Why your Business Needs a Sales Pipeline

Do you know what your sales team is working on? No.
Do you want your sales team to win more opportunities? Yes.

If you answered no to the first question or yes to the second, your company and sales team could benefit from using a sales pipeline.

Any sales team could benefit from using a sales pipeline to track their Opportunities.


What is a Sales Pipeline?

A sales pipeline is a collection of Opportunities that are categorized by stages that align with your sales process.


Visual Example of a Sales Pipeline:

Owner Customer Opportunity Description Stage Status Amount
ExxonMobil Bechtel Unit Expansion 2019 Closed Closed-Won 80,000
Valero Valero Maintenance Contract 2020 Qualification Open 400,000
Tiga Salsbury Pipe Fabrication for New Unit Proposal Open 50,000

What is an Opportunity?

An Opportunity is a lead that has been qualified and your company has the potential to win a customer’s business. Opportunities are broken down to the project, service being provided, or order taking place at a given time.


Examples of Opportunities:

  • Motiva Turnaround 2019
  • Paint 10 Tanks for Valero
  • Purchase of 100 ten-foot Scaffold Legs by Apache Industrial


Now that we are on the same page, let’s jump into the Benefits of having a sales pipeline.


1. Measure and Improve Sales Performance

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” – Peter Drucker

The quote says it all. Capture the data needed to measure your sales team. Opportunity name, customer, amount, stage, status, priority, etc. Compare your data week to week, month to month, and/or year to year and see if your team is improving. You can use this data to set goals to motivate salespeople and inform them what you expect from them.

Sales Manager: "This year as a team, we have a closed-won amount of $300,000. We need to sell $200,000 more to meet our goal for this year. Keep up the good work."

or

Sales Manager: "I would like to see everyone have 10 open opportunities they are actively working."


Metrics I recommend:

  • Win-Loss Ratio
  • Count and Amount of Opportunities
  • Dollar Amount by Sales Stage (a.k.a. Sales Funnel)

Tell me what metrics you like to use in the comments below.


2. Visibility into Sales Team Opportunities

Salespeople get credit for the work they are doing, and Sales Managers stay informed as to what his/her group is doing. Win - Win.

You will be able to see what opportunities each salesperson is pursuing. No more having to call meetings or call directly on each salesperson to see what customers they are going after.

With visibility, comes the potential for coaching moments. You can help the salespeople with their priorities, opportunities that are stagnant (not moving stages), etc. and be able to offer them help.

Sales Manager: "I see that Opportunity X has been in the Qualified stage for 3 months now. Do you need help finding the Decision Maker with this customer? The plant manager is a family friend of mine and I could reach out to him and see if he can advance this opportunity for us."

or

Sales Manager: "I see your top opportunity is with customer A. The CEO wants us to focus on company B, so make them your top priority."

The salesperson, sales team, and business benefit from coaching moments.


3. Reinforce the Sales Process

Why your Business Needs a Sales Pipeline Sales Stages A sales pipeline categorizes opportunities by their stages. These stages tell you at what point the opportunity is in the sales process. Stages are listed in order and can walk any salesperson directly through the sales process. Examples of some of these stages are “Prospecting”, “Qualification”, “Proposal”, and “Closed-Won”.

FYI… you can add or rename stages to fit your business’s Sales Process.

Stages can answer the question “What do I do next?”. I believe that is why they are displayed across the top of the opportunity page in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. (We will talk about CRMs later.)


4. Sales Data Insights

The sales pipeline will provide data that you can make decisions off.

Examples of Possible Insights:

Sales Manager: "We have lost the last 5 opportunities with company A. Let’s move company A to a lower priority and focus more on company B."

or

Sales Manager: "Did we sell Valero on our Painting Services last year? This year, we should sell our Scaffolding services because it pairs well with our painting service."

or

Sales Manager: "We have no opportunities for Permian Basin projects. We need to hire a salesperson in this area to cover this territory."

With the insights you gain and the decisions you make from your sales pipeline data, your sales team can impact revenue and increase the percentage of winning more work.


5. Forecasting

“Sales pipelines give estimates of how much business your salespeople expect to close in a given week, month, or year. In turn, you can use a pipeline to estimate how much revenue is coming into your business, and when.” -Salesforce

When upper management comes asking "Are we going to make the numbers this year?" You can respond with a forecast backed up by your sales pipeline data. Something along the lines of:

Sales Manager: "We have won $30,000 in opportunities each month. If we keep this trend going, we will make this year's quota."


How do I Start a Sales Pipeline?

You can create your own spreadsheet, database, or web application, or you could use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software like Salesforce, Zoho CRM, Microsoft Dynamics 365, or HubSpot CRM.

One major benefit of using a CRM is you can get up and running quickly. I recommend using a CRM software solution.

If you need help, let me know in the comments below or via email.




About Stryker Stinnette

Stryker has worked with multiple CRM platforms over the past 8 plus years. As a member of the Business Development Team, Stryker has been involved in and lead multiple CRM Implementations. He has worked with companies who had sales pipelines and ones without.
Stryker Stinnette’s Website.