Contact Center

A Step-by-Step Manual on How to Build a Sales Pipeline

Madhuri Gourav
February 2, 2024
11
 mins read

Last modified on

In the field of sales, having a well-structured and organized sales process is crucial for achieving success. A sales pipeline is one key tool that can help streamline your sales efforts.  

In this post, we'll look into what a sales pipeline is, how it differs from a sales funnel or forecast, and the benefits of having one. We'll also outline the stages of a sales pipeline, provide a 5-step guide on how to build a sales pipeline, discuss important metrics to include, and share tips on effective management. 

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What is a Sales Pipeline?

A sales pipeline is a visual representation of your sales process, showing all the stages a lead or prospect goes through, from initial contact to closing a deal. Think of it as a roadmap that guides your sales team to move potential customers through the sales journey efficiently. Each stage of the pipeline represents a step in your sales process and helps you track the progress of each lead.

Now that we clearly understand what a sales pipeline is, let's explore how it differs from a sales funnel and a sales forecast.

How Is a Sales Pipeline Different From a Sales Funnel or Sales Forecast?

A sales pipeline focuses on the current state of individual leads, detailing their progress through defined stages, while a sales funnel represents the broader customer journey from awareness to conversion, including all potential leads. 

In contrast, a sales forecast predicts future sales based on historical data and trends, providing a quantitative estimate of expected revenue. While sales pipeline, sales funnel, and sales forecast are related concepts, they serve different purposes:

  • Sales Funnel: A sales funnel is a broader representation of the customer journey, from awareness to conversion. It includes all potential leads; as they progress, some drop off, leaving only those who eventually convert into customers.
  • Sales Forecast: A sales forecast predicts future sales based on historical data and trends. It provides a quantitative estimate of expected revenue over a specific period.
  • Sales Pipeline: In contrast, a sales pipeline focuses on the current state of individual leads or prospects. It details where each lead is in the sales process, providing a clear picture of what needs to be done to move them closer to conversion.

Having differentiated a sales pipeline from a sales funnel and a sales forecast, it's crucial to look into the advantages of having a sales pipeline and why it is a valuable asset for businesses.

Important indication of sales process
Important indication of sales process

Is It Beneficial to Have a Sales Pipeline?

Absolutely! Having a sales pipeline is highly beneficial as it enhances sales efficiency, aids in accurate sales forecasting, and ensures improved accountability, ultimately leading to better conversion rates and streamlined communication within the sales team.

Achievable call center conversions with Convin
Achievable call center conversions with Convin [Source]

A well-structured sales pipeline offers several benefits:

  • Increased Sales Efficiency: It helps sales teams prioritize leads and allocate resources effectively.
  • Improved Sales Forecasting: Accurate pipeline tracking aids in forecasting future sales and revenue.
  • Enhanced Accountability: Salespeople are accountable for moving leads through the pipeline stages.
  • Better Conversion Rates: It ensures no leads fall through the cracks, increasing conversion rates.
  • Streamlined Communication: Teams can collaborate better by sharing insights on leads within the pipeline.

With a clear understanding of the benefits a sales pipeline can bring to your organization, let's now focus on the various stages that make up a typical sales pipeline, illuminating how it guides leads from initial contact to successful closure.

Stages of a Sales Pipeline

The stages of a sales pipeline typically include Lead Generation, Qualification, Initial Contact, Needs Assessment, Proposal, Negotiation, Closing, and a final stage for Won or Lost deals. 

These stages help organizations track and manage the progress of leads from initial contact to conversion. A typical sales pipeline consists of several stages, depending on your business. 

Here are the common stages:

  • Lead Generation: Identifying potential customers and collecting their information.
  • Qualification: Assessing leads to determine if they match your ideal customer profile.
  • Initial Contact: Making the first outreach to engage leads.
  • Needs Assessment: Understanding the prospect's requirements and pain points.
  • Proposal: Presenting a tailored solution or offer.
  • Negotiation: Discussing terms, pricing, and addressing objections.
  • Closing: Finalizing the sale and obtaining a commitment.
  • Won/Lost: Designating deals that are either successfully closed or lost.

Now that we have discussed the phases of a sales pipeline, let’s explore the useful procedures involved in creating a personalized sales pipeline that precisely matches your unique company's goals and requirements.

The stages of the sales pipeline
The stages of the sales pipeline
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5 Steps for Creating a Unique Sales Pipeline

This section will break down the five essential steps to construct a tailored sales pipeline that optimizes your sales process, maximizes conversions, and enhances your sales team's efficiency. These steps will provide a structured approach to creating a customized pipeline that suits your business requirements.

Now, let's dive into how to build a custom sales pipeline tailored to your call center's needs:

Step 1: Define Your Stages

The first step in creating a custom sales pipeline is defining the stages your leads or prospects will progress through. These stages should mirror your organization's unique sales process. Start by examining your existing sales process, identifying key milestones, and mapping out how leads typically move from initial contact to conversion.

For example, common stages might include "Lead Generation," "Qualification," "Proposal," "Negotiation," and "Closing." However, feel free to customize these stages to match your specific business model, product/service offerings, and target audience.

Step 2: Set Clear Criteria

Once you've outlined your pipeline stages, it's essential to establish clear criteria for each stage. These criteria help your sales team determine when a lead should transition from one stage to the next. Criteria might include factors such as budget approval, decision-maker engagement, or the level of interest expressed by the prospect.

By defining these criteria, you reduce ambiguity and ensure that your sales team operates with a shared understanding of lead progression, fostering consistency, and improving decision-making.

Step 3: Implement Sales Tools

Leverage sales enablement tools like CRM software to manage your custom sales pipeline effectively. These tools provide a centralized platform to track leads, record interactions, and automate certain processes, streamlining pipeline management.

Popular CRM systems such as Salesforce and HubSpot, or custom-built solutions like Convin, offer pipeline customization, automation, and analytics features. Choose a tool that suits your organization's size and needs to facilitate efficient pipeline management.

Step 4: Train Your Team

Building a custom sales pipeline is only effective if your sales team understands and consistently follows it. Therefore, thorough training is crucial. Train your sales team on the customized pipeline stages, the criteria for advancing leads, and how to use the chosen CRM tool effectively.

Ensure that your team recognizes the significance of accurate data entry, as it's fundamental for pipeline management, reporting, and decision-making. Regular training sessions and ongoing support will help your team seamlessly adapt to the new pipeline.

Step 5: Continuously Optimize

Your custom sales pipeline is not static. To ensure its effectiveness, you must continuously monitor and optimize it. Regularly review pipeline performance data, identify bottlenecks or areas for improvement, and adjust your pipeline stages or criteria as needed.

Use analytics and feedback from your sales team to refine the pipeline. This might involve adding new stages, revising criteria, or incorporating automation to enhance efficiency further. Continual optimization ensures your pipeline aligns with your evolving business goals and market dynamics.

Having established the crucial steps for building a customized sales pipeline, the next pivotal aspect is understanding the key metrics that should be integrated into your pipeline. These metrics provide invaluable insights into your pipeline's performance and enable data-driven decision-making to drive sales success.

Percentage of call centers that plan to invest in process automation
Percentage of call centers that plan to invest in process automation

5 Key Measures Every Sales Pipeline Should Incorporate

The upcoming section will encompass five vital metrics that should be integral to your sales pipeline. These metrics offer a comprehensive view of your pipeline's health and guide you in making informed decisions to enhance your sales strategy and results.

Monitoring key metrics is essential for pipeline management for:

  • Conversion Rate: Measure how many leads move through each stage and ultimately convert into customers.
  • Pipeline Velocity: Calculate the average time it takes for a lead to move from one stage to the next.
  • Win Rate: Track the percentage of deals closed successfully compared to the number of opportunities.
  • Sales Cycle Length: Monitor how long it takes, on average, to close deals from the initial contact to conversion.
  • Deal Value: Analyze each deal's potential revenue to prioritize high-value opportunities.

Now that we've explored the crucial metrics to track in your sales pipeline let's focus on the strategies and techniques required to manage and optimize your sales pipeline effectively. Managing your pipeline efficiently is key to achieving consistent sales success and maximizing revenue potential.

Sales process flowchart
Sales process flowchart

Managing a Sales Pipeline With Convin

Managing a sales pipeline with Convin involves leveraging Convin's platform to streamline and optimize your sales processes. Convin is a sales enablement tool that provides a range of features and functionalities to help you build, monitor, and accelerate your sales pipeline effectively. 

Below, we'll explore the key aspects of creating and managing a sales pipeline with Convin:

  • Data Capture and Integration: Convin integrates with your CRM system, ensuring centralized customer data storage and minimizing manual data entry, thus reducing the risk of inconsistencies.
  • Customizable Sales Pipeline: Convin allows you to create a customized sales pipeline, defining stages, criteria, and adapting it to align with your unique sales methodology, ensuring alignment with your objectives.
  • Lead Tracking and Management: Convin streamlines lead management by providing a clear overview of each lead's status, enabling sales teams to focus on those most likely to convert.
  • Performance Analytics: Convin provides comprehensive analytics, enabling real-time data on key metrics like conversion rates, pipeline velocity, win rates, and deal values, enabling informed decision-making and strategic resource allocation.
  • Automation and Workflow: Convin offers real-time analytics on conversion rates, pipeline velocity, win rates, and deal values, enabling informed decision-making and strategic resource allocation.
  • Collaboration Tools: Convin fosters collaboration among sales, marketing, and support teams, promoting seamless communication and insights sharing, fostering a customer-centric approach and alignment in their efforts.
  • Content Management: Convin offers content management, allowing centralized storage of sales collateral, presentations, and documents, ensuring easy access for sales teams to engage and educate prospects.
  • Mobile Accessibility: Convin is often available as a mobile app, allowing your sales team to access critical information and update the pipeline while on the go. This mobile accessibility enhances productivity and responsiveness to customer inquiries.
  • Security and Data Privacy: Convin prioritizes data security and compliance with industry standards. Your customer data is protected, and you can control user access and permissions to ensure data privacy and confidentiality.
  • Scalability: Convin can adapt to your organization's growth. As your sales team expands and your sales processes evolve, Convin can scale with you, accommodating changes and new requirements seamlessly.

To sum up, Convin offers a complete solution for building and maintaining a sales pipeline. Convin offers customizable pipelines, automation, strong analytics, and collaboration tools to help your sales team work more efficiently and make data-driven decisions, ultimately improving sales performance. Gaining a competitive edge in the market, higher revenue, and improved customer engagement are all possible outcomes of using Convin.

The customer-sales relationship in the sales enablement process
The customer-sales relationship in the sales enablement process

Create a Unique Sales Pipeline to Never Miss Out on Sales Opportunities

Ultimately, a well-structured sales pipeline is critical for any call center manager or supervisor. It lets you streamline your sales process, track leads effectively, and make data-driven decisions. 

By following the 5-step guide and utilizing the right tools, such as Convin, you can build a custom sales pipeline tailored to your organization's needs and maximize your sales potential. Don't miss out on valuable sales opportunities—contact us to learn more and start building your sales pipeline today!

FAQs

1. How do you build a sales pipeline?

To build a sales pipeline, define your stages, set clear criteria, implement sales tools like CRM software, train your team, and continuously optimize the process.

2. What is the formula for the sales pipeline?

There needs to be a specific formula for a sales pipeline, as it varies by business. It generally involves stages, criteria, and tracking methods tailored to your sales process.

3. What is the pipeline method of sales?

The pipeline method of sales refers to the systematic approach of managing and tracking potential deals as they progress through various sales stages.

4. What is a strong sales pipeline?

A strong sales pipeline has a steady flow of qualified leads, clear criteria for advancement, and a high likelihood of conversion, leading to consistent revenue growth.

5. How to create a pipeline in CRM?

To create a pipeline in CRM, you typically set up stages, criteria, and automate lead tracking, which can be done using the CRM's features and customization options.

6. How do you plan a pipeline?

To plan a pipeline effectively, define your sales goals, identify target customers, allocate resources, implement sales strategies, and establish criteria for lead progression.

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