Every business should have a process and a system for managing their sales pipeline, it’s a foundation for success and making money.

A sales pipeline is the steps you take to turn a potential client into a paying client. Sales pipelines show you how many open opportunities you have, and which opportunities need attention. It’s important for businesses who want to reach their weekly, monthly, or quarterly sales goals.

We can look at sales pipelines here in more detail:

  • It will describe the process a prospect goes through and how your sales and marketing team engages with them at each stage.
  • Is different from a sales funnel, which describe a client’s journey from first encountering your brand to making a purchasing decision.
  • Both processes are important because they help you understand how clients identify your products and services and decide whether to buy from you.

A sales pipeline is a concept that articulates how your clients first encounter your brand and the steps you take to nurture that lead to ultimately purchase your goods or services. Here is how to build and refine a sales pipeline.

What is a sales pipeline?

A standard sales pipeline includes the following five stages:

  1. Lead generation
  2. Qualification
  3. Consultation
  4. Proposal
  5. Sale

You should customise your sales pipeline to suit your business and its model, though it is useful to have a baseline standard from which to start. You can the adapt future iterations of your sales pipeline to suit your individual circumstances.

Lead generation

The first stage is when your business is actively looking for potential clients. Efforts focused on increasing brand awareness are important at this stage. While few leads are ready to buy at this point in the pipeline, they will likely buy soon.

At this stage of the pipeline, attempt to gather leads through:

  • Social media
  • Your website and lead magnets
  • Blogs

Once you capture a lead’s contact information and consent, you can continuously market to them. That’s when you’ll get to move on to the next phase of the relationship, or sales pipeline. We would recommend that this is when a good Client Relationship Management (CRM) tool comes into its own.

How to develop this stage of the sales pipeline

Lead generation is the foundation of the entire pipeline, and it begins with knowing your ideal client through the use of ideal clients.

To develop a detailed ideal client persona, consider the following:

  • What type of media do they prefer to interact with? Examples may include:
    • YouTube videos
    • Instagram
    • Facebook Lives
    • Twitter
    • Specific magazines
    • Certain apps
    • Certain brands
  • What are their problems, and how can your products or services help solve them?
  • What channels are they most active on or likely to see? Consider digital channels like social media or email, as well as traditional methods like signage or billboards.
  • What type of content or free offer would they instantly say yes to?
  • What would be an easy, fun and on-brand lead magnet for your business to create?

Once you have answered these questions, it’s time to plan, create and distribute content through your marketing campaigns.

Qualification

Once you’ve captured the interest of an individual, you have to determine if they are a good fit for your business, which is known as qualification. To qualify your leads, ask questions about your clients’ needs in a survey. Alternatively, you could extend free offers or send targeted email campaigns around specific products or services and gauge which clients respond to which types of content.

How to develop this stage of the sales pipeline

This step will be especially important if you have many leads that were generated before you knew who you were talking to. However, it’s important to ensure your pipeline has a step in place that checks qualified leads to determine if they are cold or hot leads.

A hot lead is someone who:

  • Has the budget for your product and service
  • Can make the purchasing decision
  • Wants what you’re offering
  • Is eager to buy what you’re offering

How you determine whether a lead is hot or cold depends entirely on what you’re selling.

Consultation

During the consultation stage of the sales pipeline, you will speak directly with the prospect. You can ask about the prospect’s needs and discuss solutions that can be offered by the business.

A purchase may or may not happen at this stage. If the consultation doesn’t result in a sale, follow-up is essential. The final decision will come during the proposal stage of the sales pipeline.

How to develop this stage of the sales pipeline

Make yourself available to prospects. Be sure to stay in contact with prospects, and be readily accessible to answer any questions they might have.
Timely responses are essential. Whichever channels your clients are able to reach you through should be monitored regularly and responded to as quickly as possible to keep prospects and clients happy.

Proposal

The proposal is when the client is close to buying. Ideally, this and supporting conversations will lead to the ultimate goal of every business: closing the sale.

How to develop this stage of the sales pipeline

Once you have developed a relationship with the client, it’s time to make an offer in the form of a business proposal. The proposal should be modelled on what has been the most effective strategy thus far for your business.

Sale

When a sale is made, the pipeline isn’t finished. The business still must meet the client’s expectations. Existing clients should be nurtured into repeat clients by consistent contact and excellent service.

How to develop this stage of the sales pipeline

If your potential client is an instant yes, then your next task is to fulfil your promise and put them into your post-sale nurture pipeline until they’re ready to be moved back into your main sales pipeline.

But what if they initially say no? Or, worse, what if they say yes and then ghost?

Create a system for follow-up contact which could include automated emails from your CRM. Alternatively, this may be a follow-up email or phone call that results in a sale or marks the lead as being not ready to buy.

Are you struggling with your sales pipeline?

If you need help implementing your sales pipeline because of time restraints, overwhelm or perhaps you need to focus on your business in other way, perhaps we could help?

Why not book a call to discuss your requirements and how we could help make things happen!

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