The Blueprint for Building a Successful Sales Pipeline

Samir Sampat
|
2023-04-24

The sales pipeline is the heart of any company and an essential tool for both sales reps and prospects alike. Essentially, this gives you a visual representation of the sales process. It lets sales reps know the next steps, provides managers and leaders with valuable insights, and helps with revenue forecasting, long-term growth planning, and creating actionable strategies for success. 

Of course, all this only comes together if you build an effective sales pipeline in the first place. Sometimes also called the sales funnel, this process involves a series of stages that will guide leads through the pipeline and result in higher conversions. The first thing that you need to do is to gather data on things like: 

  • Prospective clients 
  • Sales targets
  • The sales process

It’s also essential to get the entire sales team on board with developing a sales pipeline because they will all have a role in the success of the process and the growth of your company. Therefore, they should have input on how the pipeline works and be involved in its creation. 

Let’s break it down into a blueprint of five simple steps that will guarantee your pipeline is set up for success. 

Step 1: Research your target audience(s)

You can eliminate a lot of potential issues and blind spots in your sales pipeline by doing the appropriate research on target audiences. There are going to be different groups of customers that you can serve based on their pain points and needs. You need a very specific target for each audience here. And while your gut is a great source of insight, you need data for this one. Get valuable information from:

  • Google Analytics
  • Your CRM
  • Sales reps and CSRs 
  • Customer surveys
  • Social media 

These sources will help you identify and further refine your target market so that your sales pipeline starts off strong by bringing in only those leads that are most likely to convert. 

Step 2: Create your ideal buyer persona

Once you’ve collected all the data about the different types of audiences you will reach out to, you’ll want to take that information and create ideal buyer personas. This goes even more in-depth and while it might feel a bit redundant to some, it’s actually a critical part of the sales process. The better you know your “buyer,” the more effective your outreach and marketing efforts will be. 

For example, an Internet marketing company might have buyer personas that look like this:

Marketing managers in SMBs looking for customized outsourced solutions to save money on in-house staff

Entrepreneurs and solo clients starting out in business who need marketing support

Each of these personas is far more specific than the target audiences you came up with above, as you can see. Some even go so far as to give the personas fictional names and personalities, but that’s up to you. Your profile should include where they found your business, what information they need to make a purchase, what they want in terms of content or marketing materials, etc. 

The answers to these will effectively help you create a strong sales pipeline from the start. 

Step 3: Find and drive leads to the pipeline

Now that you know who your target audience is, it’s time to start driving those leads to your funnel. You’ll again have to figure out what works best for your business, but there are several ways that you can help drive leads to your business:

  • Social media
  • Website traffic
  • Lead magnets (a free eBook, guide, etc.)
  • Guest posting
  • Free tools or resources (try before you buy)

You’ll also want to make sure that your website and online presence are optimized for organic search, and that you optimize local SEO if you’re a local business. All this will drive the leads you need and fill that pipeline in no time. 

Step 4: Qualify leads 

This step is one that a lot of teams overlook or skip for one reason or another. However, it’s a critical step that really impacts your pipeline and the leads in it. You are going to generate a lot of leads. Some of them aren’t quite ready to buy. Those should be classified as unqualified leads and set aside for later. That way, your sales team isn’t wasting time on leads that don’t matter yet. Another option is to outsource your sales outreach and have them help qualify the leads while your sales team spends more time closing the deal.

Step 5: Complete the conversion 

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve got an audience of leads that are interested and about ready to make their decision. It’s time for the final push. To ensure better conversions:

  • Use video content to attract, inform, and convert
  • Keep sales pages and landing pages simple
  • Test multiple CTAs (calls-to-action) 
  • Make it simple to convert 

Making it simple means transparent pricing, easy purchases, and a checkout process that doesn’t take days and tons of hoops to jump through. This is the final step in the blueprint to sales pipeline success, and it is the final push your leads need. Make sure that you do it right. 

Don’t forget to keep it scalable

When creating a blueprint for your sales process and pipeline, you need to make sure that it’s flexible and scalable. A rigid process that can’t grow with your business means that you’ll need to revisit your pipeline and restructure it more often than necessary. It’s a good idea to test each step in the pipeline and make sure they’re working as they should and see if there’s room for improvement in terms of scalability and future growth. 

You should also take advantage of automation for things like email follow-up, data entry, and sending leads to the sales reps. This frees up more time so that your team can focus on strategy and securing those customers. 

When you do it right, the leads will come 

Are you ready for the influx of leads that will come from your new, improved sales pipeline? Partner with the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai and while you’re taking care of business, we can take care of every lead by acting as your 24/7 answering service. Plus, we can provide support for lead intake, appointment scheduling, and even your outreach campaigns. To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to hello@smith.ai.

Tags:
Sales Development
Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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