In today's age of digital communication, where the previously linear buying process has become more complex in part due to increasingly demanding, volatile and autonomous buyers, having the right tools is essential. To turn a lead into a paying customer, you need to manage business opportunities masterfully, and the sales pipeline, integrated with CRM software, is a powerful tool to boost sales.
What is the sales pipeline?
The sales pipeline is a strategic sales tool aimed at optimising sales management operations. It widely lauded for its notable impact on sales and other KPIs.
The sales pipeline is a sort of snapshot of the sales process, step by step, to show you exactly where you are in it. Each step can be associated with a probability, allowing you to easily track business opportunities (and filter them) by degree of plausibility, in order to create a sales forecast.
The sales team can thus visualise their business opportunities and generate a turnover forecast during all phases of the sales process, from the initiation of contact to full conversion to a customer.
Usually represented visually in a CRM platform, the sales pipeline is a valuable aid to managing your business portfolio.
What is the purpose of the pipeline for a sales organisation?
First and foremost, the pipeline allows you to evaluate sales overall and anticipate different stages of the sales process by analysing sales KPIs (e.g., current business opportunities).
If, for example, the number of qualified leads is too low, the whole process could be undermined. Similarly, if the number of visits to your website is not sufficient, the business opportunities will be reduced.
As each stage has a probability of completion, CRM software makes you more agile in considering turnover based on the new prospects to be processed. You can then evaluate the desired volume of accounts to prospect in order to achieve your objectives.
This makes it easier for the sales manager to analyse any problems and, if necessary to correct the situation via different mechanisms. These mechanisms can be organisational (for example, new prospecting sectors), sales/marketing (reworking the product and/or service offered, prices, etc.), or fall under human resources (evaluation of the skills of sales staff, training, etc.).
Sales pipeline and sales forecasting
It is important not to confuse these two notions: the pipeline includes all the business opportunities pursued by the sales team at each stage of the sales process, and forecasts predict the volume of opportunities likely to be realised during a given period.
Pipelines and forecasts therefore have different objectives. Salespeople need sales pipelines to monitor the progress of their leads throughout the sales process, in order to make the right decisions and be consistent in their actions. On the other hand, they will rely on sales forecasts to see if they are close to their goals or not and, if not, how to achieve them.
To be more effective and thus more profitable, mastering the sales pipeline is a major asset. It allows you to be prepared for anything that may arise by visualising the sales process in real time. A good sales pipeline is undoubtedly the key to efficient management and to improving your productivity through concrete monitoring of the sales actions carried out.