How to Build a Sales Pipeline?

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Your sales team is often juggling many different prospects and deals. They can’t afford to lose one through the cracks. The sales pipeline stages can assist you and your team in visualizing the sales process. It depicts where your deals are in the sales funnel, where values are stalling, and which sales activities contribute to reps closing deals and generating the most revenue.

The sales pipeline visualizes your sales process by breaking it into small trackable tasks. Given that a sales pipeline is such an essential sales tool, how do you build a sales pipeline? Your sales pipeline should be structured around your sales cycle, which consists of all the necessary steps to close a deal.

Your sales pipeline is a comprehensive lead generation plan that will make certain your business remains on course to achieve its goals. A well-thought-out and optimized sales funnel can help lead generation as well as lead nurturing, qualification,

The stages of a sales pipeline will help you and your team visualize how to close sales quickly.

In general, the stages of your sales cycle will include your target customers or clients, leads you’ve contacted, leads you’ve agreed to meetings with, prospects you’ve sent a proposal to, and deals that have been signed.

What will you need before you build a sales pipeline?

Organizations that are just establishing their sales function will need to define their sales process and team structure before building their sales pipeline. After establishing your sales process and team, you must determine your ideal customer profile, or ICP, to discover prospects.

It is essential to note that your sales pipeline also depends on your organization’s business model and go-to-market strategy. Finally, a sales pipeline is incomplete without a revenue target or goal you have to set for yourself as an organization.

In essence, four critical elements are needed to build a sales pipeline.

  • Sales process and team structure
  • Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) to discover prospects
  • Go-to-market motion and business model
  • Revenue target or goal

What are the different stages of the sales pipeline?

A typical sales pipeline can include anywhere between 5-7 stages depending on the industry and the specific sales process of the organization. The stages of a sales pipeline are the stages an account moves through during a sales cycle. They include qualifying, pre-selling, proposal development, and closing phases. We have listed some of the common sales stages below along with an explanation of each stage.

1. Prospecting

Sales prospecting is the process of acquiring new clients. It entails extensive research and outreach in the search for potential customers or buyers for your product. There are two types of prospecting: outbound and inbound.

Outbound prospecting involves cold outreach to individuals discovered through research on LinkedIn or Google. In contrast, inbound prospecting involves reaching out to individuals who have already shown interest in your product by visiting your website or signing up for your newsletter. You can gauge potential buyers’ level of interest through targeted emails, cold-calling, customer referrals, industry events, and occasionally by establishing yourself as a problem-solving specialist via social media.

2. Lead Qualification

Your sales rep’s time is valuable. Nobody wants to spend their time and resource chasing a deal that will never close. Lead qualification is the process of identifying deals that are most likely to be closed. Most companies use customer personas or ICP to sort prospects by industry, company size, location, and pain points. This is the most common way to qualify leads.

BANT is another popular strategy that sales reps use to qualify leads. BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing. BANT was originally conceived by IBM and focuses on the below aspects.

  • Budget: Does the prospect have the required budget to purchase your product?
  • Authority: Does the prospect have the authority to make the purchase, or do you need to communicate with other individuals?
  • Needs: What business pain points does your solution alleviate?
  • Timeline: When is the prospect looking to make a purchase?

A qualified lead is one step closer to becoming a customer. Once you have a qualified lead, your sales team should invest time and effort into trying to make a sale.

3. Sales call, demo, or meeting

After you qualified the prospect, you will have to set up a sales call, demo, or meeting with them to present your solution. After you qualified the prospect, you will need to schedule a sales call, demo, or meeting to pitch your solution. At this point, you should collect as much information as possible about the prospect so that you may personalize your pitch to the client’s needs. Most firms also develop an objection handling document to cover some of the most frequently asked questions by the prospects. This prepares the sales reps for any challenging questions raised during the meeting.

4. Proposal

At this step, an official sales offer is made. You reiterate how your organization can alleviate the pain points of potential customers. You reiterate pricing information and illustrate why the product’s business value outweighs its cost.

This is also the period when you will differentiate your proposal from the competitors and emphasize the product’s benefits. Personalization and perceived value should be remembered at this level. You want the prospect to realize that you have a thorough understanding of their business. Avoid providing them with a generic proposal and instead, adapt it to their specific problem issues.

5. Negotiation

Whether we like it or not, negotiation is an integral part of every deal. In addition, negotiation allows you to address any potential issues that may develop in the near future. To reach a final agreement, businesses must negotiate expanding or reducing the scope of work, modifying pricing, and managing expectations.

6. Contract Signing

Most sales reps shudder when their legal team reviews everything, and contracts are time-consuming. Nonetheless, ensure that contracts are thoroughly reviewed before both parties sign the dotted line.

7. Onboarding and Post-Purchase

When you close a deal, it’s not the end of the journey. The customer experience has just begun. To build lasting relationships and secure future business, it’s crucial to provide attentive service during setup and regularly check in on their account. This is an opportunity to cross-sell new services and upsell premium solutions at the right time. Remember, recommendations and repeat business hinge on how you treat your new customers.

Conclusion

In conclusion, building a sales pipeline is a crucial part of any business and requires a structured and systematic approach. By understanding the buyer’s journey, defining your ideal customer, and mapping out the different stages of your pipeline, you can increase the chances of closing more deals.

Additionally, implementing tools and techniques such as lead scoring and nurturing, can help you streamline the process and prioritize your efforts. Remember, a sales pipeline is a living document that requires regular monitoring and adjustments to stay effective. With the right strategy in place, you can turn your pipeline into a powerful tool for driving growth and success for your business.

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