What Is A Sales Pipeline

Today's topic answers that exact question!

A sales pipeline, also called a sales process, is a specific sequence of actions that a sales rep needs to take so they can guide a prospect from a sales qualified lead to a customer. Once each pipeline stage is completed, the prospect is advanced to the next stage.

These stages are Prospecting, Qualification or Meeting, Consideration, Decision or Proposal, and Closing. 

Why is the sales pipeline important for your company?

It’s all about measuring, analyzing and iterating, right? A sales pipeline helps you track the progress of deals that your sales team is currently working on and expect to close within a reasonable amount of time.

From here you can plan your needed services, products, future marketing, and other company-wide initiatives. You can also plan for the ebb and flow of business. 

How can you use an effective pipeline for your sales team?

One quick note to consider on two very commonly swapped terms: the difference between a pipeline and funnel. A sales pipeline reflects what a seller does during the sales process, and a sales funnel measures conversion rates through the sales process.

Now… how can you better manage your sales pipeline?

Sales Pipelines for Better Follow Up

It may seem super obvious but you need to follow up! Whether you’re using a CRM with reminders, sequences like HubSpot uses or some other automation, managing your sales pipeline effectively starts with simply following up.

Sales Pipelines for Lead Focus

Focus on the best leads and drop the dead leads. This could bring tools like lead scoring into your workflow, but it really comes down to managing your contacts well and understanding where they are in the sales process.

You already know that the best prospects most likely to close typically have similar behaviors and time frames for closing. Look for those indicators. You also know when it’s time to let go of a lead. It’s best to use data like scores and grades as much as you can, but you also get to know your prospects. Use a mix of experience and data in your CRM tool. 

Sales Pipelines for Monitoring Sales Metrics

Monitor pipeline metrics. Whether it’s a sales dashboard, regular check-ins, or setting up notifications, keeping an eye on your metrics like the number of deals in your sales pipeline, the average deal sizes and your close ratio all help you better manage the pipeline.

Set aside time on a weekly basis to regularly review these metrics so you have an ‘at a glance’ view of the health of your sales pipeline and your business. Tracking the results over time will also give you a strong indication of how any changes or improvements you make to your sales process are contributing towards overall growth.

Sales Pipelines for Content Mapping

Give your sales pipeline more content. Sure, phone calls and emails are at the heart of most sales communication. But you also know that much of the time prospects will require more information to help them understand if your product or service is right for their business.

For each step of the pipeline, think about what kind of content you can provide to your pipeline to help reinforce your message and guide them through to the next phase.

So, what kind of content should you be prepared to provide? The answer lies in listening to what your potential customers have to say.

During sales meetings, they’ll give you insight into the types of content they want at each stage of the pipeline. They might ask you for something as simple as “do you have an article that explains this?” or “is there a product sheet I can download?”

If you have this type of content, then send it. If not, then this information should be fed back into your marketing department.

Now that you know what a sales pipeline is and why a sales pipeline is important, make sure you are implementing these tips to manage it well for your company’s success.

Make sure you're being happy and helpful, human along the way and let us know how you are using your sales pipeline to impact your companies growth.

About the Expert

George B. Thomas

George B. Thomas is an Inbound Marketing Marketer, Video Jedi and HubSpot Certified Trainer with more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience. He leads the Impulse Creative crew in HubSpot certifications with 19 including Inbound, Email, Contextual, and Content Marketing.

George utilizes his love of teaching and learning to help companies find their way to growth via workshops, speaking engagements, business audits, and of course, Sprocket Talk.