Sales pipeline – Earn more sales

Sales pipeline - Earn more sales

Proper sales pipeline management is one of the most important ways to convert more leads into actual buyers, thereby increasing your sales. Studies show that companies with clearly defined sales processes and visual sales pipelines are more successful in sales than companies without clear guidelines. So what is behind the term sales pipeline?

What is a sales pipeline?

The sales pipeline is the primarily visual representation of all stages of the sales process, from the first contact to the closing of the purchase. It can be different for each company. Visualization helps keep tabs on where a customer is currently in the customer journey and take the right action at the right time. This makes it possible to plan and control the sales process more effectively.

What is the difference between a sales pipeline and a sales funnel?

While the sales pipeline refers to the actions taken by the sales force to close a deal, the sales funnel represents the quantity and conversion rates of leads. Sales funnel numbers show the percentage of leads that progress to the next phase of sales. treat. Assessing these numbers is essential for sales forecasts.

What is a lead?

A lead is a marketing and sales term. This is a qualified new business contact who is interested in a product or service and voluntarily provides their contact information to continue the conversation. These business contacts initiate communication with a company themselves.

Sales pipeline stages

The phases of the sales pipeline differ by company, industry, product, and sales strategy, but are always based on the customer journey model or the AIDA model.

The customer journey model distinguishes five phases:

  • Awareness – attention (interest is aroused.)
  • Consideration – obtaining information (interest is specified.)
  • Conversion – conversion or purchase (A purchase decision is made.)
  • Loyalty – Customer Loyalty (The product is used and the customer is satisfied.)
  • Advocacy – Recommendation (Experiences are shared with others.)

The AIDA model, on the other hand, distinguishes four phases

  • Attention – attract attention
  • Interest – generate interest
  • Desire – create desire
  • Action – action or purchase

Based on these models, most sales pipelines have the following phases

1. Prospecting and lead generation

Prospecting is the systematic identification and search for prospects for a product or service that have the potential to become new customers. So you have a problem or need that can be solved with the product and you are very likely to be interested in purchasing.

Lead generation refers to all the measures by which companies try to generate interest in a product or service among potential customers. For example, one marketing method to generate leads is content marketing. Relevant information and content are available for download. Interested persons receive it free of charge if they deposit their details there. It is important that you carefully save the data, for example in a CRM system, so that you can continue to follow the customer journey.

2. Nurture and qualify prospects

In the second phase of the sales pipeline, the leads generated must be maintained and further qualified. The goal is to develop a prospect through ongoing contact, content offers and information and turn their interest into genuine purchase intent. For this, it is important to always provide the interested party with relevant information at the right time, depending on the phase of the sales process in which he is currently.

Marketing automation is very useful for nurturing and improving the skills of prospects. It allows the creation, management and execution of personalized and automated marketing campaigns. Marketing automation uses collected customer data and triggers predefined processes consisting of different marketing measures. This allows you to run large campaigns in a scalable way while saving resources through automation.

3. Quote phase

If a prospect is qualified enough to be genuinely interested in purchasing the product or service, an appropriate offer will be made to them. It is important to show how customer challenges and needs are solved or met by your product.

4. Negotiation phase

The offer can be adjusted again during the negotiation phase. Note that for a long-term customer relationship, you and the customer must be happy with the offer made.

5.Deal

In the final phase of the sales pipeline, the offer is signed and the deal closes. In the best-case scenario, the new customer becomes an advocate for your business and your products.

6. Retention phase

Even after a successful transaction, there are a few more steps you need to take to establish a stable customer relationship, exploit cross-sell and up-sell potential, and provide the customer with an optimal customer journey.

Benefits of creating a sales pipeline

Keep track of your progress

Sales pipelines help you accurately track prospects and their readiness to buy. You can better manage your time by focusing on qualified leads who are at the right stage of the process.

The sales pipeline allows you to determine if any stages are still missing in your customer journey and which measures are working particularly well or less well. Thanks to clear structures and processes, each salesperson knows when to do what and can gradually follow the predefined steps.

Shorten your sales cycle

With the visual sales pipeline, you always know where a prospect is in the process and what needs to be done next. This allows you to better plan and use resources.

Easier tracking of sales team progress

You’ll get a visual representation of your team’s performance and the actions you need to take to close more deals. You can see exactly at what stage customers are dropping out and where there is potential for optimization in the customer journey.

Focus on the right customers and increase your sales

A pipeline makes it easier for you to identify leads that need more attention, so you don’t waste time with those who have already been contacted and aren’t interested in your offer.

What is Sales Pipeline Management?

Sales pipeline management refers to the maintenance and administration of the sales pipeline. For successful sales pipeline management, you should use the following strategies and tools:

  • Collect your data with care and clarity. CRM software is best suited for this. In CRM solutions, you can not only collect stored data, but also filter, structure, group and evaluate it. Another advantage is that you do not have to enter contact data manually via interfaces, but can also import it quickly and easily from contact forms on the website or in social networks, as well as from email signatures. This not only saves time, but also minimizes the risk of errors when entering data. Additionally, the system automatically checks data for duplicates, so contacts do not appear more than once in your data record.
  • Define important company objectives and key figures (KPIs), such as sales targets. You can include the achievement of company goals in your sales strategy and track and evaluate them in the CRM.
  • From there, derive sales targets and KPIs for sales. For example, how many purchases are at least needed to reach sales targets. You can also track and analyze these KPIs in a CRM solution and place them in different contexts. For example, you can compare numbers from previous years. The visual representations in the CRM also allow you to always keep an eye on key figures and to be able to react quickly to changes.
All key figures at a glance on the sales dashboard
  • Define the sales process and map it as a sales pipeline. This visually represents the different stages. Additionally, you can store checklists in a CRM with precise metrics for the different phases of the sales pipeline. Only when all tasks are completed does a client reach the next phase. This way, everyone involved knows what task needs to be done and when to close a successful deal.
Sales pipeline and checklists
  • Keep in mind that markets and customer needs are dynamically changing. That’s why you should also regularly check and optimize your sales pipeline and KPIs.

Close deals and increase sales with sales pipeline management

Presenting the stages of the sales process as a sales pipeline and defining precise stages creates certainty and measurability for sales staff. Everyone involved knows exactly what tasks need to be done at what point in the customer journey. A CRM facilitates the monitoring and documentation of the various stages. This not only leads to more efficiency, but also to the optimal use of resources in the sales process and to an increase in your sales.

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