Table of contents:
- What is a sales pipeline?
- How do sales pipelines work?
- What you’ll need before you start building your pipeline
- What are the stages of your sales pipeline?
- How to create a pipeline for your organisation
- How to measure the quality of a sales pipeline
- What you’ll need to build and maintain a pipeline
- Benefits of sales pipeline automation with Pipedrive CRM & Automaly experts
- Final Thoughts
The sales world is dynamic and continuously evolving — technology, trends, and tactics are never static.
Today, successful salespeople have learned that the key to guaranteed success is to master sales pipelines! Also, it has been found that you need more opportunities in your pipeline to attain your monthly revenue goals. According to a specific survey by HubSpot, 72% of companies with fewer opportunities did not reach their targets.
When sales leaders have a good sales pipeline based on a well-thought sales pipeline template, the business won’t depend on accidental wins. The pipeline will provide valuable insights into all opportunities, bottlenecks, and resource allocation.
In this guide, we will look at the sales pipeline and how to utilise it effectively to increase your revenue.
What is a sales pipeline?
A sales pipeline is a visual way of seeing all your sales opportunities. It reveals prospective buyers as they move through the different stages of the buyer journey and the activities involved in each stage.
Such a sales pipeline makes it easy for you to track the people who have expressed interest in your product or service, and their progress through the sales process. Ultimately, it lets you know if you successfully convert them into customers.
How do sales pipelines work?
A sales pipeline is often confused with a sales funnel. While the two are related, there are differences in how they work.
From the sales pipeline definitions above, you can see that a sales pipeline displays where your prospects are in the sales process. A sales funnel on the other hand reveals the conversion rate as people go through the sales process. It indicates how many prospects enter or exit each stage.
In a CRM, a sales pipeline is often visualized as Kanban boards to give the sales team a quick overview of what deals are coming up. In a typical sales pipeline, you can see which sales reps are working on which opportunities, who the prospects are, how much time has to be spent on them, and how likely it is that they will become customers.
At the top of each sales pipeline stage, you can see how much revenue your sales pipeline is expected to generate based on the value of the opportunities in that stage.
What you’ll need before you start building your pipeline
While it is true that you can adopt a sales pipeline template for your organisation, the best is a sales pipeline that is custom-designed for your operations, with the template as a starting point for structure and reference.
Here is what you will need to start building your own sales pipeline.
A list of prospective buyers
The first thing you need to build a sales pipeline is a list of potential customers. Your sales pipeline buyer list should include names, contact information, whether or not they are a decision maker at work, and their pain points and challenges.
Your sales process
Once you have a list of prospects, it’s time to determine how to best market your products and services. This includes how often you will contact your customers, what kind of lead generation tools will be used, and who will be involved in the process from start to finish.
Your sales target
Remember that any sales pipeline is supposed to help you meet your sales goals. You should therefore define these goals/targets ahead of time. Your sales/revenue target will help you determine the number of deals you need to add to your pipeline to achieve your target.
Team members buy-in
As a sales leader, for your sales pipeline to be effective, everyone on your team has to be carried along in its creation process. So whether you are looking to use a spreadsheet-based sales pipeline template or invest in a CRM, ask your sales reps for opinions. These are the people that will use this tool.
What are the stages of your sales pipeline?
Sales pipelines differ by organisation and offerings. However, a typical sales pipeline includes the following seven stages:
1. Prospecting / Lead generation
This sales pipeline stage is where you cultivate the interest of potential customers. An important first step in this stage is creating your buyer persona. You can then try to reach people that fit that profile using paid and non-paid campaigns.
This is all about ensuring you are working with the right person to make a sale. This sales pipeline stage involves researching the prospect’s willingness, authority, and financial ability to buy from you.
Initiating contact with a prospect is when you get in touch with them for the first time. At this stage, your sales pipeline has started to narrow as you have filtered out leads that are not going anywhere.
4. Schedule demo
This sales pipeline stage can be as simple as taking someone out for coffee, where they get to see how your product works in real-life situations, or it can be as complex as having them attend an entire instructional workshop.
The next sales pipeline stage is the negotiation stage. This is where you’ll come up with acceptable terms and conditions to both parties and submit your proposal.
6. Closing the sale
You’re all agreed on terms when you arrive at this sales pipeline stage. This is where you close the deal!
The post-purchase sales pipeline stage means ensuring that you deliver a customer experience that results in repeat business. This is very important because it costs 5 times more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one.