The pipeline is not complicated and should not have many tracking elements, but it must be aligned with your sales process and company requirements. It enables you to visually and easily track and maintain your business.
- It's very important to have all of your sales foundations in place before you begin to develop your sales pipeline. That's why this course began with a focus on planning, preparation, training, sales tracking, and a review of the financials, along with your overall objectives. This then guides you to the sales process you'll use. Remember, your sales process are the sales steps you're trained on and follow from the initial stage of obtaining leads all the way along to the final objective of closing a sale.
A sales pipeline enables you to have a visual snapshot of your business, so you can easily analyze your sales process at every stage. For illustrative purposes, we're going to use my 10 step sales process and create a pipeline view from that. Remember, there is no required way to do this. You can follow or modify my recommendations, label them to match them with your own company's terminology, and to fit your business requirements. The lesson is design your pipeline so it works for you.
We're going to start by taking my sales process and laying it out from left to right. We first start with prospecting and then gathering information, planning, and preparation. The next steps are assess the need and the solution required, solve with a product or service, and then present and sell your product or service. You then have to ask for the business and deliver on your promise.
The final three are just as important and they are follow up with your customer, report and communicate back to your customer and company, and then, lastly, evaluate and improve continually. It's most common to see four to five step pipelines for most companies. The one I've created for us to follow is five steps. A key reminder is to keep it simple. We start with leads and developing prospects. Depending on your company and sales structure, you could actually break this up into two stages.
Many larger organizations have lead generation teams or the marketing structure in place to feed solid leads to the sales staff. So a first step could be gathering leads and then going to the qualifying prospect stage. No matter how you structure it, we all know how important the starting point is. The success or disappointment of your product or service offering begins right here in finding people or companies to connect with. Cultivating opportunities.
The prospect has been qualified, you're having meetings with the buyer, you're asking questions, taking good notes, and listening. It's assessing the need of the customer while at the same time providing some revenue projections for your company. Solving the need and presenting. Each stage involves a number of meetings that can take up a lot of time. The analysis of whether this involves days, weeks, or more than a month is valuable to monitor. You'll often see opportunities stalling here and progress slowing dramatically.
Your assessment of the pipeline is so critical here. Closing sales. This is very straightforward. The question is whether you and your company call it a sales closed when the buyer says yes or when you actually receive the purchase order. This can be a very rewarding stage to track successes or point out the harsh reality that you have started with many leads and it's resulted in just a small percentage of closed business. And, finally, communicate, follow up, sell again.
This is my personal preference, because I feel the last two steps of the sales process are so important and I include it in the pipeline. Communication, following up with the customer, and starting the process again is what separates the exceptional salesperson from the average one. It's not complicated at all, is it? But from this simple pipeline you were able to track your efforts, estimate your sales, spot problems or issues, see what's working well or not, and get a real read on the sales cycle of your business.
The sales pipeline aligned with your sales process is such a great tool to enable you to sell more effectively, efficiently, and successfully.
- Sales foundations
- Organizing, planning, and tracking
- Developing leads
- Cultivating opportunities
- Closing sales
- Communicating and following up
- Forecasting sales
- Maintaining the sales pipeline
- Analyzing and making decisions