The Ultimate Guide to Filling Your Sales Pipeline: The Six Crucial Stages of a Sales Pipeline

Sales Beacon has had the pleasure of working with some of the best sales people on the planet in some of the largest enterprise sales pursuits for over a decade. We’ve also seen why they struggle. This series encapsulates what we’ve learned.

An effective sales pipeline doesn’t have to be complicated.

An effective sales pipeline doesn’t have to be complicated, in fact the opposite is true. At Sales Beacon, we’ve watched most enterprise sales team boil down a solid, sustainable sales pipeline into six simple stages. Use these steps as a framework for your own sales pipeline and watch your leads and sales go through the roof!

First Contact

You can’t make a sale to someone you don’t know exists. Generating leads is the first key step in filling your pipeline. You’ve got to use all the methods at your disposal, which may or may not include:

Once you’ve collected these contacts, it’s imperative to gather as much information about them as possible. The more you learn about potential clients, the better you’ll understand their problems and what is likely to get their attention. Keep organized; careful record-keeping and CRM software will keep you from over or underplaying your hand during pipeline prospecting.

shutterstock_243552382Qualification

Once you’ve got your leads, they need to be fully qualified. This means deciding which leads are the most likely to lead to a meaningful sale. Qualifying can be done through an automated email or a simple questionnaire. Answering the following questions can help to identify the most promising leads:

 

  • Are they actively looking for solutions?
  • Do they seem eager to learn more?
  • Do the seem to be just browsing?
  • Are they asking penetrating questions?
  • Disqualify the bad leads and move on to the next step in your sales pipeline.
The Meeting

Time to meet one-on one with your potential client. This can happen in person (ideally), or by phone or video call. More than likely, you’ll need several meetings, so be prepared to listen and be patient. Other blogs in this series deal with listening and questioning techniques.

More than likely, you’ll need several meetings, so be prepared to listen and be patient.

If you’ve qualified them properly, you’ll know that they’re serious – you should be too.

The Demo

That means a strong demo tailored to fit their company’s needs. Be prepared to explain

  • exactly how you will help them (in detail)
  • what time frame and costs will be involved
  • why your solution is better than that of your competition

This is also when you should negotiate those discounts or conditions that will help make the deal. Remember, a strong and long-lasting deal is one that benefits both parties.

The Proposal

You’ve now met your fully qualified prospect, you have a complete understanding of their needs and the ROI of your solution, especially vs other possible solutions they’ve tried. A written proposal has been sent to the prospect or is at least being worked on. Now’s the time to check with your customer to see if they have any questions or concerns.

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The Close

Once the prospective client has the proposal, be persistent and keep following up. Often many follow-ups will eventually lead to a sale. The client will see how hard you work to get their business and will appreciate having such a diligent problem-solver in their camp. Get that proposal signed and start helping your new partner!

Following these six stages of a sales pipeline for a good, mutually advantageous sale and the beginning of a solid working relationship. We at Sales Beacon would love to hear from you if you need help working the stages or if you simply want to share an example from your own sales pursuits. Contact us anytime at info@salesbeacon.com.