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stages of sales pipeline

7 Sales pipeline stages every entrepreneur should understand!

Key Takeaways
  • With the help of an effective sales pipeline, you can achieve 2X productivity and revenue.
  • With the help of an effective sales pipeline, you can achieve 2X productivity and revenue.
  • The creation & management of stages of the sales pipeline differ by the type of business and their customers.
  • Invest in Salesmate, a robust CRM with sales pipeline management to streamline your sales process and boost revenue.

A common challenge for businesses is predicting which lead will close and when.

Building structured sales pipeline stages can be a game-changer here. They provide a preview of expected cash flow and deal progress.

With strategic stages of the sales pipeline, you can:

  • Predict revenue growth
  • Determine overallocation or resource gaps
  • Identify where your team can improve to achieve sales targets
  • Sales cycle length, opportunities, and bottlenecks

According to Forbes reports, companies with well-managed and accurate sales pipelines can see a 10% increase in revenue growth annually.

Further, by focusing on each stage, businesses have managed to spot and resolve hold-ups that slow down sales.

This blog covers the 7 typical sales pipeline stages with best practices to engage, track, and boost your deal closures.

Let’s define the sales pipeline.

What is a sales pipeline?

A sales pipeline means a visual representation that lets your sales team quickly identify the different buyer touch points.

It helps keep your team updated about where your leads are in the stages of sales, allowing them to cover tactics for maintaining the sales pipeline full.

This sales cycle starts when the potential customer steps into the sales process from initial contact.

After learning the sales pipeline definition, let’s review the seven key stages to see how you can empower your sales team.

7 Key sales pipeline stages to grab opportunities and boost sales

7 Key sales pipeline stages

There are mainly seven stages of a sales pipeline, from prospecting to closing the deal, along with post-sales follow-ups. All these business development pipeline stages are crucial for tracking progress and optimizing sales strategies.

Let’s understand the seven sales pipeline stages:

1. Prospecting

The first sales pipeline stage is prospecting, where you identify and qualify potential customers who may be interested in your products or services.

Before contacting prospects, it’s essential to understand their buying persona, challenges and needs to offer a tailored solution. This is why salespeople spend six hours a week researching the prospects.

Unlike lead generation, which is an inbound process where the marketing team attracts potential customers (or leads) through content marketing, SEO, and digital advertising, prospecting is a more personalized approach.

It involves directly contacting prospective clients through emails, phone calls, or social media messages.

The goal is to engage those who have yet to express interest in your product or service but fit the profile of your ideal customer.

For B2B leads, tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator can help identify and connect with potential leads based on specific criteria such as industry, company size, and role.

Once you’ve generated potential leads for the business through these inbound and outbound sales efforts, the next stage is to qualify them.

Understanding the prospect’s pain points, having a well-defined ideal customer profile (ICP), and using a lead scoring model can improve the efficiency of this sales pipeline stage.

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2. Lead qualification

Qualifying leads means assessing whether they have a genuine need or interest in your product, the authority, and budget to purchase it, and are likely to decide within a reasonable timeframe.

The lead qualification stage involves direct communication with the leads to ask sales discovery questions and gather more information about their needs and capabilities.

Further, top sales reps use various sales qualification frameworks to discover the prospect’s budget, the authority to make the purchasing decision, and a timeframe for purchase.

For instance, sales reps can use a BANT framework to identify leads with the highest potential by evaluating their Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing.

This approach streamlines the sales processes, ensuring efforts are focused on prospects likely to convert into paying customers.

Must check – Top 6 most used qualification frameworks by sales professionals

3. Initial contact

Now that you know who your prospects are, it’s time to make contact and let them trust you.

This means providing them with the information, support, and encouragement they need to purchase.

It can involve sending personalized emails, offering product demos, or discussing how your product or service can solve their specific problems at this point in the sales pipeline stages.

4. Making a proposal

This sales pipeline stage involves presenting a tailored proposal that outlines how your product or service can meet the prospect’s requirements.

An effective sales proposal should be concise, clear, and focused on the potential client’s needs. It should detail how your product or service addresses the client’s problem and the benefits they’ll receive.

A well-crafted initial proposal also includes a CTA, prompting the potential client to take the next step.

During the proposal stage, it is crucial to highlight what sets your product or service apart from the competition. This could include superior product features, exceptional customer service, or competitive pricing.

It’s also a time to address any concerns or objections the prospective customer might have.

5. Handling sales objections

Negotiations and handling sales objections are critical sales pipeline stages.

These mainly centered around resolving queries, addressing concerns, and guiding potential customers towards a decision.

Successful sales objection handling often comes down to thorough product knowledge, understanding of the customer journey, and excellent communication skills.

CRM (Customer relationship management) platforms and sales enablement tools can help sales reps access relevant information about customer preferences and history, aiding in effective negotiation.

A key challenge in this sales pipeline stage is handling unforeseen objections or price negotiations.

Training your sales professionals in conflict resolution, winning negotiations, and deep product knowledge can help them tackle common sales challenges more effectively.

Sales leaders must conduct regular sales meetings, providing a platform for reps to share their experiences and learn from one another’s challenges.

6. Sales closing

Sales closing is a critical stage at which the sales rep aims to finalize the agreement and secure the prospects’ commitment to purchase.

This pipeline stage often directly impacts the bottom line and determines how much revenue a company can generate.

Effective sales closing techniques, such as assumptive close or giving a special limited-time offer, can help sales leaders win more deals.

These techniques help you secure the deal and reassure the prospect about the value they’ll receive, compelling them to make a confident purchase decision.

Must read – 7 Proven techniques of sales closing!

7. Post sales follow-up & referral generation

Keeping customers happy and coming back can boost a company’s earnings.

In fact, if a business keeps just 5% more of its customers, it could make 25% to 29% more money, indicating the importance of looking after customers after they purchase.

You can develop a post-sale follow-up plan that includes thank-you notes, customer satisfaction surveys, and regular check-ins.

Additionally, you can engage customers with newsletters about new products or industry insights and interact on social media for direct communication. Such tactics will effortlessly keep you in touch with your clients.

Also, you can engage existing customers for referrals to advocate a happy brand to the clients. There can be incentive programs for referrals at the right time.

To improve your post-sales activities,

provide training, onboarding assistance, and support to ensure the successful implementation of products or services.

Automate your follow-up journey with Salesmate CRM!

Automate your follow-up journey with Salesmate CRM!

With sales cadences, you can automate all the follow-up activities through emails or text messages to spend more time pitching new leads!

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How to create a sales pipeline?

If you are willing to create sales pipeline stages from scratch, use these steps and align them with your customer’s buying journey to create a successful company’s sales process.

Create sales pipeline

Let’s break it down to make these points clear before making a new business pipeline:

1. Understanding your customer

The first step in creating a sales pipeline is understanding your potential customers mainly about:

What are their needs and pain points?

How does your product or service meet these needs?

To accomplish this, you can conduct surveys, analyze customer data, conduct thorough market research, and more, effectively moving your lead toward the closing of the sale.

2. Define the stages of sales pipeline

Next, you need to define your sales pipeline stages by beginning with initial contact or lead generation and moving through stages like qualification, proposal, negotiation, and sale.

These sales opportunity stages should reflect your customer’s buying journey through the potential customers’ awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, purchase, and post-purchase form.

3. Identify key activities in each stage

Once your sales pipeline stages are defined, you must identify the key activities. These key activities involve understanding customer needs, tailoring communications and offers, nurturing leads, and more.

The initial stage is about generating interest through the targeted market.

As potential customers move through the sales pipeline, they primarily focus on solving their specific challenges.

This way, the key activity in each stage keeps evolving, ensuring that prospects are moving towards closing sales deals.

4. Use a CRM system to streamline sales process

A sales CRM system can be beneficial for managing your best sales pipeline stages from initial lead capture to closing the deal and beyond.

You can automate all your repetitive tasks, track prospects’ progress, and get valuable insights into your pipeline.

A robust CRM with sales pipeline management lets you track every step a prospect takes, from initial contact to closing the deal, ensuring you never miss a beat.

Moreover, the insights from the sales pipeline report reveal patterns and trends in your sales process, helping you to optimize your sales strategy for better outcomes.

5. Monitor and adjust strategy

Finally, remember that creating your sales pipeline is not a one-time activity. Regular review and adjustments are necessary to keep your pipeline effective.

Look at the metrics, identify bottlenecks, and adjust as needed, as good sales pipeline management involves constant optimization.

Use these steps to build robust sales pipeline stages that align with your customer’s journey and streamline your sales process.

Looking for free sales pipeline templates for your start-ups!

Looking for free sales pipeline templates for your start-ups!

You can customize or create a sales pipeline from scratch or let the sales pipeline templates create the best pipeline for your new venture.

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5 Sales pipeline stages best practices that you must implement

Effective sales pipeline management involves several strategies and steps. It’s about ensuring your pipeline works efficiently to convert prospects into customers.

5 Sales pipeline stages best practices

Here are some measures to ensure an apt way that helps grow your sales pipeline for the business:

1. Keep your pipeline full of sales leads

To keep your sales pipeline filled with leads, mix different ways of finding them, such as using online content, social media, and email to reach out to new people.

Make it easy for your website visitors to contact you and learn more. Also, monitoring which method works can help you focus on what is effective.

Also, collaboration with businesses that complement your business or going to industry events can help you introduce new customers to your business.

You need to keep adjusting your approach whenever required, which will help attract new leads and enable business growth.

2. Focus on high-value opportunities

Focus on leads that are most likely to become customers and generate revenue.

This strategy requires close collaboration between sales and marketing teams to attract and nurture these prospects effectively.

Teams can engage these high-value leads by using targeted content and personalized outreach, addressing their specific needs and challenges.

Further, use an automated lead scoring system to prioritize leads based on their actions and engagement, identifying those with the highest potential value.

3. Keep opportunity data updated

You need to ensure that the leads in your sales pipeline are up-to-date and of high quality.

For which a centralized platform like Salesmate CRM can help maintain clear visibility across all the stages of your sales pipeline.

Also, identify and remove deals no longer progressing to free up the tool. To mainly focus on the opportunity with a higher likelihood of closing, thereby increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the sales cycle stages.

Further, it lets your sales team focus on the most promising opportunities to help your business soar to new heights.

4. Always take a follow-up

Did you know that at least 60% of customers say no four times? That’s why persistence is the first attribute any sales rep should adopt.

Regular follow-up with every deal at sales pipeline stages will help keep the conversations going.

It will also address any concerns and steadily move them towards sales, enhancing engagement and sales conversions.

Automate your follow-up processes to ensure potential clients are nurtured adequately through the pipeline without overwhelming your sales team.

5. Avoid common mistakes

To optimize the overall sales process and improve outcomes, it is essential to avoid typical pitfalls, such as neglecting lead qualification or failing to analyze and adjust strategies based on lead pipeline stage data.

Now, let’s explore how an effective tool can help you create and maintain the sales pipeline properly.

Also read: How to manage your sales pipeline effectively

How to keep your sales pipeline updated with Salesmate

Salesmate CRM is a leading platform for sales pipeline management. You can build multiple sales pipelines, customize them, and scale your business.

Here is a well-structured sales pipeline that looks inside Salesmate.


A well-defined sales pipeline makes managing leads easier. It lets you focus on leads that are more likely to buy. This way, your sales team works more efficiently, using their time where it counts the most.

Salesmate pipeline management system enables to:

  • Use lead scores to spot hot leads so your reps can focus on the most promising deals at the best time in the sales pipeline.
  • Get a bird’ s-eye view to see the bigger picture of your entire sales process and identify opportunities at the prospecting stage that are ready to convert.
  • Build custom sales pipelines as per business needs and customer base. It lets you build multiple pipelines to scale your business.
  • Identify loopholes to know where exactly your deals are clogging in the sales pipeline.
  • Generate sales pipeline charts and analytics to view the number of deals and their value at each stage and predict future sales revenue.

Salesmate is your solution for filling your sales pipeline with opportunities. It simplifies and enhances every step, from lead scoring to nurturing leads, ensuring your engagement is always personalized.

With Sales Activity Tracker, you can track your reps’ sales performance and analyze key metrics to identify areas for improvement.

Through the integration of email, text, call, and video chat you can connect with your prospects through all the mediums through Salesmate CRM.

Salesmate CRM software streamlines sales enhance customer relationships and offers insights for smarter decisions.

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Grow your revenue like our 5000+ clients!

Salesmate is an intuitive CRM streamlining your sales cycle with robust pipeline management, automation, and analytics.

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Wrapping it up!

For successful sales, it is crucial to build a strong sales pipeline with defined stages that help to accomplish your sales goals.

This roadmap includes lead generation, initial contact, qualification, making a proposal, negotiation, closing, post-sales follow-up, and referral generation, illuminating the path from a potential lead to a loyal customer.

Further, an organized sales pipeline focuses beyond simply managing prospects. It enhances sales pipeline management, refines sales forecasting, and identifies bottlenecks.

You will require tools and techniques to manage the sales funnel effectively.

By focusing on the sales pipeline stages like lead nurturing, sales teams can improve their performance, ensure a streamlined sales process, and drive higher conversion rates.

Get customized templates through an effective CRM for your business!

Frequently asked questions

1. What does a sales pipeline mean?

A sales pipeline represents a visual way of tracking and managing your entire sales cycle. Potential buyers progress through various sales pipeline stages in the purchasing process. The right sales pipeline development is helpful for your team members to close deals faster.

2. How to build a sales pipeline from scratch?

Here are the steps to build sales lifecycle stages for your business:

  1. Understanding your customer
  2. Define your stages of sale
  3. Identify key activities in each stage
  4. Use a software
  5. Monitor & adjust
3. How to manage your sales pipeline?

Here is the best practice to maintain a healthy sales pipeline for sales managers and reps:

  • Create a standardized sales process
  • Focus on the best leads to meet sales goals
  • Drop dead leads
  • Monitor pipeline metrics
  • Update your pipeline process timely
  • Remember to follow up frequently
4. What are the stages of the B2B pipeline?

The crucial B2B sales pipeline stages are prospecting, qualification, first contact, nurturing, negotiation, closing the deal, and post-sales assistance.

5. How do you classify the sales pipeline stages?

The important sales pipeline stages are:

  1. Prospecting/lead generation
  2. Lead qualifying
  3. Initial contact and nurturing
  4. Making a proposal
  5. Handling sales objections
  6. Sales closing
  7. Post sales follow-up and referral generation