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How to build a winning sales pipeline to grow your business

Managing your sales pipeline plays a vital role in the growth of your business. “Getting prospects into the pipeline” is a widespread phrase you’d hear when you move through any sales circle. But what does it mean to ‘get’ prospects into a pipeline?

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” -Tony Robbins.

Yes, you got it right!

Setting goals is what a sales pipeline helps you with. In today’s digitally-connected world, every industry is turning more data-driven and requires facts and figures right at their fingertips.

Sales pipeline management is the one step you take to get closer to your sales quotas and achieve your revenue goals.

Like said before, a sales pipeline gets your goals into a perspective so that you can focus only on the important and leave the rest for later.

What is a sales pipeline?

A sales pipeline is a visual representation of where a particular lead stands in the sales process. It shows how many deals a salesperson has closed or is about to close in a week, month, or over a quarter, to achieve sales quotas.

Maintaining a healthy pipeline allows you to build your approach towards your targets, and bring in as much business as expected of you.

Say, for example, your pipeline is worth $100,000, and your conversion rate from lead to sale is 10%, then you can expect to close $10,000 worth of business. However, if your target is $20,000, you’ll either have to line up more prospects or convert twice as many leads to achieve your sales quotas.

This is where sales pipeline analysis comes in handy. When you have a clear view of your prospects and conversion rates, you can plan your sales strategies accordingly and get better results sooner.

A sales pipeline is an essential sales management tool that helps you increase your sales team’s productivity. It also gives you a precise forecast of where your business is heading towards.

Benefits of a sales pipeline

According to a Harvard Business Review survey, there was an 18% difference in revenue growth between the companies that had a formal sales process than those that didn’t. Thus, having a sales pipeline in your arsenal can come with many benefits that can help you boost your business growth. Let’s have a look into why and how managing a sales pipeline can help you grow more revenue:

1. You can monitor your sales team’s performance

Each stage requires a list of actions to be completed to move a lead forward. Sales pipeline helps managers to monitor their teams’ performance at each sales stage and take necessary measures towards their better performance.

2. You can make better forecasts

With details of the leads placed in the pipeline, it becomes easy to forecast whether it’ll get closed or not, and if it does, then how much revenue would it generate. You get to know how close your sales team is to reaching their targets, making it easy to reach your revenue goals in a given time frame.

3. You get to increase total sales volume and revenue for your business

The ultimate goal of any business is to grow its revenue and increase in size. Thus, anything that helps in doing so is advisable. Sales pipeline makes it easy for you and your team to understand which sales stage produces better results quickly and which steps can be ignored.

4. You can nurture leads better

Since you get all the information on each lead in a single place, it becomes easier to provide them with more personalized services and nurture them better at each sales stage. 

Sales pipelines help sales reps to naturally maintain the relationships by giving an insight into the needs and wants of their customers.

5. You can track deals and their progress

It gets tough for you and your team when you cannot note where a specific deal is heading. Maintaining a sales pipeline helps you track all the deals at hand while providing room to nurture and close them in minimum time.

Stages of a sales pipeline

stages of a sales pipeline

Every process has several stages that one needs to go through to complete it. Sales pipeline has a similar structure that allows you to segregate leads according to their stage where they stand:

1. Prospecting

Every pipeline starts with the same step- finding new prospects who are searching for what you are selling. However, the prospecting process might differ from company to company. 

Some organizations have a different lead generation team. Sometimes, leads are generated through downloadable content, social media, or website, or when a potential client expresses his interest in your services. You can also go through cold leads that might look like potential buyers.

Once the prospecting is done, you move your leads to a second stage- Qualifying leads.

2. Qualifying

The second step in your pipeline can sometimes be called the most important one. You don’t want your representatives to waste their time on inappropriate leads or those not interested.

This is the research part, where you contact the lead and find out more about their work and whether they would be interested in your services. Once done, you then set an appointment with them, which moves them to the next step.

3. Setting appointments

The third step in your pipeline is one of the most difficult ones to pass. You have already initiated contact with your potential client, so you now just need to build a rapport with them to get them to meet you.

You can make calls, send them prospecting emails, or simply meet them in person. Getting their appointment will ensure that you get enough time to pitch them what you are selling and showing them how it’s beneficial to them.

4. Presentation

Congratulations! You are now sitting in your potential client’s office.

Now that you are there, all you need to do is tell them about your services and show how it’s going to benefit their organization. This is your golden chance to grab the deal or lose it.

But what will make sure you don’t lose your prospect’s attention is the next step!

5. Follow-ups

Following-up with your prospect doesn’t mean you annoy them with constant calls and messages. There are ways in which you can keep their attention while not making them uncomfortable. Maybe forward an article you think they may like, or like their posts on LinkedIn.

Ensure your prospects remember you, and trust you enough to share their objections and issues with you openly.

6. Handle sales objections

Since you have now made a heart-to-heart connection with your prospects, they trust you with the issues they are facing and expect you to find a solution for them.

Talk to them to understand why they are facing such issues and what can be done to overcome these objections so that the deal can be closed.

7. Negotiation

Once you are aware of what’s keeping your potential client from signing that cheque, you have to come up with a middle-ground where both you and your client get satisfaction.

Since you both are now on the same page, you can decide whether to go ahead or not.

8. Closing

The final stage of your sales pipeline, of course, is where you close the deal and take that signed cheque with you.

Sometimes, however, your prospect still might be unsure whether to go ahead with the deal or not. If you feel he has ghosted you right before the sale, try to make a few more attempts . If they still don’t respond, mark them as cold leads, and move ahead to the next one.

How to build your sales pipeline?

How to build your sales pipeline

Now that you know what the stages of a sales pipeline are, you can now go ahead and build one for yourself.

It is necessary to build a sales pipeline with the right information in hand and practice it the best way.

1. Have a list of your prospects in hand and qualify them

Getting a list of prospects and qualifying them becomes the first step towards building a pipeline.

There are several ways to get a list of prospects who might be interested in your services. These are two basic types of generated prospects-

MQL- Marketing Qualified Lead, those leads which are shared by the marketing team, and

SQL- Sales Qualified Lead, the ones that are qualified by Sales Development Representatives

Make sure you have a list of prospects, and it should be as detailed as possible. It should contain all the names, contact info, company names, the position they work at, how you got in touch with them, or why you think they might be interested.

2. Create a standardized sales process and follow it

Your sales process is a precise formula that determines whether your team will succeed at getting business or not. Thus, having a streamlined sales process will ensure that your team follows a standardized procedure that is easy to track and has provided visible results.

3. Your revenue goals and sales quotas

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” -Napoleon Hill

What good is all the hard work when you don’t know where it leads to?

Having sight of your goal is an important aspect of the process and the first step towards reaching it. Keep a note of your company’s revenue goals and your sales quotas so that you know which direction to go.

4. A meeting scheduled with colleagues to discuss

A sales pipeline is a company-wide tool used by all the sales reps to track their process. When deciding on a particular flow of the process, it is obligatory to have every representative on the same page so that the sales process can be followed appropriately.

Managing your sales pipeline

managing your sales pipeline

Improving your entire sales process is a long and tedious process, and managing it is more challenging than one would expect. Hence, we have some ideas on how you can manage your sales pipeline and use it effectively.

1. Prioritize high-value deals

If you look closely at your pipeline, each deal takes almost the same amount of time to get through the pipeline.

But it’s unnecessary to invest time into each of them and still come up with unexpected results. Hence, prioritizing the right deals is an essential factor in better sales pipeline management.

Choose which deals are favorable and act on them first to not waste your time on those who don’t convert.

2. Drop-dead leads

While prioritizing the deals, you also find out which of them aren’t responding or which ones will not get converted. These deals are the ones that we call dead deals, and they must be dropped immediately to save your time and energy.

3. Update your pipeline regularly

An out-dated sales pipeline is as good as a dead pipeline. We know it’s monotonous to enter data manually and keep on updating the pipeline. 

However, if you don’t do it, you lose prospects and won’t be able to crack any deals because you won’t know where to focus!

Lost a client? Enter into the system.

Closed a deal? Note it down.

Got another meeting fixed? Add to your calendar.

Don’t forget to keep your system updated, because if you don’t, you end up losing important deals.

4. Keep your sales cycle short

Investing a lot of time on a single prospect isn’t exactly smart. When you have a long and tedious cycle, you tend to lose your focus, while your prospect loses interest in your services. Keeping things simple and your sales process short is a sure-shot way towards better sales pipeline management.

5. Use a CRM to manage your pipeline

One of the most common mistakes made by salespeople is that they don’t have a proper system to regulate and track their progress. Having a CRM to take care of your sales process comes with its own set of benefits. It saves you from manual labor while providing you enough time to build and maintain relationships with your customers.

Win more deals with an efficient sales pipeline

The benefits of having a sales pipeline are plenty. And getting a CRM to manage your sales pipeline effectively and keep all your essential data in a single place is an even smarter choice. 

Salesmate provides the right solution for building and maintaining a healthy sales pipeline along with other features that automate your sales services.

Parijat Lamba

Being an avid reader, Parijat developed a keen interest in writing at a very young age. She's passionate about topics like Spirituality, History, Psychology, and Philosophy. She's now a Product Specialist at Salesmate and strives to write her own novel someday.

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