How to Build a Sales Pipeline for Sales Success

How do you stay on top of things when you have several leads at different points in the sales process? Many sales and marketing teams contend with different tasks to complete in order to bring prospects over the line but they lack organisation and it becomes impossible to keep track of their sales.

A sales pipeline is the solution to these headaches. Simply put, a sales pipeline is a graphical representation of the sales process. It shows you what stages you are at with different clients. So how do you build a sales pipeline that works?



Start with a Database


This is the starting point to build a sales pipeline. A range of different sized prospects is key as some will take longer to convert than others. If you don’t already have a database, here are some ways to begin building one:


  • Create a club with membership only discounts, offers etc.
  • Offer something free in return for a subscription
  • Sell something low cost upfront to gain a customer
  • Use an in-store display to capture customer details
  • Connect with customers on Facebook
  • Use flyer drops with an incentive
  • Place webforms on your site to collect data



Map out the Pipeline 


The next step to build a sales pipeline is to map out what stages should be included in your pipeline. It could look something like this:


  1. New opportunity
  2. Qualified
  3. Taken trial/ Demo
  4. Proposal
  5. Closing


This will of course be dependent on your own product, service or company so design something that works for you.




Decide on the Numbers


How many deals do you need to be in the pipeline at any one time in order to meet your target? Remember that you will not win every deal you enter into your pipeline. Look back on your past success rate and predict how many deals you are likely to win and how many you are likely to lose and at which stage. Also, consider the value of each lead as this will be a factor in deciding how many prospects you need in your pipeline.



Identify Variables


There are different variables that will need to be accounted for later in the pipeline, from stage to stage. This could be getting your meeting budget approved, for example, at the meeting set stage. These variables can hasten or slow down moving along the pipeline. Note them and make allowances for them.




Organise Your Tasks


In any given day, you’ll be handling various prospects and different stages of the pipeline so it’s important to be organised.


You should know what prospects you’re going to be focusing on and on which day. Your CRM system can help you with this, with the ability to set automatic tasks and reminders to follow up with your prospects.


Tailor your routine to support the pipeline and utilise tasks and reminders to ensure no prospect falls through the net.





Keep reviewing your pipeline for effectiveness and efficiency. If you need to merge two stages, or split a stage, do it. Remember, each prospect is unique and your pipeline must serve the prospect’s needs.



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