What is a Sales Pipeline? How do I Build an Unbeatable One? (2023)

Now that we’ve established the default stages, it’s time to build your own pipeline.

If you’re so detailed, you might find that you guide your prospects through 15-20 or even more steps before they buy.

A sales pipeline with that number of steps will however not be very usable. And the value of a sales pipeline stands or falls with whether you use it or not.

That’s why you should try keeping the number of stages in your sales pipeline limited to 7-10 stages. You can note the stages you omitted as tasks that you need to complete to reach the next stage.

Ready? Time to configure and customize your sales pipeline in your CRM’s Settings.

You might find that different products or different customer segments require moving the sales opportunity through a different set of stages.

If these differences are significant, it might be wise to create a separate pipeline in your CRM. Otherwise you’ll be trying to move (part of your) opportunities through a wrong set of stages.

Creating an extra pipeline can also be handy in case you want to separate pipeline overviews per department or per country. Or if you want to separate sales from account management.

4. How do you successfully manage your sales pipeline?

Now that you’re all set up, let’s start with the real work: managing that sales pipeline. 💪

While we’ve talked mostly about building the sales pipeline itself, actually managing this pipeline requires a few more things than this simple overview alone.

Let’s now dive into what else you’ll need to go above and beyond your sales targets.

Work with a clear tasks system

Every prospect has her own personal needs, wishes and timelines. Every single one of them wants to feel special and cared about, like she’s the only prospect you have.

This might feel daunting when you have tens or even hundreds of sales opportunities in your pipeline. And the absence of a clear system will lead you from the one disappointed prospect to the other. And many lost opportunities… that you probably could have won.

A simple, clear task system can solve this all. ✨

(Video) Sales Tips & Training - How to Build a Sales Pipeline & How it Works Over Time

Two key rules:

  1. Always think next steps. When you complete a task, create the next one immediately.
  2. Stay organized, don’t start freestyling. When you stick to your task list, you stay in control of your sales pipeline. Without it, you’ll lose it.

This task list is best kept together with the rest of your customer data, in your CRM.

To make sure you’ll consistently keep using the tasks functionality of your CRM, it should:

  • Be very easy to use. If it’s too much work, you won’t keep up with it (rule nr. 2).
  • Send you notifications (on your computer & phone) when you need to do something.

Here’s how this for instance looks in Salesflare:

What is a Sales Pipeline? How do I Build an Unbeatable One? (1)

It shows the description of the task, the account/company it is related to, when the task is due, and who is assigned to it (particularly handy when you’re working in a team).

With the buttons on the right, you can easily complete, snooze, assign, edit or dismiss a task.

It’s also handy if you can view these tasks per specific account as well.

What is a Sales Pipeline? How do I Build an Unbeatable One? (2)

You might note the other types of tasks in this screenshot. These are “suggested tasks”: automatic tasks (which you can turn on or off) that help you to:

  • Follow up accounts that go inactive
  • Reply to emails from prospects that you’ve forgotten about
  • Remember to add notes to meetings

“Salesflare’s 10 day inactivity reminder prompts me to not forget about an account.”

Ken Tran, Telemedic

Keep track of your interactions

While it’s good to know what you need to do next, understanding the context and timeline is also critical.

This means knowing:

  • When you’ve emailed with the prospect about what
  • When you had meetings or called them
  • What has been discussed (your notes)
  • Any email or web tracking that shows you when your customers engage with you and what they show interest in

Without a good grip on the overall conversation with your prospect, it’s hard to steer it in the right direction. And nobody wants to be that salesperson who seemingly has forgotten completely about the previous conversation you had. 😅

Here’s how such a timeline can look:

What is a Sales Pipeline? How do I Build an Unbeatable One? (3)

Minutiously keeping a timeline for each customer is of course a lot of work. And there aren’t many salespeople who have the necessary dedication to keep this up.

(Video) The Best Way To Build A Pipeline | Sales Skills | Winning By Design

That’s why Salesflare automatically keeps track of all these interactions by synchronizing emails from your inbox, meetings from your calendar, calls from your phone, … and automatically tracks prospects’ activity across emails and websites. ⚙️

Automate part of your follow-up

Following up a large number of prospects involves a lot of talking to prospects, but also a lot of routine tasks.

This can have an important effect on how you feel as a salesperson (robotic or human?) and can influence how much positive energy you can spend with your prospect, which, in turn, can define how successful you are at selling to them.

That’s why it’s important to automate these routine tasks as much as possible.

Here’s a few pointers to get started:

  • Avoid back-and-forth emails to schedule a meeting. Use a meeting scheduler like Calendly or YouCanBook.me to share a quick link to your calendar.
  • Automate follow-up emails with a CRM (like Salesflare) that supports email automation. Set up triggered emails when prospects reach certain stages, when you give them a certain tag, or just send a mass email to reactivate a list of prospects at once.
  • Use a VOIP dialer on your computer to call customers with one click, straight from your CRM and from other places. Here is a list of VoIP providers.

There’s more automation ideas in this article about automating your sales follow-up.

Keep an eye on your sales pipeline metrics

When you’re all up and running, it’s time to have a look at your metrics.

It will tell you how you are doing, how close you are to reaching your goals, and where you can improve. 💡

If you’re keeping your sales pipeline up to date well, your CRM should give you this data in a few nice dashboards.

First, it will give you an idea of your revenue metrics:

What is a Sales Pipeline? How do I Build an Unbeatable One? (4)

This will answer questions like:

  • How much revenue have I already closed? (the ultimate success measure)
  • What’s the potential revenue I might close? (the current potential in your pipeline)
  • What’s the average length of my sales cycle? (your pipeline’s speed)
  • What’s the average value of my won deals? (the value per opportunity)
  • How many opportunities have I won? (how many signatures you got)
  • How many new opportunities have I created? (keeping your pipeline filled)
  • How does this compare to last period? (are you growing your revenue or not)
  • Which are my top earning accounts? (which customers bring you most revenue)
  • What are my top lead sources? (what channels are bringing you most leads)
  • What are my top lost reasons? (where can you improve to lose less deals)
  • How does my pipeline compare to last period? (how opportunities have moved along)

That’s a lot of insights you can already use to improve your sales process! 🤩

Additionally, it’s good to also have an idea of your team metrics:

What is a Sales Pipeline? How do I Build an Unbeatable One? (5)

This will answer questions like:

(Video) How To Build A Sales Pipeline & Keep it Full of Prospects

  • Which sales rep is most actively selling? What’s the average amount of emails, calls, meetings; in total and per rep? (more input usually correlates with more output)
  • Which sales rep won the most revenue? (your top rep so far)
  • Which sales opportunities is my team abandoning? (red alert! 🆘)
  • What’s my closing percentage; in total and per rep? (your success rate per opportunity)

This will allow you to coach your sales reps based on real data. Or if it’s just you, improve your sales approach yourself. 📈

If you’re interested in doing this right, there’s much more on how to set the right goals and use them effectively in this article on sales quota.

Flush regularly

Nothing renders your sales pipeline overview quite as useless as keeping a lot of dead opportunities in it. It doesn’t only compromise the overview; it can also mean you spend time and energy on opportunities that’ll never convert anymore anyway.

The solution: flush out these dead opportunities on a regular basis. Just close them all as lost. 🚽

Now, how do you easily filter out these opportunities from your pipeline?

You could filter out the opportunities that you started working on a long time ago and that are not in the won or lost stages already.

What is a Sales Pipeline? How do I Build an Unbeatable One? (6)

Or, if you’re using Salesflare, filter out the opportunities that didn’t get any activity in the past few months (and that are not in the won or lost stages already).

What is a Sales Pipeline? How do I Build an Unbeatable One? (7)

Then just apply a bulk action and move them all to the “lost” stage at once.

What is a Sales Pipeline? How do I Build an Unbeatable One? (8)

And… your sales pipeline is sparkling clean again! ✨

5. Talk pipeline like a pro

So, you’re ready to be a pro now, but can you talk pro? 😏

Here’s a few things you can say to sound like you know what you’re doing.

How much pipe(line) are you making?

Or: what’s the total value of new opportunities you are adding to your pipeline?

I’ve got a ton of new SQLs

Or: I’ve just qualified a lot of opportunities, which turned them into Sales Qualified Leads.

(Video) Sales Pipeline Management (Best Practices)

How long is your sales cycle?

Or: how long do your opportunities take on average to get from the start to closing them as won?

What’s your ACV?

ACV means Average Contract Value. It’s the average revenue you derive from a single customer in a given period. If you’re not selling subscriptions, Average Purchase Value (APV) is used.

6. Bonus: a free sales pipeline template

We’ve just been showing you how you can build your pipeline and use a CRM to organize it.

But what if you’re not ready for a CRM?

In this case, we’ve built a handy (and free) sales pipeline template you can use to start tracking your pipeline. 🆓

It’s available for both Excel and Google Sheets. And it’s probably the most powerful yet easy-to-use template you’ll find on the internet.

You can download it here. 👈

It helps you track your pipeline and shows you revenue metrics as well.

If you want to use a clear tasks system, keep track of your interactions, automate a part of your follow-up, and of course much more, a CRM will serve you well.

And if you consider using Salesflare or have any additional questions about sales pipelines, hit us up on the chat! 😃

“Salesflare Improved my bottom line by providing a clear system to work with prospects.”

Boris Agranovich, Global Risk Community

We hope you liked this post. If you did, spread the word!

👉 You can follow @salesflare on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

(Video) Sales Pipeline Management in 4 Minutes - Pipedrive.com

FAQs

What is a sale pipeline? ›

The sales pipeline is a tool for converting leads into sales. It provides sales leaders with a visual representation of the different stages of the sales process (such as when a prospect becomes a qualified lead or when salespeople should follow up with a lead).

How do you build a healthy pipeline in sales? ›

Concentrate your efforts on the most sales-ready, high-value leads, and stay away from anything that won't assist your business. Updating the pipeline regularly also makes a healthy sales pipeline. A sales pipeline changes constantly. New leads are added, moved from one stage to another, and closed deals.

How do you build and manage a sales pipeline? ›

10 best practices to manage your sales pipeline
  1. Remember to follow up. ...
  2. Focus on the best leads. ...
  3. Drop dead leads. ...
  4. Monitor pipeline metrics. ...
  5. Review (and improve) your pipeline processes. ...
  6. Update your pipeline regularly. ...
  7. Keep your sales cycle short. ...
  8. Create a standardized sales process.
16 Aug 2022

What are 3 important stages in pipeline? ›

ARM7 Three-stage pipeline. Fetch loads an instruction from memory. Decode identifies the instruction to be executed. Execute processes the instruction and writes the result back to a register.

What is strong sales pipeline? ›

A strong sales pipeline provides a clear overview of the entire sales process, including steps sales people take throughout the process, customer contacts, key sales stages and the number and value of deals within your business.

What does a healthy sales pipeline look like? ›

Pipeline Shape:

A healthy sales pipeline should look more like a cocktail glass. One that is wide at the top, but that very quickly narrows into a long thin stem that only slightly recedes in width as it makes its way to the bottom.

What is pipeline explain with example? ›

Pipeline system is like the modern day assembly line setup in factories. For. example in a car manufacturing industry, huge assembly lines are setup and at each. point, there are robotic arms to perform a certain task, and then the car moves on. ahead to the next arm.

How do you build a strong pipeline? ›

4 Steps to Building a Sales Pipeline
  1. Identify and narrow down your target buyers. Who is your target customer? ...
  2. Build a targeted list of your most viable prospects. ...
  3. Develop relevant messaging and content for the prospects in your pipeline. ...
  4. Test a variety of demand generation tactics.

How do I keep my sales pipeline full? ›

How to Keep Your Sales Pipeline Full
  1. Always be prospecting. ...
  2. Upsell and cross-sell. ...
  3. Incorporate social selling. ...
  4. Ask for referrals. ...
  5. Know your top customers and focus on them. ...
  6. Automate as many processes as possible.
20 Jul 2021

What are the 5 sales techniques? ›

Here are five selling techniques every salesperson should master.
  • Active Listening. One of the reasons that prospective clients are so wary of salespeople is because they anticipate a pushy demeanor and pressure to purchase a client. ...
  • Warm Calls. ...
  • Features & Benefits. ...
  • Needs & Solutions. ...
  • Social Selling.
11 Nov 2016

What are the 4 sales techniques? ›

This method is valuable when working with highly specialized products or services. Educating the prospect is a part of the sales process with this technique. A salesperson is looking to sell their offering as a full solution to the customers' problem.
...
Solution selling
  • Prepare. ...
  • Prospect. ...
  • Qualify. ...
  • Educate. ...
  • Present. ...
  • Close.

What are the two types of pipelines? ›

Within the energy sector, there are two major types of pipelines, liquids pipelines and natural gas pipelines. Liquid pipelines transport crude oil or natural gas in liquid form to refineries where they undergo distillation and other production processes.

What is the main purpose of pipeline? ›

Pipelines exist for the transport of crude and refined petroleum, fuels – such as oil, natural gas and biofuels – and other fluids including sewage, slurry, water, beer, hot water or steam for shorter distances.

What are the sales pipeline stages? ›

The Seven Main Sales Pipeline Stages
  • Prospecting. Through ads, public relations, and other promotional activities, potential customers discover that your business exists. ...
  • Lead qualification. ...
  • Demo or meeting. ...
  • Proposal. ...
  • Negotiation and commitment. ...
  • Opportunity won. ...
  • Post-purchase.

How do you structure a pipeline? ›

How to Build a Sales Pipeline
  1. Step 1: Design your sales cycle.
  2. Step 2: Identify your ideal customers and target accounts.
  3. Step 3: Find internal contacts at those target accounts.
  4. Step 4: Move qualified leads through the sales cycle.
  5. Step 5: Use a CRM tool to make your sales pipeline more efficient.
11 Jun 2019

What are the three types of pipelines? ›

There are essentially three major types of pipelines along the transportation route: gathering systems, transmission systems, and distribution systems.

What is a pipeline diagram? ›

A pipeline diagram shows the execution of a series of instructions. — The instruction sequence is shown vertically, from top to bottom. — Clock cycles are shown horizontally, from left to right. — Each instruction is divided into its component stages.

What is the most powerful word in sales? ›

The two most powerful words in sales are synergy and priority.
...
For the supplier side of the equation, the salesperson needs to master:
  • Features, functions and benefits of the product(s)
  • Problems they address.
  • Attributes of the ideal client for the product(s)
  • Differentiation aspects of the product(s)
12 Aug 2015

What are the 3 most important aspects of sales? ›

Being successful in sales and learning how to become better at sales boils down to 3 things: empathy, a genuine desire to help, and persistence.
  • Empathy. ...
  • A genuine desire to help. ...
  • Persistence.
19 Mar 2018

How do you increase drastically sales? ›

  1. Be Present With Clients And Prospects. ...
  2. Look At Product-To-Market Fit. ...
  3. Have A Unique Value Proposition. ...
  4. Have Consistent Marketing Strategies. ...
  5. Increase Cart Value And Purchase Frequency. ...
  6. Focus On Existing Customers. ...
  7. Focus On Why Customers Buy. ...
  8. Upsell An Additional Service.
30 Mar 2021

What is the toughest part in sales? ›

But hands down, prospecting has been chosen as creating the most difficulty for reps. In fact, “more than 40% of salespeople say this is the most challenging part of the sales process, followed by closing (35%) and qualifying (22%),” HubSpot explains.

What is the basic sales pipeline? ›

What is a sales pipeline? A sales pipeline is a visual representation of where all of your prospects are in the sales process. This allows you to gauge likely revenue and determine the health of your business. It provides a snapshot of the health of your business.

What causes poor sales performance? ›

Some common causes include a lack of product knowledge, poor customer service, and a lack of motivation. Additionally, poor sales performance can be caused by several factors beyond the control of the salesperson, such as economic conditions or competition from other businesses.

What are the four stages of the pipeline process? ›

A pipelined processor uses a 4-stage instruction pipeline with the following stages: Instruction fetch (IF), Instruction decode (ID), Execute (EX) and Writeback (WB).

What is pipeline technique? ›

Pipelining is a technique for breaking down a sequential process into various sub-operations and executing each sub-operation in its own dedicated segment that runs in parallel with all other segments.

What is pipeline simple words? ›

: a line of pipe with pumps, valves, and control devices for conveying liquids, gases, or finely divided solids.

Why is a sales pipeline important? ›

Why is your sales pipeline important? Having a visible sales pipeline helps a team monitor the progress of their efforts and gives them an accurate picture of what needs to happen to boost the company's revenue. Improving sales results means more money for the company and for the representatives who earn a commission.

What is sale strategy? ›

What is a Sales Strategy? A sales strategy is defined as a documented plan for positioning and selling your product or service to qualified buyers in a way that differentiates your solution from your competitors. Sales strategies are meant to provide clear objectives and guidance to your sales organization.

What are the 4 sales channels? ›

Four Types of Sales Channels Explained. There are a myriad of ways in which you can get your products to market and in front of your ideal customers. In this article, we'll discuss four common types of sales channels: wholesale, retail (both online and in-store), direct-to-consumer (DTC) and B2B.

How do you avoid burnout in sales? ›

10 Tips to Avoid Burnout While Working in Sales
  1. Set Realistic Goals.
  2. Prioritize Your Time and Tasks.
  3. Give More Attention to Quality Accounts.
  4. Reach Out For Help.
  5. Work on Yourself.
  6. Take Time Away to Disconnect.
  7. Exercise Regularly.
  8. Utilize Your Breaks.

How do you finish a strong sales? ›

Finishing Strong: How to Ensure Your Q4 Sales End on a Positive...
  1. Know Where You Stand. ...
  2. Make a Plan. ...
  3. Create Strong Marketing Messages. ...
  4. Put Your Customer First. ...
  5. Encourage Customers to Come Back Often. ...
  6. Host Events That Bring Clients In.

How do you fight burnout in sales? ›

Take these 7 positive steps to combat sales burnout.
  1. Set specific time away from work to disconnect. ...
  2. Make a reasonable plan for each workday. ...
  3. Save energy for bigger or more important tasks. ...
  4. Seek out help and advice. ...
  5. Try stress management techniques. ...
  6. Assess your work and remove unnecessary burdens.
19 Feb 2019

What are the 3 A's in sales? ›

The Three A's of Sales:

Attitude. Approach. Activity.

What are the 5 A's in sales? ›

The 5 A's: Apologize, Acknowledge, Appreciate, Act, Audit. Apologize to the customer: If the customer is calling and they are upset, the first thing you should do is apologize. This doesn't mean you are taking the blame personally or acknowledging that the company, brand or product is at fault.

What are the golden rules of sales? ›

6 Golden Rules For Success in Sales
  • 1 - Call As High As You Can. ...
  • 3 - Sell Aspiration. ...
  • 4 - Recruit a Coach. ...
  • 5 - Always Be Prepared to Walk Away. ...
  • 6 - Talk About Money Early, and Price Late.
15 Aug 2011

What are the 5 C's of sales? ›

In today's market environment, effective selling involves building trust through the use of five C's: conversation, curiosity, collaboration, customization and coaching.

What are the 3 basic selling techniques? ›

  • Product Selling. Product selling is exactly what it sounds like: selling the advantages or features of a specific product or service. ...
  • Solution Selling. Solution selling goes beyond simply selling products or services. ...
  • Insight Selling.
1 Mar 2017

What are the 4 A's in sales? ›

The "four A's" of sales letters are attention, appeal, application, and action.

What are 4 general way to increase sales? ›

increasing your prices. finding new customers. selling more to existing customers. offering sale promotions to boost the volume of sales.

What are the six selling steps? ›

Cultivating relationships are a vital part of the sales process steps
  • Define and refine your book of business. You might think prospecting is the first sales process step. ...
  • Prospecting and outreach. ...
  • Discovery conversations and meetings. ...
  • The sales presentation/demonstration. ...
  • Close the deal. ...
  • Post-sale follow-up.
16 Aug 2021

How do you build a successful pipeline? ›

4 Steps to Building a Sales Pipeline
  1. Identify and narrow down your target buyers. Who is your target customer? ...
  2. Build a targeted list of your most viable prospects. ...
  3. Develop relevant messaging and content for the prospects in your pipeline. ...
  4. Test a variety of demand generation tactics.

What are the 4 most common sales strategies? ›

The four basic sales strategies salespeople use are script-based selling, needs-satisfaction selling, consultative selling, and strategic-partner selling. Different strategies can be used with in different types of relationships.

What are the 5 sales strategies? ›

5 Sales Strategies for Businesses
  • Define your buyer.
  • Tell a story.
  • Target a niche market.
  • Sell your brand.
  • Focus on internal growth.

What are the four stages of pipeline? ›

A pipelined processor uses a 4-stage instruction pipeline with the following stages: Instruction fetch (IF), Instruction decode (ID), Execute (EX) and Writeback (WB).

What are the stages of a sales pipeline? ›

The seven key sales pipeline stages include:
  • Prospecting. Through ads, public relations, and other promotional activities, potential customers discover that your business exists. ...
  • Lead qualification. ...
  • Demo or meeting. ...
  • Proposal. ...
  • Negotiation and commitment. ...
  • Opportunity won. ...
  • Post-purchase.

What are the 3 most important things in sales? ›

Being successful in sales and learning how to become better at sales boils down to 3 things: empathy, a genuine desire to help, and persistence.

What are the 7 steps to making a good sales pitch? ›

7 steps to writing a powerful sales pitch
  1. What's the problem you're solving?
  2. What else is out there that addresses the problem?
  3. What's the perfect world solution for your customer?
  4. Who are you?
  5. What value do you bring?
  6. What's your proof?
  7. What do you want the customer to do?
22 Oct 2022

How can I increase my sales quickly? ›

  1. Be Present With Clients And Prospects. ...
  2. Look At Product-To-Market Fit. ...
  3. Have A Unique Value Proposition. ...
  4. Have Consistent Marketing Strategies. ...
  5. Increase Cart Value And Purchase Frequency. ...
  6. Focus On Existing Customers. ...
  7. Focus On Why Customers Buy. ...
  8. Upsell An Additional Service.
30 Mar 2021

What is a pipeline strategy? ›

A pipeline strategy is a thoughtful plan that guides prospects through each stage your pipeline. In order to build a strategy that fills the pipeline make sure you clearly understand your sales pipeline stages and your ideal target customer.

Videos

1. What is a Sales Funnel? And How To Create One that Actually Makes Money
(Russell Brunson - ClickFunnels)
2. The Right Way To Build A SaaS Sales Pipeline
(Dan Martell)
3. How to Build a Dangerously Effective Sales Funnel
(Gillian Perkins)
4. What is a Sales Funnel and How Do You Create One? 🔥 Explainer and Step-by-Step Building Tutorial
(Solopreneur)
5. Sales pipeline management to help you sell better
(Zoho CRM)
6. Sales Pipeline Management: Best Practices to Boost Revenue
(SalesHacker)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Chrissy Homenick

Last Updated: 03/03/2023

Views: 5962

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (54 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Chrissy Homenick

Birthday: 2001-10-22

Address: 611 Kuhn Oval, Feltonbury, NY 02783-3818

Phone: +96619177651654

Job: Mining Representative

Hobby: amateur radio, Sculling, Knife making, Gardening, Watching movies, Gunsmithing, Video gaming

Introduction: My name is Chrissy Homenick, I am a tender, funny, determined, tender, glorious, fancy, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.