In sales, marketing, and in business there are many words, phrases, and abbreviations that sound complicated but are useful things you should know about.
A Sales Pipeline is one of those phrases.
So what’s a sales pipeline and why would you need one in sales or business?
Firstly: If you’re in business you ARE in sales. Many people think of a salesman as a shiny-suited rogue in a car showroom (other shiny-suited rogues are available) but you ARE a salesperson if you’re in business.
Your business needs sales to survive so you need to keep those sales coming in.
A sales pipeline helps you to keep bringing in sales and maintaining growth whilst also ensuring you get as many sales as possible from your activity.
A sales pipeline is as a visual way to show your sales process. It shows where all your potential customers are and where they come from and it will show you all that in a simple-to-understand way. A sales pipeline is your sales roadmap if you like.
So let’s look at the key parts of that statement.
A sales pipeline is visual
The thing about sales is, unless you see someone walking out of your door with your product, sales just aren’t very visual. We need to see something to make it tangible and truly understand how it’s working for us.
So a good sales pipeline system will have a dashboard that’s simple to use with a good interface. That way you can physically see where your sales are coming from, going to, and where things are failing and succeeding.
This visual element makes all of your sales, even lost or failing ones – visual and accountable. A good sales pipeline system will also help you to stay focused on all opportunities and help you to avoid forgetting anyone. We know that’s easily done without a strong system in place.
A sales pipeline shows your sales process
Your sales process is simply how you get leads, follow up on those leads, convert them, and then close them.
So here’s a really simple sales process:
• You generate a lead (interested customer) with networking, advertising or some form of campaign.
• You then send them something, or call them, or maybe you visit them.
• Then you record what they need and how your service or product can fulfil that need.
• You then tell them what you plan to do for them, maybe you send a quote to them, or arrange another meeting.
• Then you invoice them.
• Then hopefully you close them.
Your system may vary from this but as many of the sales pipeline experts will tell you – the simpler your sale process is, the better it will work for you.
The aim of your process is to lay out what you consistently do, and when. The aim of your sales pipeline is to map this out so you can make sure you do everything possible to reach that all important ‘close’ section of the sales process.
A sales process shows where all your potential customers are
Every lead you generate could become a potential customer. Every download, every visit, every conversation, link, call or email could possibly lead to something.
But that would get a little confusing. So it’s your job to qualify these leads and then place them into your sales process and sales pipeline.
For example: you may have a conversation with someone who is vegetarian, but you’re a butcher. This conversation is unlikely to go anywhere, so it would be pointless to add them to your sales pipeline.
You’ll qualify your leads with your own rules (and you’ll know these instinctively) to ensure that your sales pipeline is a rich resource of people who could or should buy from you.
A sales pipeline can show you where your leads and sales come from
This is very important. If you’re in business, then not only are you in sales but you’re also in advertising and marketing too. Everything you do from the clothes you wear to the emails you send, promote you and/or your business. You’ll also be creating ads and marketing and even if this is through a third party you’ll want to know what’s working and what isn’t.
Tracking this activity is very important.
A sales pipeline will help you only see where all your customers and leads come from but also help you improve it, change it or repeat it. When you know what works and what doesn’t, you’re really in the sales driving seat!
A sales pipeline is a really simple-to-understand and visual way to see how your sales are coming on, where they’re coming from and how you can get more.
One thing we mentioned earlier is that it’s easy to forget potential customers. It’s really very simple to get caught up in your busy world and move onto the next thing.
A sales pipeline will not only help you log the leads or potential sales but it will remind you and your team to follow up and make sure you stick to your sales process and ultimately never forget anyone you class as a potential lead.
A good sales pipeline will also help you make sure that your sales processes work, too!
If you need any help making your sales pipeline work for you or if you need one to get started on then give one of the team a shout right here. We’d be happy to set you up and get you on your way.