A customer pipeline is a sequence of steps in a sale process that converts leads into clients. Many firms use a customer pipeline management to enhance sales and better identify potential clients, so they can blast sales rates higher.
Let’s keep it simple and straightforward: a pipeline management in sales is all potential deals you’re working on, from origination and through the sales cycle until the close.
The better your pipeline is, the more clients you will add to your business. So, how do you make an effective sales pipeline?
The value of the sales pipeline management
Fitness businesses can capture opportunities, customers, and sales all at the same time with a customer pipeline and easily know what the next steps should be to close a sale.
Furthermore, pipelines are a critical tool for business managers that allows them to determine how well the sales process is operating. This system is vital for understanding the sales process; marketing managers may follow salespeople’s actions and determine which activities generate the most profits for the business using pipeline data.
When managers look at the sales pipeline, it is easier for them to anticipate predicted income based on the number of deals the salesperson intends to close in a week, month, or year, as well as the amount of customer conversion expected in the near future.
The stages of a pipeline management in sales
Complete approaches to managing pipeline vary from business to business, which means your sales pipeline management doesn’t need to exactly follow others. It must, however, be organized.
When we zoom in on the anatomy of managing a sales pipeline, we can see that it is made up of multiple stages that occur in a specific sequence. A customer pipeline is generally broken down into five stages:
There could be extra milestones or stages associated with your cycle, such as a retention stage in an innovative pipeline management structure, but these five are a good place to start understanding how these structures work.
The first step of any customer pipeline is prospecting, which is a hunt for your potential leads. Every business has a different way of finding potential customers, depending on the target audience, product being presented, and structure of the organization.
Traditionally, the search for new customers comes from existing customers, personal networks, and networking events. As digital marketing has evolved, businesses have begun to multiply their prospects by applying technology such as telesales, ads campaigns on search engines, social media, or affiliates.
Not all data collected from the search is valuable. Your primary focus is hot leads, or people who have a buying demand. Their ability to close a deal is much higher.
The qualification stage allows you to find out how relevant the customer is to your target customer through evaluating past interactions, and to accurately identify a potential customer.
In this stage, your salesperson or marketer will have their first contact with potential customers who passed the qualification process. Sales staff can contact potential customers through calls, emails, social networks, messages, or any appropriate channel.
The goal of this stage is to make a good first impression. Therefore, it requires thorough preparation. At the contact step in the customer pipeline, your staff needs to skillfully present the products/services they sell to make customers see that the product is suitable to solve their needs.
It’s not easy to sell products/services right away; customers may take days to learn and consider. In this case, negotiating is building good relationships with customers.
In order to persuade customers, consulting and customer service employees must directly address their psychology, which requires skill. Employees in consulting and sales need flexibility, communication skills, and presentation expertise to impress clients.
The next stage in the customer pipeline is concluding, which means closing the deal or finalizing. But it’s crucial to recognize that closing a deal could be a close-won or close-lost position.
The best scenario is that you earn the customer’s trust and they choose to purchase the services. Now you can quote prices and proceed to payment.
And the worst scenario? Customers walk away.
Your customer pipeline is completed no matter what happens.
In theory, closing a sale is the final step of a sales process; nevertheless, for customers to return to purchase or become loyal customers, the cycle must be extended with after-sales customer follow-ups.
This way, even if you can’t win your customer at this point, there are still opportunities to win them back or switch to new leads.
When to advance a deal
Businesses now have more options to boost revenue thanks to consultants with persuasive abilities, marketing strategies that direct clients to each product, and growth in the number of high-quality products.
When the consumer is happy with the product, you must move quickly to close the deal and make payment in order to complete the process. This decreases the chance that your customer will change their mind and the work of your pipeline will be lost.
Businesses can increase closure rates by using preferential rules and limited-time incentives.
Automating the creation of a pipeline management in sales
You need to manage your sales process to make sure that your sales teams can take care of customers well and close deals.
The most efficient technique to do this is to use automated management software. This allows you to automate the more monotonous and time-consuming administrative tasks and easily check on the status of all your deals across the whole process.
Depending on the business model you operate under, automated software can help make sales processes that are either standard or flexible.
Beyond this, at each stage of the sales funnel, salespeople can accurately manage the success/failure rate of each customer and evaluate the potential level of each target customer. Managers can easily look at the conversion funnel to estimate how much money they can make in a given amount of time.
With the software’s real-time report, your business can standardize the lead processing system and keep track of how many potentials are turned into active leads.
Automation also helps employees stay up-to-date on the reasons why conversions don’t work, so they can find ways to fix problems and improve lead conversion rates.
By automating manual tasks like sending emails, managing calls, and moving customers through each stage of the sales funnel, CRM systems help businesses shorten the sales cycle, help employees close deals more quickly, and help your company increase its productivity.
If you aren’t using sales pipeline automation, it is time to start. There are great options out there, so get going on your sales pipeline program today!