What Is a Sales Pipeline and How Do I Build One?

Behm Consulting | 27 September, 2018 | Sales

Although the term ‘sales pipeline’ may sound intimidating, it’s a process that any entrepreneur should be implementing in their business.

Using a specific process like a sales pipeline can prove to be extremely beneficial in the long run for small business owners of all kinds.

What Exactly Is a Sales Pipeline?

A sales pipeline is essentially a visual representation of your sales process from beginning to end. This includes everything from pursuing a lead to presenting your product or service, and then ultimately making the sale. Sales pipelines are sometimes confused with sales funnels, but the two should not be used interchangeably. A sales funnel is more focused on the numbers, while a sales pipeline is all about the process.

There’s no right or wrong way to build a sales pipeline. Yours may look different from someone else’s pipeline, and it may even differ from product to product (or service to service). The important part about sales pipelines is that you build them around your business and understand why each step is crucial to the process.

So, how exactly do you go about building a sales pipeline? Here’s a breakdown of a few important steps to keep in mind when building your business’s sales pipeline.

Outline Each Step

Before you get started, it’s important to map out what your sales process looks like from beginning to end. What is your typical sales cycle? Who is your audience and what is their buyer persona? Determine what needs to be included in your specific sales pipeline in order to create clear direction for your business.

Many sales pipelines are formed around several common steps: Qualification, Engage, Propose, and Close. These exact steps can easily be applied to your sales pipeline and tailored to your business, whether you have an e-commerce store or you’re providing business-to-business services.

Have a Plan

Another important thing to outline before implementing your pipeline is your actual sales goals. What revenue goals are you trying to hit? And in what timeline? To determine how many sales you need to make in order to hit your goals, you can easily work backwards.

Figure out the revenue you want to make and then break it down by individual transactions to figure out the number of sales that need to be made in your designated timeline. Once you have a specific number that you’re working towards, it’s much easier to align the rest of the sales pipeline with this goal.

Make It a Habit

Sales are a daily effort. If you aren’t continuously putting in the work to hit your sales goals, then you likely aren’t giving it the time and attention it needs. Just like with most things in life, when you practice sales again and again, they will eventually become a habit.

It’s no different when it comes to implementing your sales pipeline with every opportunity that comes your way. Your sales pipeline is in place to guide you through the sales process, and the more you utilize it for this part of your business, the better you will become.