One quote I remember that my boss told me once when I was working as a sales representative in one organization. He said, “You can reach the closure any deal only if you have proper knowledge about the sales process.” At that time, I was not so curious but now I do understand the importance of knowing the sales process. Before jumping into what sales pipeline is and what are the advantages of the sales pipeline, let me first give you a brief understanding of ‘Sales Process’.
What is the sales process?
What comes in your mind when someone asks you this question? Is it a process which helps you build new customers? If you are of this thought, then yes. You are on the right track. Sales process determine whether your lead will become your customer or not. If I need to dilute it more in order to make our understanding clear, then I would say a flow which starts when you generate any lead and ends when the deal is closed or when the deal is canceled. Hope that the concept of the sales process is now clear since we now need to jump into the stages of the sales process.
Do you know anything about ‘Sales Pipeline’?
Sales pipeline basically is a representation of how sales process work. In general terms, the sales pipeline basically describes the stages in a sales process. You can say it as a graphical representation of a sales process.
Earlier when there was no such sales pipeline, people used to close deals but there was no proper process process because of which there was a collision between different processes followed by different sales representatives. And in order to avoid that collision, there was a need to have a sales pipeline.
Now, that you know what sales pipeline is, let me take you through the stages of the sales process.
There are 4 basic stages which any sales representative follows in some or the other way.
1. Qualification – When you generate any lead, it is necessary for any sales representative to judge whether is a prospective one or not. Calls and emails are basic ways to do so.
2. Meeting – Once you know that a lead is a prospective one, it’s time for you to either meet personally or by any means to know the further in-depth requirement of your customer and to decide whether your prospect will go into the next stage of the sales flow.
3. Proposal – Once you know the lower-comings and limits of your prospect and at the same time also knowing the budget of your prospect, it’s the time for a proposal.
4. Close the deal – This is the final stage that decides whether your prospect will be your customer or not.
Talking about sales pipeline, there are various tools that incorporate the whole sales pipeline to help sales representatives in following a proper sales flow in order to close the deal. Tools like CRM, MS-Excel, etc. in maintaining a proper flow of sales.
Talking about Excel, earlier also when there was no sales pipeline, excel was used. But there were no proper stages which balance the whole sales flow. Manual work is same today also in case of using Excel, but stages have reduced a load of the sales representative to differentiate between the stages.
Now take an example, when there are more than 50 leads and you don’t have a sales pipeline or deal pipeline. A sales representative may faint just by keeping in mind who all were in which stage. Thus, one of the biggest advantages of having a sales pipeline is that it reduced the mental work of a sales representative. Let me also tell you something about CRM since we are talking about sales pipeline since CRM’s have properly inculcated the whole process in it. CRM’s have incorporated the sales process in a way that sales representative just needs to do some drag and drops in order to fulfill their sales targets. In doing so, major problems that many CRM’s may face is user experience. Tools need to be very efficient as well as user-friendly. Better the user experience, more is its use.
Here I would like to conclude my discussion about the sales process and sales pipeline with just a single liner.
“Sales flow is what a sales pipeline show…”