How to Develop and Manage The Sales Pipeline

Sales Pipeline Management and Development graphic.

How to Develop and Manage The Sales Pipeline

To get proficient at making a profit for your organization, selling of products and services needs to be done. For more deals and sales, however, a unified, streamlined sales funnel management process needs to be in place. For the vast majority of companies and businesses, this process involves a sales pipeline showing where prospects are in the sales funnel.

What is a Sales Pipeline?

The purpose of a sales pipeline is to move a prospect through the sales funnel to the point where they become paying customers. Like the sales funnel, the sales pipeline has multiple stages. As a prospect progresses through the stages, the sales person needs to alter how they communicate with the prospect as well as the messaging they portray. Unlike a sales funnel, which defines the different stages of the selling process, a sales pipeline shows where a prospect is on the sales funnel. In many cases, a prospect will stall at one of the sales funnel stages. A sales pipeline can provide the sales person with valuable information on how to get the lead unstuck and progress onto the next stage.

Sales Pipeline Development

If you don’t know how to start and implement a sales pipeline, remember these basic steps: Prospecting, initial contact, lead qualification, meeting or scheduling a demo and closing the sale. These are the five basic stages of sales pipeline development.

Step 1: Prospecting

At this stage, you identify who your targeted audience is and gather information about who you think will be the candidates to become a paying customer. At this point, your sales prospects are called leads.

Step 2: Initial Contact

After you gather the list of leads, along with their contact information and some basic information on them as a person, it is time for the marketing team to begin initial outreach. Cold calling and emailing are the most common ways of reaching out to leads.

Step 3: Lead Qualification

After initial contact with leads, you will get some replies back expressing interest. Before you get too excited and automatically move them onto the next stage of the sales process, these leads need to be vetted using a lead scoring system. The leads score will indicate whether he or she is worth pursuing. Only those who have a high probability of progressing through the sales funnel and converting into a paying customer will be forwarded to the sales department to carry out the next stage of the sales pipeline. These are called sales qualified leads, or SQLs.

Step 4: Meeting or Sales Demo

After the leads are qualified, the sales personnel aim to schedule one-on-one meetings with each lead, presenting them with a demonstration of how the product or service works and how it can benefit their business.

At this point in the pipeline sales cycle, it is important for the sales people to put together an individual, unique presentation addressing each lead’s business goals, wants and needs.

Step 5: Closing the Sale

At the conclusion of the individualized, in-person sales demonstration or meeting, a proposal is drawn up.

At the end of the pipeline sales process, the result is either a successful sale or an unsuccessful one. If your sale is successful, it is important to regularly follow-up and check in with the new client. If the deal fell through categorize the lead as a dead one and move on to the next one.

How to Manage a Sales Pipeline

Once a lead is successfully converted into a paying customer, the salesman’s work isn’t done. Once you develop a sales pipeline, one must constantly manage it. Sales pipeline management utilizes a variety of online tools to provide the sales team with crucial sales pipeline analysis.

The most common tools are a customer relationship management (CRM) system, scheduling software and email tracking.

A CRM offers a centralized place your sales and marketing teams can go to view and track leads and open deals. These systems also offer a place where the contact and other information about current customers is found. When delving into your CRM sales pipeline, there are certain sales pipeline analysis you should pay attention to. This includes:

  • How many deals are in your sales funnel
  • The average deal size in your sales funnel
  • The percent of deals that go through, also called the close ratio
  • The average lifespan of a deal before it is closed, also called the sales velocity
  • How much time it takes to sell a product or service
  • How long it takes for leads to respond
  • The opportunity win rate
  • The average size of a deal
  • The length of the pipeline
  • How much the sales pipeline covers the sales funnel, called the sales pipeline coverage ratio (SPC)
  • How much it cost to acquire a customer (CAC)
  • The lifetime value of a customer (CLV)
  • The number of monthly new leads
  • The amount of monthly recurring revenue (MRR)

Scheduling software lets your sales team more efficiently coordinate in-person meetings with leads by informing them the availability of the lead. The lead will also know the availability of the sales rep so a date and time can be quickly decided upon that works best for both parties.

Email tracking software will let your marketing department see how many people clicked on the email, read the email and took the desired action. This software can also inform you about other not so good metrics such as how many times your email got marked as spam or was automatically deleted without being opened.

Sales pipeline management also involves constantly tweaking your sales process based on past failures and mistakes.

Some common mistakes to avoid include:

  • Immediately turning prospects over to the sales team
  • Not listening to or understanding the needs of your customers
  • Putting sales quotas and business profit above helping and connecting with the prospects and leads
  • Inadequate and inconsistent follow-up

Instead, when doing sales pipeline management, try these tips:

  • Save time by automating repetitive, mundane tasks
  • Set reminders to follow-up
  • Make sure everyone in marketing and sales knows the company defined pipeline stages
  • Make action items and expectations clear for each pipeline sales stage
  • Track sales metrics

A unified, defined company sales process will help your sales and marketing teams do their jobs better and more efficiently, resulting in more prospects that can be taken through the sales funnel via the sales pipeline.

If you have dead leads in your pipeline sales, Aktify can help. The Aktify system can revive those dead leads via phone call, text or email. We have helped multiple companies regain potentially missed revenue opportunities by following up with their dead leads. We can help yours too and help get those leads through your sales pipeline. Contact us today to learn more.

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