From building a sales pipeline from scratch to constantly improving it—here’s what you need to know.
Sales is integral to a company’s success. After all, it dictates how your business offering reaches and convinces your target audience. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, companies with a defined sales process earned 18% more revenue than companies with none. What’s more? Companies that used three sales pipeline tools efficiently had a 28% higher revenue growth! Building and maintaining a sales pipeline can make a huge difference to your business growth. Here’s how you can navigate it:
But first, what is a sales pipeline?
A sales pipeline is a tool that displays and tracks a company’s sales process throughout the various stages. It is a visual representation of where a buyer is on their sales journey with your business. Through this, salespeople are able to see how the company’s money is being spent and where they need to put in more effort. A clearly defined sales pipeline helps you design future marketing campaigns and products or services that fit your end users’ needs.
Sidenote: A sales pipeline and a sales funnel are not the same, contrary to popular belief. While a pipeline tracks the process, the funnel measures how many of your buyers go from one stage to another, also known as the conversion rates.
How do you build a sales pipeline?
Here’s our five-step process:
- Identify your ideal customer profile
Are you catering to other businesses or general customers? Will you be catering to a certain demographic or region? Prepare your responses to these questions, as they are the foundation to your sales process.
- Find partner companies
How will you reach your target audience? You might consider partnering with other companies, depending on what your offering is. Find target companies that might need your offering or could help you promote it. Get that company on board.
- Do your research
Once you have decided on your target audience and companies, gather information about them. What are their preferences, buying habits and needs? What does it take to convince them to use your product or service? This will help you determine the next stage.
- Decide your stages
This is the most crucial part of building a sales pipeline. Make a note of the stages you want in the pipeline. A typical pipeline would have these stages: new opportunity, discovery (or learning more about the opportunity), proposal creation, negotiation, follow-up, closing, analysis of the process.
- Keep updating your pipeline
To avoid chaos on the pipeline, make sure to keep moving (figuratively) a prospective client across the stages of your pipeline. This also helps senior management track your progress and avoids clutter. Additionally, if you realize that you need to add a new stage for optimum results, do so.
How do you maintain a sales pipeline?
- Follow up with the leads
A lead is someone who isn’t a client yet, but may become one soon. When it comes to managing your sales pipeline, don’t underestimate the importance of following up with your leads or clients. Sometimes, your prospective client might get stuck in one stage of the pipeline. Keep track of where your clients are and make sure they keep moving forward. By following up, you urge them to take action, helping you successfully navigate the sales pipeline.
- Drop the dead leads
While you should follow up with and push the promising leads ahead, you must also know when it’s time to drop the dead leads. Don’t let the pipeline get flooded with prospects that are going nowhere. If you feel a client is not showing any interest, let them go and move on to a new one.
- Keep an eye on your metrics
So you are executing the sales pipeline to perfection; that’s great. However, to know if it is really working, track metrics such as the number of deals closed, the close ratio (number of deals closed compared to deals sent), the deal size and more.
- Enhance each stage of the pipeline
At each stage of the pipeline, make sure your client has adequate information. The best way to know if you are giving them enough content is by asking them. What would make this process simpler for them? What information do they really want? In what format would they like this information to be? For instance, your client might want a PDF explaining what your service does. Make sure you add it to the pipeline.
If you want to boost your revenue and make your client’s purchasing journey a breeze, give due attention to the sales pipeline.
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