In this video, learn about terminology ranging from pipelines to processes, and from funnels to leads. Also, learn the reason for the need of sales pipeline management.
- With some subjects we study and courses we take, we'll come across terminology, buzzwords or jargon that maybe commonly used within an industry or certain profession. We either wait for some clarification or quickly scramble to do an online search so we're clear about the meaning and don't feel embarrassed or reluctant about asking. The reality is that with this course, I'm sure that we will have all heard many of the terms that I'll be using. Words such as funnel, prospect and opportunity are common for all of us in sales.
However, I'm smiling because I'm also sure that we would all probably come up with slightly different interpretations of many of them too. I think it's so important that everyone gets on the same page with definitions and interpretations of terms that often have slightly different meanings depending on the manager you report to or the company that your work for. I bet if you asked a colleague what constitutes a lead, you'll get a variety of answers. The key takeaway is meet with your peers in sales, marketing, business development and whomever and agree on what certain key terminology means.
Let's start with making sure we're clear on the difference between the sales process and the sales pipeline. A sales process is comprised of the selling steps you're trained on and follow from the initial stage of prospecting all the way to the final objective of closing a sale. The sales pipeline focuses on the specific number of leads, prospects and opportunities as they flow along through your sales process. For the purposes of this course on sales pipeline management, we're going to be starting with leads that hopefully become prospects.
With leads, you're researching, making cold calls, sending out emails to leads of names or contacts that will hopefully generate a need for followup. Once interest has been uncovered, it becomes a qualified lead. Then when an actual sales call is made, it becomes a prospect. Probably the easiest definitions would be for opportunities and closed sales. However, never assume and always reconfirm within your company.
For me, an opportunity is when things start to get more serious with a customer. You're beginning to develop ideas for creating a proposed solution and there's some initial revenue projections made. A closed sale is when I hear the official yes from a buyer. However, in some companies, it's not until the purchase order is actually received. Do you know the difference between a sales funnel and a sales pipeline? Once again, ask 10 people and you'll get 10 answers. I see a sales funnel as being visually focused on showing the large amount of prospects shrinking down to a smaller amount of closed sales.
The sales pipeline aligns with your sales process with the key stages of working with a potential customer. You're able to evaluate, track and analyze at each phase of the pipeline. Both are visual but my preference is definitely the pipeline. In a very simple way, you can get a real handle on the health and strength of your business. All of this really isn't that complicated. However, in the course of my career in sales, I've seen many disagreements over these terms and the ways of reviewing the sales process.
It is wasted time and diverted attention away from our primary objective of solving the needs of our customers. The lesson is take the time to regularly communicate, educate and review all of these steps with sales team members and others within your organization to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
- 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