A sales pipeline is a visual tool used to track potential customers as they progress through different stages of a company’s sales process. A sales process is a predetermined set of actions that a sales team uses to convert a lead into a closed deal.
A good CRM will have the tools to create, manage and measure sales pipelines.
In this example, our fictitious glazing company, Glazemasters, provides residential glazing within a 30-mile radius of its business unit. The company uses a simple sales pipeline with five stages.
Glazemasters generates most of its work via its website. Some visitors submit enquiries requesting a callback; others call the office directly. The team records the details of these leads in a CRM and assigns the initial status: Lead in.
A lead progresses to this stage of the pipeline once it’s met the business buying criteria. So, does the potential buyer have the means to afford the glazing services? Is the lead’s place of residence within 30 miles of Glazemasters?
After an initial survey of a lead’s property, a glazier evaluates the required materials and labour.
An admin costs up a job and emails a quote to a lead for consideration.
Hooray! A deal is closed when a lead accepts a quote.
A company can have more than one sales pipeline. Different services may require different sales approaches and, therefore, different pipeline stages.
Post-sale teams might also want their own pipeline. Say Glazemasters in the above example wants to track installation and payment, they could create deals that move through another pipeline:
Installation Booked > Installation Complete > Customer Invoiced > Customer Paid
It would be perfectly reasonable for Glazemasters to include these stages in the main pipeline; however, separate pipelines define the concerns between teams: sales can focus on closing, and operations and finance can organise work and payment.
A sales pipeline provides a wealth of information and can answer management questions such as:
A sales pipeline is an essential concept in business, and with a good CRM, you’ll be able to manage and measure your sales process with efficiency and confidence.