A sales pipeline is your business's core sales process, from awareness to the point of closing the sale. It's a graphical illustration of converting a prospect into a lead and, ultimately, your customer.
A sales pipeline merges different sales funnels through its cycle. The goal of a sales funnel is to generate leads that will lead to finding your next customers. Knowing how to build a sales pipeline helps your business navigate through each sales funnel.
A lead magnet is at the core of a sales funnel, while at the core of a sales pipeline is lead generation coupled with a sales team.
The Six Stages of a Sales Pipeline
Typically, any sales pipeline goes through a six-stage process that involves prospecting, qualification, contact, building relationships, closing, and retention. Let's take a deeper dive into each stage to see what they mean for your business.
Prospecting is the first stage in the sales pipeline. This is where you look for and seek a buyer's attention. The buyer is still raw and not part of your sales pipeline yet. A typical method businesses use for prospecting is videos on social media or through cold emailing. They could quickly go viral, generating your leads.
What next after you get leads? You will need to qualify them to join your sales pipeline. Qualification is more or less like a test where you determine whether the lead will buy the product or not. Buyers in this stage need your product but haven't decided whether they should buy it yet.
The contact stage could still go hand in hand with the prospect stage. It's the first point of direct contact with your prospect. Prospecting is more about creating videos to get their attention. At the same time, the contact stage involves engaging the lead through initiating personal contact.
4. Building Relationships
Part of winning prospects and converting them into repeatable buyers is building healthy relationships with them. Gather as many personal details as you can about them. What decision-making power do they have? What are their priorities? Does your product fit into their lives and workspaces?
Building a relationship demands that you create a content library to keep them hanging around your website and ultimately becoming buyers of your products. Building a content library involves potential ideas such as creating articles, eBooks and videos around your products. Ideally, your content library should be password protected and prospects can get access to it by registering with their email address.
So, what exactly happens at the closing stage? You can be sure you have reached this stage if your prospect shows a lot of interest in your product. Try giving them what they are looking for. You can do this by first understanding their pain points and package this into a video. Don't get discouraged from updating your pitches when they appear hesitant.
You just closed a business deal with a new client. How do you keep them engaged and coming back for more? Here is where the retention phase comes in. Key elements of this stage to remember are:
● Establish a sound customer support system or channel for users. You have to be responsive and engaging.
● Analyze your sales pipeline periodically to understand and identify hurdles cropping up.
● Have a database where you classify leads, i.e., cold leads, and keep checking whether they qualify.
Prospects always demand attention and engagement at every stage of the sales pipeline. That means you need to be on top of things. You can do more sales videos regularly. This keeps them retained and moving up the sales pipeline.
Building a Sales Pipeline
At this point, you already have an understanding of a sales pipeline and the stages involved. This section will teach you how to build a sales pipeline ideal for your business. We explain in detail the five-pronged process of building the sales pipeline below.
1. Identify prospective buyers for your business
The first step you will need to take is getting an understanding of who your buyer is. That means undertaking some research to understand your buyer persona. What are their problems, and how is your product going to address those problems? This helps you know what stages to include in your pipeline.
2. Calculate the number of deals you need at each stage
What numbers are you going to work with at every stage of the sales pipeline? You want to calculate your sales cycle length and average win rates, to mention a few. From here, you will quickly understand how your sales pipeline looks. You also know what numbers you need to keep adding to reach the peak of your sales goals.
3. Set your sales cycle metrics
Building a sales pipeline demands that you define your sales cycle metrics. Some crucial metrics to consider are length, sales, and targets. Your sales team needs to have a clear picture of the numbers they need to achieve to meet their targets.
4. Understand what fuels conversions
With a clear buyer persona, numbers, and metrics right, it's time to understand what fuels conversion from one stage of the sales pipeline onto the next. What is your team going to do to affect the flow of deals? What factors and variables should you consider that will help you and your team advance the deal? An action point could be writing a winning proposal, getting budget approval, or identifying key stakeholders.
5. Build a scalable routine around your sales pipeline process
Now that you completely understand the sales pipeline process and its stages, identify activities that add new conversions to your pipeline. What is the ideal time of day that works for you in closing deals? Some pointers you could use include:
● Use an effective sales management software
● Work with rewards or a competitive element amongst your team members
● Do a regular clean-up of your sales pipeline.
If you want to build a robust sales pipeline, follow this guide to get the results you want. First, you will need to understand the stages involved in building a sales pipeline.
Next, understand how you can move deals from one stage to another. Now build a culture around your pipeline-building activities. You are currently on your way to having that great business.