Working through your sales backlog

In business, there’s nothing more frustrating than a missed sales opportunity.

During the lockdown, many businesses either had to shut down or had to adapt to a new way of working. In many cases, this has resulted in a backlog of work and sales.

A backlog of sales can be a positive thing, as it shows a high level of customer demand as well as future financial stability. However, if you can’t work through the backlog in a reasonable time, then you’ll start missing out on opportunities and potentially tarnish your company’s reputation.


How to effectively work through your sales backlog


1) Update your sales pipeline

Before you start anything – is your pipeline and work priority list up-to-date?

It doesn’t matter if it’s on a project management software like HubSpot, an excel spreadsheet, a whiteboard or a scrap of paper, take the time to outline everything. Without this, you won’t be able to assign priorities.

In the long-term, this information should be put into a more robust system so it can become a process. However, on a short-term basis, the important thing is to understand the scope of the task at hand.

If you don’t have a process-driven sales pipeline, read our The importance of a sales pipeline article to learn more about the tremendous impact having one will have on your business.

Top tip: Don’t be tempted to tackle any project until the list is complete- even if, as part of the process you write something down you just remembered you should have done, keep going until the list is done.


2) Manage workload

Once you’ve updated your sales pipeline, your objective is to prioritise.

An increase in backlog orders doesn’t mean you should focus all your energy on them and forget the day-to-day work or new sales opportunities. New leads are essential, they’re warm and, depending on the age of your backlog list, may need less ‘effort’ to convert.

Remember, a sales backlog isn’t always a bad thing. By regularly communicating with clients, you’ll be able to manage expectations, giving you time to work through both new and old leads methodically – more on this to follow.

Set out a plan to manage your workload effectively and assign priorities to both new and old projects. An alternative is to spend a proportion of your day exclusively working through your backlog.


3) Manage expectations

Continually communicating with clients and prospects is one of the essential keys to business success.

If you’re working through a backlog of orders, let your prospects know. Using your priority list, let them know when you’ll meet their need – and make sure you do. In having the conversation you may discover they’re no longer interested, they were after something more, or they’re happy to wait longer because they’re going on holiday.

Likewise, if it’s a new prospect and you can’t meet with them straight away, let them know and set their expectations.

This stage is vitally important. Yet, it cannot be achieved without a plan. If you can’t deliver on your word, your company reputation may suffer. However, managing expectations effectively can help to increase loyalty and boost your company’s reputation.


If you need help managing your sales backlog, or in creating a sales pipeline, please get in touch.

If you’re new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.