Update date : 19 Oct 2021 | 5 Min Read
A sales pipeline is something that's common for any size or industry. It could either be a small business looking to grow its customer base or an enterprise looking to expand its business. A substantial sales pipeline is the foundation on which the salespersons identify, build, and maintain their leads. It's a visual representation and an indication of the number of your prospects and their current stage in the sales process.
To ensure no surprises or unknown challenges, sales pipelines act as a crucial indicator that shows the amount of business you can expect to get in a specific duration. It gives the sales team an estimate of the deals that could be closed in a period. Consequently, it paves the path for growth planning and revenue forecasting that helps in preparing for future events.
Prospects, hot leads, cold leads, warm leads, filling your pipeline – all these terms are pretty standard in the sales circles. A sales pipeline is a lot more than that. It’s an essential sales tool for any operation that comes under sales management, bringing about a considerable difference to the bottom line. The sales team can visualize their entire sales process – right from the stage of your leads, where they have taken a halt, and the sales activities generating maximum revenues.
It makes the team accountable, which eventually makes achieving goals easier by dividing the tasks that are easy to track. Without a sales pipeline in place, your organization could be going nowhere. It lacks a guiding light that gives you deeper insights into the effectiveness of your sales process.
If your organization still doesn't have a sales pipeline in place, you would definitely want to read this article. It consists of a step-by-step process to build a sales pipeline from scratch.
Before building a sales pipeline, it's essential to map out the stages it would go through. Your first step starts with initial ideas about your prospect's companies and people you think might be interested in purchasing from you.
Your ideas for marketing your products and services could be many. And some of them would reach the bottom line and might close, but others might stall or never close. Hence, the sales stages are the number of steps you would need from the inception of an idea to a closed deal. These sales stages could be:
It's also crucial to remember that these stages must be in sync with the purchasing stages of your prospects. Each cycle is different, and you can tweak these stages accordingly. Nevertheless, analysing your sales pipeline report would definitely help in getting a good estimate of where your processes lie.
A pipeline is essentially your roadmap to a successful closure. Hence, it's important to have all the key information in place. And this includes not only the information about your prospects but also your team, revenue targets, meetings schedules, and product/service.
The people whom you think might buy or are interested in your services are your prospects. The details should include everything from names, contacts, company, designation, and how they know about you. If you are already in touch with them, you can also assign a stage that you can adjust to in the future.
The sales process is exactly how it sounds – a process that defines all the activities required for your sales team to close a lead. A good sales process would mean that you are constantly winning the leads. It would also mean your sales team can track all your leads accurately, selling the services in an organized manner, predicting the revenue estimates, and of course, integrating a powerful marketing strategy.
The biggest goal of a sale is achieving revenue targets. Mapping out your revenue targets will enable you to answer an important question – the number of deals you need to add to achieve your objectives. If you can estimate the number of conversions, calculating the number of deals in the early stages becomes easier.
Prospect classification is probably the most important step because you have to find the right set of people for what you're selling. It is crucial because you wouldn't want your sales team wasting their time and efforts on the people who are not interested. Hence, for better conversion, you need to sort out your cold and hot leads. You can do this by researching or having a conversation with your leads. The questions you would need answers for would include – the budget of your prospect, their decision-making power, need for your service, and readiness to purchase.
If the answer to all the questions is a positive/firm yes, it's a hot lead. On the contrary, if the answers are in negatives, they are cold leads. However, you would have to do more research to determine if the leads have truly gone cold. The sales representative should seek to solve the objections a prospect might face and try to solve them if possible.
A steady stream of selling opportunities is the only way that a business can grow. And a sale opportunity is a qualified lead with a specific criterion. Companies tend to fill their pipelines with several prospects without finding the right set of customers. This also ends up in a poor lead-to-conversion rate. Hence, it is incredibly essential to pay attention to leads' behaviors when they move from one stage to another. The things that could trigger certain behaviors would be watching a video, requesting a demo, or downloading a report.
Traek is a powerful visitor tracking software that enables small businesses to track their visitors with its real-time chat feature. It allows talking to a visitor and when he/she visits your website. Moreover, you can segment, add filters, and extract meaningful information of key people of the company, their addresses, and contacts.
A sales pipeline of an organization can benefit from such software by evaluating your current sales process. Segmenting enables identifying the highest revenue-generating channels. And most importantly, it can let you figure out if you are talking to the right people. Further, you can take a second look at the most successful deals and map out a fresh strategy using the newly found data.
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