Sales pipeline management precisely manages leads and their transition through the different stages of the sales process. If your team struggles with this, you are likely missing out on potential sales growth.
To create an effective sales pipeline, you must always be willing to make changes and adapt. Managing that pipeline requires constant dedication.
With this blog, you will learn what a sales pipeline is, the benefits of improving your pipeline management, and specific steps you can take to make your pipeline management more effective.
- There are six fundamental stages in many sales pipelines: lead generation, lead scoring, and relationship building.
- With sales pipeline management, your sales team will gain valuable data to help forecast future sales.
- CRM software is critical to improving the effectiveness of your sales pipeline.
What Is a Sales Pipeline?
A sales pipeline is a visual breakdown of your sales process into distinct steps. A good sales pipeline will help the sales team understand what needs to happen next based on where customers are in the pipeline. Many sales teams use digital tools to help visually arrange leads and prospects based on their location in the sales pipeline. This helps you quickly see which customers to prioritize and what steps to take next.
A sales pipeline is different from a sales funnel. A sales funnel follows the customer journey through the sales process, while a sales pipeline focuses on the sales team. It clearly defines the steps your team should take when trying to close a sale. In addition, the traditional model of a sales funnel implies that leads will drop off at every stage of the sales process. A sales pipeline aims to keep as many leads as possible past the qualification stage.
Stages of a Sales Pipeline
While each business is unique, many sales teams have similar stages in their sales pipelines. Here are six of the fundamental stages that you will see in most sales pipelines:
- Lead generation or prospecting: Creating a list of potential customers that fit at least some of the criteria of your targeted customer base.
- Lead scoring or qualification: In this step, you decide which leads are the most likely to complete a purchase. You pursue the most qualified leads first.
- Contacting: Reaching out to qualified leads to learn about their business needs.
- Relationship building: When the lead has expressed an interest in your products or services, you work on building the relationship with demonstrations, meetings, and continual communication.
- Negotiation: With the lead leaning towards purchasing, you enter the negotiation stage. You work through pricing, conditions, contract length, etc.
- Closing: In this stage, you record the outcome of the deal. You may win the contract, lose the contract, or the prospect is not yet ready to buy. In this case, place them in the “nurture” category and return to them later.
Benefits of Improving Your Pipeline Management
Continually monitoring and improving your pipeline management is critical to your sales success. You should see impressive results with a clearly defined process and proper training for your sales team.
Some benefits of improving your pipeline management include:
- Better resource allocation: With a clear visualization of each customer in the pipeline, your sales team is ready to allocate resources. For example, a sales manager can quickly prioritize a critical deal over something less urgent.
- Improved forecasting: After a few turbulent years, we all want to know what will happen in the future. You are better at forecasting sales data and quotas with a well-managed pipeline. This sales data is also critical for other departments, like finance and operations.
- More effective team management: With specific steps for each part of the pipeline, your sales staff should know exactly what they need to do. If sales reps are struggling with the process, sales managers can quickly identify these issues and help guide the sales reps before sales are lost.
- Increased sale velocity: Sale velocity is the speed a prospect moves through the pipeline. With better pipeline management, you should see that velocity improve. What took six months before may now only take five months.
- Reveals revenue-growing opportunities: As you continually refine your pipeline, you will begin noticing which deals generate the most revenue and which ones you should spend less energy on.
3 Tactics to Improve Your Pipeline Management
With a sales pipeline in place, your deals should move smoothly. However, you should constantly monitor your pipeline to make improvements. Here are 3 tips you can use to better manage your pipeline.
1. Use a CRM Software
Customer Relationship Management (CRM software is ideally suited to sales pipelines. You can define the steps in your sales pipeline, and the software will group your leads based on where they are in the customer journey.
CRM software also makes it easy to schedule phone calls, get deal information, analyze data, and automate emails.
2. Monitor Pipeline Metrics
Data is your friend when it comes to managing your pipeline. Pipeline metrics will help you determine which stages are stalling and which are doing well. Monitor metrics like:
- The total number of leads in your pipeline
- How many deals are in each step
- The average size of your deals
- How long it takes to complete a deal (sales velocity)
- The average number of deals you win (close ratio)
3. Streamline Your Sales Cycle
The B2B sales cycle is much longer than the B2C cycle. For new customers, the average sales cycle is 4-6 months. It could be even longer for some businesses with more complex products or services. No matter what kind of products you sell, do what you can to streamline the process. Your CRM software should help you isolate bottlenecks.
Televerde Can Help You Improve Your Pipeline Management
If there are certain stages of your sales pipeline that you struggle with, Televerde can help. We offer services for lead generation, sales qualification, and every other part of the sales pipeline.
We can even work with you for the entire sales pipeline if that is what you need.
Ready to improve your pipeline management? Contact Televerde today.