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Deep dive to understand the Sales Pipeline

Categories CRM

A ‘pipeline’ meeting is a regular session that a sales rep has to attend. The topic of discussion is usually the number of deals the team has in the pipeline. It simply refers to those deals that are in progress and have a high chance of getting converted into customers very soon. As such, the term pipeline describes the flow of prospects through a set of defined stages. The prospects move through these stages, from being new leads to eventually turning into customers.

Having defined these stages, the Sales managers have to ensure that the number of prospects passing through these stages and reaching the final conversion-point is high as possible. Through effective Sales Pipeline Management, sales managers can intuitively optimize their sales process and predict results with confidence.

While the general structure of the pipeline may vary across the industries and companies, the following are some of the typical stages that you will find in all sales pipelines.

Prospecting

The pipeline usually begins with prospecting, which is about searching for the leads who would be interested in making the purchase. There are various ways the salespeople go about generating the leads. Some of the most common methods include Cold calling, Networking, Online, and offline Advertisements, Content Marketing, Events & Trade Shows, etc. Once the leads are generated, they can be uploaded into the CRM Software for further qualification.

Qualification

This is the second stage where new leads have to be qualified by the sales reps. The process includes the salespeople asking specific questions to these leads to determine if they indeed have the requirement for the offering. The sales reps can also check if the products and services being sold to them are within their budget. Else, the sales reps can disqualify them and prevent spending more resources to convert them into customers. Using the CRM software makes it easy for sales reps to gather and upload more information about the qualified leads. The information gathered in the CRM can then be analyzed to check the leads’ decision making abilities and also assess their financial viability. On the whole, the CRM software makes it much easier to work with the leads and manage them efficiently.

Need Assessment

When the qualified leads enter this stage, the sales personnel have to discuss and identify the exact requirement of the prospect. Based on the information, the sales reps can work on the ideal solution that would best fit the prospect’s needs. Once the right solution is recognized by the prospect, the sales professionals have to figure out how to move the leads further to close the deal.

The CRM tool is again very useful in keeping track of all the discussions with each prospect. As such, the information from the software can be assessed to identify the pain-points of the prospects and keep track of the outcome of every meeting, eventually leading to the finalization of the solution.

Proposal

Again, the information from the CRM comes in handy to build a detailed quote, which clearly defines all the features of the solution that would be provided to the prospect. The proposal would also include the estimate or definite cost each feature and for how long the prospect would get to use it.

Closing

This the last stage when the prospect is given the opportunity to negotiate the details mentioned in the proposal. When the decision is reached on all the factors ranging from the type, duration, and cost of the offering, the contract is signed. The contract would contain all the details ranging from Free trial to product adoption, as well as clearly outlining critical factors such as pricing, terms of use, and service and support guidelines. Finally, the prospect is officially turned into a customer.

In almost every stage of the sales pipeline, the CRM software can be quite useful as it not only helps in collecting and managing the critical information about the prospects but also helps in streamlining the entire process to make it much more efficient.