If you happen to work in sales or marketing, you have likely heard the term “pipeline” many times. Are you familiar with its meaning and importance?
I want to introduce this concept to you to make the most out of your selling process.
By simple definition, a sales pipeline is a visual representation of the ideal sales process that each of your clients should go through when first acquiring your product or services. This process usually starts with your engagement platforms (social media, for example) up to the point where you process clients’ payments.
Naturally, the actual process can be quite different from this plan but what matters is how you structure your sales plan and where you will invest time and effort. This “pipeline” or “funnel” aims to help your internal team as well as yourself.
Here are some key components that every pipeline should have to be genuinely optimal and useful:
You need to have a clear sight of your ideal customers and how to engage them. Not all services or products are equal, even if they are quite similar. So you need to understand your customers before planning (Although the pipeline is the perfect place to correct any mistakes).
A clear understanding of how your sales process works is also essential for making the most out of a sales pipeline. It takes a lot more time to sell a house in real estate than to convince a client to buy a new TV set. You need to have a clear, step-by-step understanding of what it takes to get someone to buy.
Revenue and investment can heavily influence how you plan your pipeline and the stages on it. When money is a priority, you may consider cutting whole sections out. Your goals in terms of revenue can also make you lean more towards specific steps rather than others.
One crucial stage that is almost always forgotten is the cold leads. It is quite normal that clients refuse to purchase the first time because they don’t trust you. It can also happen that it is just not the proper time or place. That is why it becomes a priority to keep them around as they might become valuable customers in the future.
Now that we know the core ideas that should be present in every pipeline, we can agree that the ideal basic structure should be: Prospecting, qualifying, contacting, nurturing relationships, and closing.
The last stage can easily connect with the first one when we consider those cold sales we spoke about before. This creates a cycle that can feed itself and run infinitely with the addition of new clients in the first stage.
Here are some essential tips to keep in mind when running that pipeline for the first time:
Don´t be afraid of refining. Make adjustments and changes as you see fit. Find the perfect balance for your clients and team.
Trust your numbers. Pipelines are as efficient as the statistics behind them show them. Some ideas might look good, but you should be prepared to adjust them if they fail,
Never stop updating your pipeline with new tools or practices. Last year we saw how Linktree started as a mere idea and became a staple for the channel. Trends change really fast and you should keep up with them.
Pipelines can be handy tools for any business if used properly. They can help you with your sales, reduce your operational costs, and help your team be more cohesive when making sales.
It is a tremendous amount of work to get it working correctly, but you will see the rewards in no time. I highly recommend you to try some tools to get started. They will save you a lot of time! If you need help, simply get in touch.
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