What Sales Professional Need to Know About Sales Pipeline
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Complete Guide on Sales Pipeline and How It is Different From Sales Funnel 

TransFunnel Consulting
TransFunnel Consulting Mar 10, 2023

Let’s Explore How Sales Pipeline Management Can Drive Business Growth

According to Harvard Business Review, ineffective sales pipeline management can push businesses to grow by a mere 4.6%. But they can expect a growth of 15% if businesses plan and execute the right marketing strategies with the right techniques. 

This implementation brings an average growth rate of 5.3% to businesses. However, opting for strategic sales management techniques, including well-defined sales processes, pipeline management and spending time training sales managers also led to a boost of 28% in business revenue.

This guide covers all the fundamentals you need to know about sales pipeline management and the difference between sales pipeline and sales funnel

What is sales pipeline? 

The sales pipeline visually shows the various stages involved in the sales process before a prospect turns into a customer. It is a systematic approach to managing the sales process and pushing prospects or leads to the next stage.

Different stages of the sales pipeline

The sales pipeline is divided into several stages where a prospect goes through several stages before becoming a customer. These sale pipeline stages can vary depending on the organisation's sales process, but they generally include:

1. Suspect:

At this initial stage, you have a long list of leads with some potential customers interested in your products/services. These potential leads are results of your marketing efforts, personal contact or other activities. However, you need to filter out the potential leads which have a high intent of buying your product.

2. Prospect:  

Technically, prospects are those who are highly interested in buying your products and services. However, according to your business mode of communication, start communicating with your first lead. 

A recent study in 2023 by Leadsquared reveals that salespeople can better contact prospects on channels such as LinkedIn (21%), SMS (21%), social media (18%), and in-person at industry events (34%) and email.

3. Analysis:

Understanding your customer's buying potential and interest is an integral part of accomplishing their needs before pitching your products/services. Generally, salespeople at this stage analyse the root causes, requirements, needs of prospects and determine how their product can meet customers objectives and solve challenges.

4. Negotiation:

A novice salesperson may be afraid of ending up losing a deal if somehow failed to convince prospect. At this stage, prospects are interested in your product but not completely convinced about the next step. All your efforts can be vain if not tackled in the right manner. But the expert can change the whole game with a blink of an eye.

The negotiation can be a monetary, feature-based, trial period, service duration and much more. However, use discounts, free trials, offers and real case studies to boost the process.

5. Closing:

Finally! A big sigh of relief. The sale is finalised at this stage and your customer is convinced to buy your product/ services and ready to become your paying customer.

6. Order:

Conversion is a selling part, but customer retention is a winning deal. At this stage, the salesperson follows up with the customer at regular intervals to ensure customer satisfaction and discover opportunities for new sales. 

Let's understand at which stage you need to put more effort into improving your sales process.

How to improve sales pipeline management? 

Sales Manangement

As per a recent report by Harvard Business Review, companies with an effective sales pipeline management process achieve 28% higher growth in ROI.  We've put together the best sales pipeline management tips and push your business one more step toward growth.

1. Never miss a follow-up :

Follow-up is the third most challenging practice for sales teams. However, having proper sales pipeline management will give you a quick recap of which leads need to follow up timely. HubSpot CRM tool automates processes and reminds you to follow up at a specific time and date.

2. Improve documentation :

The sales process may seem simple and achievable on paper but quite complex to execute. In contrast, documentation can standardise the complete sales process and help salespeople to understand their next step. Moreover, using a sales management tool like HubSpot CRM can optimise documentation and lets you learn the sales process through interactive UI.

3. Create resources for sales enablement :

95% of buyers choose brands who assist for content plan at every stage of purchasing process. However, aligning your sales & marketing teams must ensure the content produced is in sync with the requirements and needs of what customers are looking for. 

4. Visualise your sales pipeline to identify bottlenecks :

Analysing potential leads across the sales pipeline gives you a quick insight into the directions your efforts lead to. Further, collating all data in one place manually is tiresome but automation makes it easy for you. HubSpot CRM can help you generate real-time data and reports.

5. Speed up processes with automation :

Ideally, 4-6 months is the average deal closing duration for novice customers. However, businesses should decrease each sales pipeline stage's time to maximise sales revenue. HubSpot CRM can help in automating the lead nurturing stage and speed up the entire sales process. Real-time sales analytics data can help you manage sales pipelines.

Why build your sales pipeline management?

Sales pipeline management refers to the process of organising and managing the various phases that lead to a sale, from lead generation to closing the deal. 

Here are some of the advantages of effective sales pipeline management:

1. Increased accountability:

Sales pipeline management helps you assign different responsibilities and track the progress of the salesperson responsible for each stage of the sales process. This can increase accountability among team members and ensure deals are closed in a timely manner.

2. Improved customer experience:

By tracking your customers’ progress through the sales pipeline, you can personalise your sales approach and provide a better customer experience.

Sales Piprline Management

3. Better collaboration:

Sales pipeline management provides a centralised platform for tracking and sharing information about potential customers and deals. This can facilitate collaboration among team members and help them work together more effectively. 

4. Improve forecasting :

Sales pipeline management allows you to forecast your sales revenue more accurately, which can help you plan and budget more effectively. 

5. Increase total sale volumes and revenue :

By managing your sales pipeline effectively, you can identify potential customers and opportunities early on, which can help you close more deals and increase your sales.

How to build your sales pipeline management?  

All the stages in the sales process are benchmarks in the sales pipeline that ensure you are a step closer to cracking the deal. 

To track your marketing and sales efforts and performance, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Track progress and performance at each sales stage   
  2. Set pipeline goals to break down targets into achievable milestones. 
  3. Don’t let leads stagnate   
  4. Track, record and analyse sales pipeline metrics   

Difference between sales pipeline and sales funnel 

A better way to understand this is to assume a sales funnel to be a pipe with different stages and a fixed end. Through this, the leads are filtered at every stage and reach the end. The only leads that reach the end enter into the stage of a sales pipeline. 

Let's understand some major differences between both:

Sales Pipeline vs Sales Funnel

Key takeaway

By tracking your prospects’ progress through the sales pipeline, sales teams can identify potential bottlenecks and areas for improvement in the sales process. 

If you want to boost your sales process and experience seamless tracking to analyse and improve the same, then a marketing automation consultant is the right choice for you. 

TransFunnel has helped many businesses align their sales and marketing teams with the help of the right marketing automation strategies and training. 

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