Sales Pipeline: What It Is and How to Create One

Sales Pipeline

What do you do to organize and improve the entry of new customers into your company? Discover the sales pipeline and how to create one for your business!

If you have an online business, at some point, you have felt lost with the contacts of several prospects wanting to know more about your product or closing the purchase. This is normal and is the biggest reason for you to build a sales pipeline.

This term refers to the sales funnel, but they are not synonymous. In literal translation, the pipeline is an analogy more related to a channel or tube, that is, it is a much longer funnel.

While the sales funnel shows up to 4 steps that a user goes through when contacting your business, the pipeline discriminates around 8 actions that the person responsible for sales must perform.

What is the sales pipeline?

Pipeline is like a framework that guides the negotiation between a sales representative and a contact. For a more tangible understanding, get to know each basic step of a sales pipeline:

Initial contact

Corresponds to the learning or discovery stage, the customer journey, and the prospecting stage (traditional stage of a sale).

This is where a contact becomes a lead and the trigger for the next phase of the pipeline is usually the identification of the lead’s profile and its purchase potential.

Call for start of qualification

Equivalent to the approach step. The seller will have to qualify the leads most closely aligned with the personas, and the trigger for moving up the funnel will be interested in a proposal.

So if the lead left your phone on a landing page form, the audio call the salesperson will make sets up the second step of the pipeline.

Meeting for presentation and needs assessment

In parallel to the customer’s journey, we can consider that he has entered the problem recognition stage.

A meeting will be scheduled for the salesperson to explain how and why their service will solve the customer’s problem.

Creation of the commercial proposal

In this contract, the person responsible for the sale must prepare a personalized quote, preferably highlighting the value of the product, not just its price.

It is recommended to schedule a meeting for the presentation of this proposal, removing all doubts from the lead and leading him to choose, when considering the solution, for his business.

Follow-up

While the lead decides to close the service or not, it is advisable to follow it up by sending data from surveys, news in the segment, your company’s differentials, etc. Remember that 80% of sales take, on average, 5 contacts to materialize.

Negotiation

It could be that your lead makes counterproposals, still has doubts and objections. It is a step in which the seller must also be prepared to promptly resolve these impasses.

Contract signing

Going back to the consumer journey, at the decision-making stage, the customer can decide whether to close the service — or not. Whatever the answer, the sales pipeline is almost over and the salesperson must start the process over with another contact.

Email and/or after-sales call

If the sale has been completed, it is essential to start the after-sales. Some options: send a welcome email, ask if the customer is satisfied with the service, and offer partnerships, among others.

How to Build a Sales Pipeline in 4 Steps

Now that you know what the key aspects of a traditional sales pipeline are, understand the steps to do yours:

Structure your ideal customer’s journey

For every business, there is an ideal customer profile. Gather the target audience data, avatar and draw that consumer profile you seek to have in the company. Build the processes around that ideal customer’s journey, from learning to buying decisions.

Adapt the traditional sales process

Depending on your niche, the sales process can take 3 to 15 moments. As exemplified above, in this article, think about the phases that should be part of your business, such as prospecting, proposal, and negotiation and post-sales.

Calculate the time and number of opportunities for each step

For this step, you must know the average time for an entire sales cycle. There are entrepreneurs who manage to close the cycle in 3 months, others less and so on. It is individual data, as it depends on numerous factors.

With this number, you can estimate the maximum time a salesperson can work on each step of the pipeline. It is important to impose this limit so that the responsible person withdraws a contact that is not going to convert and works on another one, more prone to purchase.

Additionally, consider the optimal amount of leads. For example, you need to close 135 contracts and your reps typically meet 90% of that goal at the negotiation stage. Therefore, the forecast for this moment is 121 opportunities.

Maintain the sales pipeline

Just as there are processes to disconnect a lead from the pipeline, it is necessary to keep the entire funnel healthy.

To do this, when identifying an unresponsive contact, send an e-mail closing sales and, if feasible, contact them again within a year.

Another initiative is to update the data and identify whether that lead that entered the pipeline still has purchase decision power (in the case of B2B companies).

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