed into KPIs and metrics.
These metrics help validate stages and tasks and justifies the time spent on each by leading to better outcomes.
Establishes a foundation for better utilization and capacity management.
Gives a holistic view to monitor technical sales motion at an appropriate pace.
At Prelio we believe a technical pipeline is the foundation of an excellent presales team. Join us in learning more about Presales and our mission to elevate and empower presales professionals.