You’re already using a sales pipeline, whether you realise it or not. You’re a pro, congratulations.
You don’t have to be a professional salesperson to build a sales pipeline. Almost every sale, whether consciously or unconsciously, corresponds to a sales pipeline. Because sales pipelines naturally adhere to whatever sales methods and processes you’ve already developed, this is the case. They’re also really simple to construct.
Although it is not recommended, you can study a very fortunate sale and make changes to your sales pipeline and processes to make future sales more like it.
What they don’t tell you is this:
Sales pipelines are always evolving, and it’s impossible to get it right the first time. It’s more like crafting a recipe when it comes to creating a sales process. Every time you use it, you can see what works and what doesn’t, and you can fine-tune it over time.
It is science, not math.
What exactly is a sales pipeline?
In its most basic form, a sales pipeline is the sequence of steps that a prospect takes on their way to becoming a customer. Stages are flexible categories that indicate how the prospect should be interacted with in a sales pipeline.
A sales process is the method you and your salespeople connect with prospects depending on pipeline stages.
Be aware that sales pipelines and sales funnels are frequently misunderstood. A sales funnel is fundamentally different from an operational standpoint.
Sales pipelines differ from company to company, and even from product to product, and are intended to help determine which path a prospect should take to become a customer. It’s also simple to examine a sales pipeline and decide which phases require more refinement based on how quickly prospects convert between stages.
For example, if approximately 25% of prospects go to the following level, but only 10% make it through the pitching stage, it could indicate that your pitch needs improvement or that other issues aren’t being addressed adequately prior to this stage.
To recap, the sales pipeline is made up of phases, and the sales process is made up of actions that correspond to each stage of the pipeline.
Stages of a typical sales pipeline
Although no two sales pipelines are alike, many of them are similar. Here’s a simple illustration of how the most successful sales pipelines are built:
The qualification step is when you, your firm, your salespeople, and other stakeholders determine whether a prospect is a good fit for your product or service. “Hiya pal, can I interest you in a fountain pen?” used to be the standard greeting in the days before CRMs.
It’s a little more subtle these days, but the qualification stage saves you time because pitching your product or service to someone who isn’t interested can only harm you in the long run.
This stage became primarily virtual after 2020. The purpose of the meeting is for the prospect to have a close, personal look at what your product, service, or offer is all about. This may usually be achieved via a Zoom meeting or phone conversation.
Video demos and webinars are very useful at this step in the sales funnel. Pre-recorded videos are a wonderful method to gather all of the questions that a prospect often asks and answer them upfront in a productive way, especially for internet businesses and b2b sales models.
The pitching stage is where you present your solution if (and only if) a prospect is a good fit. The goal is to generate some curiosity, and your sales process should be carefully designed to do this.
Remember, this is a two-way dialogue with the prospect, so ask them to express their questions and complaints so you can learn how to better serve them. And, if you’re attempting something new, their input will immediately influence your sales process, ensuring that your pitch improves for future prospects.
The closing pipeline step is where the final agreement is reached. Any last-minute questions should be addressed by you or your sales team, and the prospect will be sent a contract or bill to sign.
The difference between a sales pipeline and a sales process
Although they are frequently used interchangeably, there is a significant difference:
- A prospect’s journey through a sales pipeline is divided into stages.
- Each level of the sales process has its own set of actions.
- Each stage of the sales pipeline calls for its own set of sales process steps.
Remember that your prospect progresses through the pipeline while you progress through the sales process. The method functions as a tactical playbook of sales techniques that aid in moving prospects through the pipeline more quickly.
Creating your own pipeline from the ground up
Unfortunately, a sales pipeline isn’t something you can set and forget. When your salespeople connect with prospects, they gather vital information about optimizations that may be made to improve the prospect experience in the future. Sales pipelines are improving all the time.
Creating a sales pipeline begins with understanding how your company’s average buyer’s journey works. Is there a formal qualification process in place? Do you have pre-recorded videos in your meeting phase? Is it necessary to customise each sales pitch? Your sales pipeline will be determined by the answers to all of these questions.
Choosing the appropriate stages
Every sales pipeline has its own set of processes that differ from one organisation to the next. The stages, on the other hand, are usually the same and depict the client growing awareness, and interest, and then engaging with the brand before making a purchase choice.
The buyer’s journey in a typical transaction includes the following critical decision phases, which are reflected in the pipeline:
- Unconcerned – The prospect has no idea what your organisation does.
- Investigating – The buyer is studying options after becoming aware of the potential problem.
- Defining – The prospect is laying out their decision criteria and method for dealing with the problems your organisation solves.
- Selecting – The buyer is analysing the options that have been shortlisted.
- Negotiating – The buyer is trying to get the best deal possible.
- Approving – The decision-makers are formally approving the solution.
Working backwards: What are your sales responsibilities?
Because each stage of your sales process correlates to a pipeline stage, you can quickly build a pipeline from the tasks and activities that your sales team finds successful. For instance:
Activities for qualification include:
- Cold calling
- Emailing strangers
- Responding to contact forms
The following are examples of meeting activities:
- Having a Zoom meeting
- Creating a tailored pitch
- Making contact with stakeholders through the phone
- Sending sales videos that have been pre-recorded
Activities for pitching include:
- Following up with a phone call
- Organizing a demo for the stakeholders that is suited to their requirements
- Having a discussion about completing the transaction
Closing festivities include the following:
- Submitting a proposal
- Any final discussions
- Getting a contract signed
Your sales pipeline in your CRM,
You can use almost any CRM, but RisePath CRM makes creating sales pipelines a breeze.
RisePath CRM will let you build unique pipelines to meet your company’s sales needs, with each pipeline stage representing a distinct point in your prospect’s journey.
Not only is a CRM useful for building a sales pipeline, but most CRMs also allow you to automate the tedious tasks so you can focus on what matters most: completing more offers.
Even better, the user-friendly interface of a CRM allows you to keep track of the entire sales pipeline and observe which phases require attention, how the corresponding processes may be improved, and so on. This applies to team communication, as well as determining which reps excel at specific duties. There are numerous advantages to adopting a CRM.
If this is your first time learning about sales pipelines, don’t hesitate to contact RisePath‘s support staff for assistance.