Sales are the heartbeat of the world’s economy!
The importance of sales in the day-to-day activities of all humans on earth cannot be overemphasized. Sales help the world’s economy implement all the various resources found in different places on earth and the distribution of values.
There are various ways or methods by which sales have been carried out worldwide. They include; solution selling, value selling, spin selling, challenger selling, etc.
Sales primarily involve sellers and buyers with or without intermediaries, including sales reps, sales team, marketing team, distributors, etc. They all work together collectively using various strategies for lead generation, lead nurturing, marketing campaigns, and post-sales customer relationship management. As a result, the potential buyer becomes a paying customer, making that profit at closing the sales process.
There are so many things to know about sales. This article will explain all you need to know about the sales pipeline, its importance to your business, how you can build and implement it, and how to manage your sales pipeline. All significant mistakes to avoid when building your sales pipelines.
What is the sales pipeline?
A sales pipeline refers to the diagrammatical presentation of the stages within a sales process that a prospective buyer passes through in their buying journey. It shows the position of all the selected prospects in the sales process so that sales teams can conveniently forecast revenue and the percentage of retained customers at the end of the sales process.
A sales pipeline will help your business identify potential sales opportunities and how your existing customers interact with your product or service.
Creating a visible sales pipeline for your business based on a good review of customers’ collected statistics will help your business to develop better sales and marketing strategies that drive sales, retain customers and groom your business.
Importance of sales pipeline
- The sales pipeline helps your business to forecast anticipated revenue
- The sales pipeline shows the effectiveness of your business sales reps
- The sales pipeline allows you to score your business qualified sales leads
- It helps your business to increase the productivity of its sales teams
- The sales pipeline made it easier for your company to carry out effective post-sale follow-ups
- The sales pipeline shows the level of success in each stage of your business sales cycle
What are the Sales Pipeline Stages?
Buyers’ journeys are composed of various steps they took to become a paying customers. Those steps may not be identical for each prospective buyer, but they all have some things in common.
Sales pipeline stages are the series of identical steps a prospect takes on their journey to become a paying customer. Some prospective might spend a short time in each stage, while others might require a longer interval.
The sales pipeline stages will help business managers see the big picture and assist sales and marketing teams be more productive.
A typical sales pipeline stages include; lead generation, lead nurturing, lead qualification, commitment, negotiation stage, value proposition, closed deals, and post-sales customer retention. These are the seven essential stages that must be included in a sales pipeline.
7 sales pipeline stages
1. Lead generation stage
This is the first step where prospective customers make initial contact with your product or service, where they become aware of its existence and its ability to solve their problem or pain point.
Leads can be generated through google search, video advertisement, public relations, email marketing, bulk SMS, etc. The marketing team does lead generation to attract some specified targeted audiences within a region, niche, or country.
2. Lead nurturing
The lead nurturing stage is where sales reps try to move the leads further by contacting the leads and building relationships. This can be done through cold email, messages, and cold calls.
Sales reps use various methods and incentives to attract prospective buyers and increase or gauge their interest in the product or services.
This stage is critical within a sales pipeline because if prospective buyers are not properly nurtured, they might lose interest in your product/service or buy from your competitors.
3. Lead qualification stage
Lead qualification is an essential step toward a higher lead conversion rate.
This stage is all about getting one-on-one contact with the prospective buyer; it can be virtually or physically. The contact can be through phone calls, webchat, live demos, or physical meetings.
The sales activities carried out in this stage vary from business to business because it depends on your company’s sales processes and your potential customer’s preference. For example, some people may prefer physical meetings or phone calls, while others may choose video calls over webchat.
For a productive sales performance, your company must provide as many means of contact as possible concerning your prospective customer preference.
Regardless of the medium of communication, this is the stage where sales reps explain in detail all the prospect needs to know about your product/service. This is where you take your time to explain all their questions and objectives and clear their doubts.
4. Value proposition
After the initial contact with the prospect, sales reps should be able to know and understand the prospect’s pain points and how to offer a favorable solution.
The value proposition is a stage where products and services have been offered to a prospect in the form of solutions to their pain point and or requirements.
A demo may be scheduled at this stage to give prospects valuable insight into what they are about to purchase and how helpful the product or service will be to them. All these are done to ensure that the prospect is convinced enough to move to the following stages of a sales pipeline.
5. Commitment and Negotiation
At this sales stages, a prospect is fully interested in your product/services and is willing to buy, provided that all other factors that affect sales are under control.
Before a successful sales journey can be completed, other determinant factors must be considered— price, terms, conditions, customer support services, etc. Prospects tend to consider these factors before making a purchase and closing the deal.
It is the duty of sales reps or sales managers to ensure that each prospect at this stage within the sale pipeline is given an audience to negotiate prices, request customer support, and review terms and conditions.
This is where the buyer and seller reach a solid agreement on price, payment method, and when/and how to deliver the product or service.
Once both parties have reached a favorable agreement, the proposal can be submitted for approval.
6. Close Deals
The specified product or service is exchanged for money or other valuable entities. It is almost the final stage of the sales pipeline, and the success or failure of the deal is brought to light.
Although some buyers might not be ready to pay at this stage, such leads will be set aside for further nurturing.
7. Post-Purchase/Customer Retention
The closing deal is not the end of the sales process. The sales manager should ensure that customers are satisfied enough to introduce your product or services to their family, friends, and business associate.
Post-sales outreaches should be done frequently to check how customers are enjoying your product/service and to remind them of your willingness to help them if they encounter any problem while using the product. In addition, you can encourage prospects to refer your product/services to other people by backing up your offer with mouthwatering incentives.
It is also an avenue for sales reps to monitor customers and build a thriving customer relationship by providing them with updated info about your product/services and how you can serve them better.
How to build a sales pipeline for your business?
Building a sales pipeline is crucial for any sales manager interested in creating an efficient journey and closing more deals.
A well-defined sales pipeline provides a more transparent review of the entire sales process, including the different steps taken by sellers to attract potential customers/ new leads, sales pitching, closing deals, and the actions are taken to follow up on customers.
A well-optimized sales pipeline will assist your business in forecasting revenue, planning effective marketing, and helping your sales team to relate with customers conveniently.
Building a promising sales pipeline is essential, but do you know how to make it for your business? Continue reading! You will find out soon. Learn how B2B sales cycle stages work.
1. Have a Good offer
The first step toward building an effective sales pipeline is to have a great offer that can attract prospects. Your offer should be of great value, problem-solving, and good quality. Offers can be in the form of a product or service; whichever form ensure that it can attract your targeted potential customer.
2. Build a well-defined sales cycle
Your sales cycle should be a subset of your sales pipeline. However, you will need all the elements within your sales cycles to build an effective sales pipeline.
The sales cycle involves all the steps taken within a sales process to close a deal, which generally includes; lead generation, prospecting, preparation, sales pitch, closing deals, and follow-up.
These key stages should be defined to suit the nature of your business, taking into consideration your customers’ decision-making processes.
The sales process cycle will provide you with insight into all the necessary steps and patterns that must be taken to close a deal with a particular set of prospects. Reviewing those steps with your sales and marketing teams will help you adjust some stages when needed overtime to understand better how your sales pipeline works and how to make it better.
3. Identify and target your ideal audience
Sales managers and sales reps should be target-driven!
The sales pipeline should reflect your ability to identify the audience likely to be interested in your product/service and make marketing qualified lead accordingly.
Various sales pipeline stages should indicate the number of targeted audiences and the number of leads needed to reach out to that audience. This will help the marketing teams know who, when, and how to reach out to your ideal customers without wasting all the resources used for other product sales activities.
Identifying ideal customers will help your team reach out to the right audience, spend quality time in each sales stage, and evaluate conversion rate. Ability to assess conversion rate will automatically make it easier to adjust each stage within the sales pipeline when the need arises.
4. Follow up on each lead within the sales process
Your sales pipeline should reflect all the stages of each lead within the sales cycle length.
This will make it easier for sales leaders and sales reps to monitor prospects individually. It will also help your team focus on sales-qualified leads and effective customer relationships.
At this sale pipeline stage, determine how you can demonstrate your ability to solve your prospect’s problem through demos, outreaches, and inbound leads.
This will help to move prospects through the sales pipeline, monitor them, and advance to more crucial stages where you can close deals.
5. Fill in the gap in your sales pipeline
Plan all the activities within your sales cycle to ensure that leads have been moved to the next stage consistently.
Adopt the use of sales pipeline metrics and sales CRM tools that will make the whole process much more accessible, convenient, and faster
Sloovi outreach is a sales CRM software tool that can help your sales efforts manage hot deals, build a strong relationship with your prospect, and win more deals. With sloovi outreach, building, managing, and monitoring the sales pipeline has been simplified.
Sales pipeline management
Sales pipeline management monitors lead across the various sales cycle stages until the leads are finally closed.
Various sales pipeline management software is used to assist sales reps and managers in conveniently view the progress within the sales cycle and managing customer relationships.
The software focuses on improving your sales process by helping your business maintain a thriving pipeline stage that flows with valuable leads in a shorter sales cycle.
Sloovi outreach for sales pipeline Management
Sloovi outreach is an end-to-end sales engagement platform where you can effortlessly create your own sales pipeline, upload bulky leads, keep track of the data associated and prioritize leads based on your available parameters.
The platform will help you streamline your workflow, manage your sales activities, give you in-depth insight into your sales process, and help you achieve your sales targets.
The core values of sloovi outreach
You can upload/import leads to the platform, view all imported leads, and keep track of data associated.
The smart view option helps you filter leads based on your desired parameters. It can also prioritize leads such as sales qualified lead based on your necessity so that you can focus on them specially.
The platform can be used for engagement, which means you can view and reply to all leads and create templates for auto-responses.
You can automate cold email campaigns to reach out to a wide range of prospects, which will help you to increase the number of meetings set up on your sales journey.
You can consistently stay in touch with your prospect by sending follow-up emails using cold outreach. You can also create custom sequences for each campaign.
After each campaign, you can measure its success with key metrics, such as; open rate, bounce rate, and response rate.
Reporting helps the sales and marketing manager keeps track of all sales activities and measures the performance of each sales rep.
Leaderboard helps you measure the individual performance of your sales team and build healthy relationships within your team.
Sales pipeline management
With pipeline management, you can keep track of the sales opportunities created and forecast revenue.
It helps you monitor leads at different stages within the pipeline and identify leads that are about to be closed.
In conclusion, sloovi outreach is all-in-one management and CRM tool that will help you scale your sales pipeline. You can opt-in for a free trial or demo to check it out!
Mistakes to avoid when building a sales pipeline
1. Advertise the value of your product/service.
Please don’t assume that prospects will purchase your product because they are of great value, make an effort to attract more candidates through relevant advertisement. This will create more awareness for your product and service, ensuring that more productive leads have been generated.
2. Identify your ideal customers
It is good to generate a lead, but it is better to generate productive leads. So when you identify your ideal customer, their age range, where they are likely to hang out, the type of social media platforms they use, their pain point, etc., this parameter will assist you in setting up effective ad campaigns that will generate productive leads.
3. Analyze and measure your success
It is easier to assume, but the assumption is an enemy of progress. Don’t assume that you have a well-defined and good sales pipeline without measuring the success of each stage within the pipeline. By measuring each stage, you will know the stage that needs adjustment, proper monitoring and focus on other essential sales activities rather than waste time/resources on less productive activities.
4. Prioritize follow-up and post purchase customer retention
As much as you generate more leads, endeavor to maintain a healthy relationship with your customers. Although your customers are already aware of the value of your product, maintaining a relationship with them will encourage them to refer your product to their associate.
The differences between sales pipeline and sales funnel.
The sales pipeline is a diagrammatical presentation of the different stages in the sales process, from lead generation to the point where the deal is closed.
On the other hand, the sales funnel focuses on the buyer’s journey and the different steps taken by the buyer in the process of purchasing a product or service. It involves nurturing leads and creating the right touchpoint to guide potential customers through their purchasing journey and eventually buy the product in the long run.