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Sales Pipeline Management

Manage your sales process and forecast results efficiently

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What is a Sales Pipeline?

A sales pipeline is a detailed visual depiction of the stages of the sales process. It shows you at which stage your prospects are in the sales process. An effective sales pipeline will help sales reps and teams manage the often complex processes necessary to close deals. A Sales pipeline gives you a good idea about how many deals your sales team members are expected to close in a defined date range and where your sales reps are on their target journey.

For B2B sales, having a healthy sales pipeline helps you:

  • Improve upon your sales process

  • Predict business results

  • Analyze various business sales strategies

  • Manage resources with a view to closing or servicing potential sales

  • Review your standing for the current financial year

  • Know where you are on your targets.

  • Manage resources with a view to closing or servicing potential sales

  • Review your standing for the current financial year

  • Know where you are on your targets.

An effective sales pipeline software is crucial both in closing more sales deals and in identifying the overall health and future progress of your business.

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What is a sales pipeline management system?

This is a no-brainer — Business has no meaning in the absence of sales. Irrespective of the size of a business, sales is its lifeline. The performance metrics of any business are solely dependent upon sales. Therefore, having an organized sales management system is crucial.

However, ill-organized sales management processes inevitably lead to erratic sales pipelines, obscure sales cycles and undefined lead management, eventually leading to chaos. It is therefore critical to empower sales teams with relevant tools to create an efficient sales management system. While sales management enables enhancement of sales operations, tips and tricks and processes to meet sales objectives, sales pipeline management revolves around a single key element, i.e. the sales process.

New-age sales pipeline software systems such as the EngageBay CRM system helps you identify and monitor the number of open deals, the stage of each open deal, potential sales, distributed allocation of deals among sales reps, and more via a visual sales pipeline.

Why is a Sales Pipeline Important?

The important thing about the sales pipeline is that if managed well, it directly results in increased revenue. It has been found that businesses with effective pipeline management had an average growth rate of 5.3, a 15 percent increase. Even more interestingly, companies that mastered three specific pipeline practices saw 28 percent higher revenue growth. (Harvard Business Review). Moreover, HBR points out that those three practices are:

  • Creating a well-defined sales process
  • Focusing on the sales process
  • Training sales officers in pipeline techniques and strategies

Near Precise Forecasting

Sales pipelines enable a holistic view of every sales rep’s work activity, how close they are to their targets either individually, or at the aggregated team level. This information, once generated, makes it easier to make monthly, bi-monthly, half-yearly or annual revenue predictions. The knowledge of impending sales and realistic revenue projections is critical to all other departments of the company such as finance, Operations, and Manufacturing

Increased Revenue

Focused Allocation Of Resource

WIth the knowledge and understanding of where your sales are at each pipeline stage for an individual customer or opportunity, you can plan out the optimum allocation of resources to help business objectives. Sales officers can identify which deals are priority, and whether or not they’ll need more resources

More Sales

Efficient Sales Team Management

In order to successfully complete a stage in the sales pipeline and keep the opportunity alive, there are actions to be completed. The effective tracking of key metrics consistently enables sales managers to identify and address challenges for each rep so that the sales process is seamless.

Better Relationships with Your Customers

Enhanced Velocity Of Deals

Effective tracking of data will let you know whether it’s taking too long to move opportunities between stages. For example, suppose your annual sales goals per sales rep is $2,000,000. If only half of your sales team has reached $1,000,000 in sales six months into the sales year and the other half are lagging, it becomes imperative to look into individual performance, and take curative action based on the available data.

More Efficiency and Productivity

Amplify Total Deal Volume, Size, and Revenue

Obviously, as a business driver, you would like the number of opportunities to grow, and the dollar amount they generate to keep growing, as well. A sales pipeline shows you precisely when to expend less energy on certain opportunities, what to omit from the process, and which situations to proactively pursue

Better Relationships with Your Customers

Sales Pipeline Stages

Stage #1: Lead Generation/Prospecting

Whether you call it the prospecting stage, the lead generation stage, or even the new opportunities stage, this is the beginning of your sales pipeline. During this stage, you’re eager to get new leads or opportunities. Hopefully, you can convert these leads into loyal, buying customers.

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Stage #2: Lead Qualification

This second stage is all about determining if you and the lead are a good fit for one another. You want them to blend in with your target audience as closely as possible. This is known as Lead Qualification.

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Stage #3: The First Contact

Now that you’ve qualified your leads, you know which ones are worth reaching out to. This will be your first contact with them. Through your calculated research, these leads are more likely to open your emails, click links, and even respond. They may also be more receptive to offers.

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Stage #4: Prospect Needs

Through your lead scoring and initial meeting, you’ve learned a ton about your prospect. This benefits you for the next stage of your sales pipeline, which is identifying the needs of your prospects. This is also known as the Prospect Needs Stage.

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Stage #5: The Offer

The fifth stage of your sales pipeline is the offer stage. By this point, you’ve done all the necessary homework on your prospect. You’ve given them a buyer persona, scored them, and interacted with them. You’ve created a certain level of engagement between the two of you. Through all this communication, you’ve also learned of their pain points and needs. Finally, you’ve assessed whether your products or services are the right fit for the lead. This is when you will make a personalized offer.

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Stage #6: The Win/Loss

One of two things will happen when you make your offer to the prospect. They will either say yes or they’ll say no, they’re not interested. This is known as the win/loss stage. This is a rather self-explanatory stage. If the prospect said yes, then congrats! You can move on to stage seven, the final stage in the sales pipeline. If they said no, then this is the last stage, at least for now.s

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Stage #7: The Closing

If the prospect said yes, they want to try your product/service, then you move into the finalizing or closing stage. This is where terms may be negotiated and formal contracts are often drawn up. This is known as the Closing Stage.

task management in engagebay crm

How to define and build your sales pipeline

Every business wants to make decisions that are smart and well-informed. In such a scenario, sales pipelines act are critical as leads transition into the following stage of the buying cycle. The pipeline helps to divide the deal into various stages depending upon your business requirements. Based on this breakup, sales teams take opportune decisions to engage with leads.

A typical B2B sales process will have sales pipeline stages such as:

Deal created: An opportunity is determined with a warm lead, and a record is subsequently created. This is the first step towards a successful deal closure.

Trigger contact: At this stage, a sales rep undertakes contact with the lead to understand their business needs. This stage also allows you to align your business offerings against the lead’s requirements.

Schedule demo: After your introductory communication, if the lead believes that your services fit his business requirements, you may schedule a time slot at his convenience to demonstrate your product. Else, you may try to set up a meeting to negotiate the deal.

Negotiation: Once the lead has shown interest in purchasing your services, you arrive at the negotiation stage. The basic elements for negotiation include price, services, conditions, etc. To make a winning sale, you can submit your proposal.

Won or Lost: The final stage in your sales process is where you register the outcome of your deal. If it’s all positively agreed upon between you and the buyer, you mark the deal as won. Otherwise, if the buyer is not ready to make the purchasing decision yet, you can categorize them as requiring nurturing and check back later.

A CRM with an effective sales pipeline management system such as EngageBay allows you to customize each stage based on your business needs and internal structure.

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