According to HubSpot, there’s a positive relationship between the number of opportunities in your sales pipeline and your chances of revenue achievement.
Put simply, the more sales opportunities you have in your pipeline, the more likely you are to meet—perhaps even exceed—your sales quota.
That’s pretty cool, right?
So in this video I’m going to share what a solid sales pipeline looks like and how you can increase the flow of leads through yours.
What Is a Sales Pipeline?
Let’s start at the beginning. What is a sales pipeline?
A sales pipeline visualizes how prospects move through each step of a sales reps sales funnel.
From “sales qualified lead” to discovery, through the demo, past proposal and down to deal won or deal lost.
That’s an example of a very basic sales pipeline. Your pipeline likely has a few more steps if you’ve accurately mapped it out.
Understanding and tracking your prospects through your pipeline is valuable because it helps you focus on what deals to focus on, what channels lead to sales leads that close and it allows you to forecast your success moving forward too.
Let me explain… If you have a sales pipeline worth $100,000 in contract value and your conversion rate, from lead to sale is 15%, you can expect to close a $15,000 worth of new business.
Here you can see how defining and understanding your sales pipeline allows you accurately predict whether you need to increase your daily selling activity or if you’re on the path to crushing your sales quota.
Sales pipeline management goes beyond making sales managers happy. Forget the added benefit of sharing your average sales cycle length within your sales pipeline review meetings…
Understanding your own sales pipeline is going to help you win more deals. And that’s what we really care about at Salesman.org.
The 7 Stages of a Winning Sales Pipeline
Research from Salesforce.com showed that effective sales pipelines include the following 7 stages. Each of the stages help refine who is and who isn’t a good fit for our product and you will likely lose a few prospects at each stage of the pipeline even if your sales pipeline is healthy and effective.
Stage 1: Prospecting
Sales prospecting is the process of getting new business. Clearly a key part of the sales process.
Your target customers discover your company and learn about its products or services through ads, public relations, and other promotional activities.
You can also apply targeting parameters to deliver your pitch to potential buyers who fit your ideal customer profile and existing client base.
Stage 2: Lead Qualification
If you don’t want to spend your time and resources on low-quality prospects or deals that’ll never close, you need lead qualification.
Lead qualification is the process of recognizing potential customers most likely to make a purchase. You can offer lead magnets (e-books, webinar access, white papers) to move leads down the pipeline and determine whether they have a genuine interest in your product.
Stage 3: Sales Meeting
Now it’s time to go in for the sale.
Schedule a sales call or sales meeting to introduce potential buyers to your solution. Bring all your collective insights to build a strong business case demonstrating how your product can help the lead and eliminate their pain points.
Stage 4: Proposal
Your sales proposal is a summary of how your product can address the lead’s requirements and pain points. Think of it as your official sales offer.
It should also demonstrate how your proposed prices deliver enough value to offset the cost. Be sure to highlight your competitive advantages to differentiate your proposal from your competition.
Stage 5: Negotiation and Commitment
No prospect agrees to a sales proposal immediately. They’ll have additional inquiries or objections, which will result in the renegotiation of the initial proposal.
Be ready to expand or shrink the scope of work, adjust pricing, manage expectations, and several other activities before finally agreeing on a mutually beneficial partnership.
Stage 6: Contract Signing
Congratulations! You just closed the deal.
The next step is to make things legally binding. Prepare a contract and send it to your customer—physically or virtually—to move forward to order fulfillment.
Stage 7: Post-Purchase
As a sales representative, you’re also responsible for customer experience. After signing on the dotted line, the customer will expect exceptional service during onboarding and everything else promised to them.
Your job is to regularly monitor their progress and ensure you don’t fall short of your promises. This will come in handy when you approach them for renewals or referrals.
The quickest way to fill your pipeline
Before you can start selling you need to increase the number of prospects that are dropping into your sales pipeline. Very few salespeople can hit quota relying on inbound leads alone. That’s why we need to create prospecting lists and generate our own sales leads.
One great tool to generate sales leads is today’s post sponsor – Lusha.com.
Before you start cold emailing or cold calling, you’ll need your prospects’ up-to-date contact details. Luckily, Lusha.com can help you out with this.
Generating lists of potential prospects using Lusha is easy –
1) Get Lusha for free
Sign up to Lusha.com using the link below this video for free and get 25 free credits. Then install the Lusha plugin by following their simple instructions.
2) Start prospecting
Click the prospecting link at the top of the page and then select the variables that make up your ideal buyer persona in the left hand menu.
For me that might be –
- Industry: Telecommunications
- Contact location: United Kingdom
- Department: Sales
- Seniority: Vice President/Director
And bam, that’s over 906 potential prospects for me to reach out to –
Let’s say I want to reach out to Jonathan here and understand if his team is a good fit for our Selling Made Simple Academy training. All I have to do is click the “show details” button and bam –
There are his contact details. For convenience I can also save the contacts details to a list and also export the details to a bunch of other platforms too –
Filling your pipeline and increasing the chances of sales success has never been more simple.
If you’d like to start using Lusha to start filling your sales pipeline too, then click the link in the description below and get started with 25 credits for free, today.
How To Build a Sales Pipeline
A sales pipeline combines individual customer sales funnels into a single, complete picture for measuring the overall health of all prospects. It also visualizes the customer lifecycle, right from initial interaction to contract signing.
Here’s a brief rundown of how you can build a healthy sales pipeline for your company:
- Build a list of prospective buyers and stages. Create a list of prospective buyers and place them in different deal stages, depending on where they are in their buying journey. Look at the sales qualified leads that have been given to you and prioritize these in your list.
- Understand what sales activities you have to perform for each prospect. For example, you may have to initiate contact for one of your prospects and send a sales proposal to another. Understand your sales pipeline stages and where your prospects fit within them.
- Clearly define the sales cycle length. This should be done based on three factors: your product’s complexity, the required customization, and the source of leads (outbound sales leads have a longer sale cycle compared to inbound leads). The goal here is to eliminate the long sales cycle and increase sales velocity.
- Know your ideal pipeline size. According to research, an estimated 24% of forecast deals become stagnant. So if you need ten deals in a month, two or three deals may go dark over time. Therefore, keep an eye out for 15 deals instead of 10 to meet your sales quota and keep track of your sales pipeline value.
- Remove stagnant deals from the pipeline. Track the age of all your deals and remove leads that exceed your sales cycle length. This will increase the accuracy of your sales forecast (sales leaders love this).
- Measure sales pipeline metrics. With a strong sales pipeline in place, you can easily track and monitor your progress. This will help you calculate the number of deals you need to bring in to meet your quota and identify improvement areas to close more deals.
A filled and healthy sales pipeline means better results. Use our tips to build and fill your pipeline and you’ll master your results. Browse through our free training content for more amazing selling tips and techniques.