How to Create a Sales PipelineHow to Create a Sales PipelineI have been out and about speaking to sales people and business owners and whilst for many, business is great right now, some are saying that they haven’t got a pipeline for the future. Most would agree that it is important to have a good pipeline. However, many don’t seem certain how to go about creating a pipeline, or indeed how to maintain one.As such, I thought I would share my thoughts on how to generate and maintain a sales pipeline.What is a sales pipeline?A sales pipeline is a sequence of steps or actions that a business owner or sales person needs to take in order to progress a prospect from being an opportunity to becoming a customer. Once you have completed one stage of your pipeline, you can then move the prospect on to the next stage until you have (hopefully) won the business.Why is a sales pipeline important?A sales pipelines allows you to track the status of every stage of your sales cycle. It is useful for forecasting, as you can predict (with a certain degree of accuracy) when a prospect becomes a sale. That allows you visibility over your sales targets and whether or not you are on course to hit them.It can also be used to highlight potential training issues, as you can see at what stage sales are getting stuck and thus what areas need to improve. How do you create a sales pipeline?You build a pipeline by creating your sales steps from prospecting to closed sale.Stages may includeNew opportunity Establish if the prospect has a need, a budget, timescale etcQualification/ Meeting Fact finding to discuss specific projects and solutionsProposalSend a quote giving details of the solution that will be provided, cost, timescale etcSale Prospect becomes a customerBuild a relationship Establish other opportunities to upsell, cross sell or become an advocateIt’s important to ensure that your sales stages mirror the buying stages of your prospects and customers. This will allow you to estimate timescales and know what’s likely to come off. Some buying decisions are made quicker than others, so it helps to have a good understanding of your customers and how they like to buy.Know your numbersWhen managing or maintaining your pipeline, knowing your numbers really helps. If you know how many sales you win on average (quotes / sales ratio), you can then quickly calculate the number of deals you need within the pipeline, maybe even within each of the stages. Put simply, knowing your numbers allows you to quickly see where you are with regard to achieving your targets.Manage the StagesOnce you have your sales pipeline set up, make sure you put each contact in the appropriate stage. It’s also a good idea to make a note of any conversations, anticipated time scales etc and ensure you diarise a date for the next stage so you don’t miss out on any deals. A good CRM is an ideal way of keeping details of each record and the stage at which the prospect is. Set daily / weekly targets on the number of new contacts you need to make, the number of proposals you need to send and the number of sales you need to close.In SummaryStart by setting up your stagesKeep notes and move your deals from one stage to the nextAlways review your numbers and set daily / weekly targetsMake sure your pipeline remains topped upAbove all take the required action to help you meet your targets and create a successful businessI hope you have found this useful. If you would like any help generating a pipeline for your business, ask us about our various marketing packages.