How an Effective Pipeline can Increase Revenue Growth by 28%
Your sales pipeline encompasses every stage in your sales cycle – a visual representation of your sales prospects and where they are in the buying process, covering every action from initial contact through to closing. If set up and followed correctly, a pipeline can result in significant revenue growth, according to a new study by Hubspot.
Though the sales process will differ from company to company, the basic steps for building a solid pipeline remain the same:
- Define the stages of your sales cycle
- Determine how many opportunities typically move on to the next stage of the cycle
- Calculate how many opportunities you’ll need at every stage to reach your revenue goals
- Identify the common characteristics of opportunities that convert at each stage of the cycle – including rep actions and prospect responses
- Create or adapt your sales process around these numbers
The first step to building a successful pipeline is determining the stages of your sales cycle, which should mirror the typical buying process prospects go through. While the quickest way to do this is usually to copy a template, the most effective way is develop your own. Especially when marketing to C-Suite executives, special care must be taken to ensure that your sales cycle matches the process they would typically go through.
The typical buying process takes prospects through:
- Awareness – realizing a pain point or opportunity
- Consideration – developing their evaluation criteria and needs and researching potential approaches
- Decision – finalizing their strategy and comparing solutions
Once you have an idea of your buyer’s journey, you can determine the stages of your sales cycle, which may be something along the lines of:
- Initial connection: the prospect engages with your company – opening an email, attending a webinar, or downloading content from the website
- Setting an appointment: the prospect agrees to a meeting to learn more about your product or service
- Completed appointment: the meeting went well and you have confirmed the next steps
- Proposing a solution: the prospect is interested in your product or service
- Sending a proposal: the prospect reviews the proposal or contract
A more complex product or service will result in a longer sales cycle, potentially with more stages, including further education.
Why You Need a Pipeline
Unlike a sales funnel, which is just a theoretical depiction of the buyer’s journey, a sales pipeline defines the specific actions that should be taken at each point in the journey to ensure higher conversion from leads to sales.
If set up correctly, your pipeline can also highlight opportunities that you expect to close and when you will close them.
Knowing which actions to take at each point in the buyer’s journey is vitally for important for improving close rates, and, in a survey of 60 large B2B companies conducted by Hubspot, *companies that master pipeline management see 28% higher revenue growth. Companies that had clearly defined sales processes with defined sales stages had 18% greater revenue growth than those that didn’t.