A sales pipeline is a visual representation of the sales process, from the initial contact with a potential customer to the closing of a deal and the ongoing management of the customer relationship. The pipeline is typically depicted as a funnel, with a large number of potential customers at the top, and a smaller number of actual customers at the bottom.
As the potential customers move through the various stages of the sales process, the number of accounts at each stage decreases, reflecting the fact that not all potential customers will become actual customers. By tracking and managing their sales pipeline, businesses can better understand the progress of their sales efforts and identify opportunities for improvement. The following are common stages of a sales pipeline:
A lead is a contact who is viewed as a potential customer. The process of generating leads typically involves research and lead acquisition processes such as advertising. It is often a marketing or sales operations activity.
Lead qualification is a process of filtering out leads based on factors such as finances, budget, authority, needs and timeline.
An opportunity is a qualified lead who is engaged in conversation with your salespeople.
Needs analysis is a meeting with opportunities to discover their needs and present what you have to offer.
Proposal And Quote
A formal proposal for a deal along with an initial quote.
Negotiation to get to the real price and terms.
Agreement on a deal and receipt of a purchase order.
Win Loss Analysis
A process of learning from each close or lost deal.
Customer Relationship Management
The ongoing process of managing the relationship with the customer such as delivery, customer service, billing and cross-selling. In many cases, each account is assigned a sales representative who is responsible for the customer lifetime value for a portfolio of accounts.