A sales pipeline is a visual representation of your sales process, allowing you to track leads as they progress toward conversion. A study conducted by Vantage Point found that 56% of respondents rated their effectiveness at managing pipelines as poor or neutral.
By implementing a sales pipeline in your current business strategy, you can streamline your sales strategy and increase efficiency. In this blog post, we'll discuss the meaning of a sales pipeline, the types of sales templates, the need to use a sales pipeline template, and various sales pipeline templates suited for your business needs.
What is a Sales Pipeline?
A sales pipeline is a visual representation of the various stages that a sales lead goes through on its way to becoming a customer. It's called a "pipeline" because it's meant to represent the flow of potential sales from start to finish. The stages in a sales pipeline can vary depending on the business, but common ones include lead generation, qualification, proposal, negotiation, and closing.
The purpose of a sales pipeline is to help sales teams track and manage their sales leads in an organized manner. By visualizing the sales process, teams can see at a glance where each lead is in the process and what action needs to be taken next. This helps them prioritize their time and resources, and it can also help identify bottlenecks or areas of the process that may need improvement.
In addition to helping with lead management, a sales pipeline can also be a useful tool for forecasting future sales. By analyzing the data in the pipeline, sales teams can make informed predictions about how many leads are likely to close and how much revenue they can expect to generate.
Overall, a sales pipeline is an essential part of any successful sales strategy. It helps sales teams stay organized, prioritize their time, and make accurate predictions about future sales.
A sales pipeline usually consists of the following sales process -
- Lead qualification
- Demo or meeting
- Negotiation and commitment
- Deal won
Why Do You Need a Sales Pipeline Template?
Are you missing out on potential business opportunities?
It may be because of a disorganized sales process. Without the proper organization of deals, contacts, and activities, managing your sales pipeline can be a struggle.
Implementing a sales pipeline template can help you streamline your sales efforts and stay on track with your goals. It also allows for better monitoring of your sales reps' performance and client interactions. A few benefits of the sales pipeline template are -
#1 They Help Track Leads
A sales pipeline records all sales data and helps sales managers keep their data up to date in an organized way. When multiple new leads trickle down the sales pipeline frequently, a sales pipeline template helps you track potential leads and move them through deal stages seamlessly.
Identify customers with a strong inclination to convert with the information retrieved from your sales pipeline and leads. For instance, if your company sells marketing automation software, you might notice that interested leads go around downloading your ebooks, case studies, or even attend a demo, and help you focus on these leads instead of cold ones.
#2 They Help you Get a Clear View of your Sales Data
With an effective sales pipeline template in place, sales managers can get a clear view of the sales data. A clear view of the sales pipeline can help your team track sales leads, and understand its progress to understand the deal size and stages thoroughly.
Don't let a deal pass through the cracks and identify fresh, in-progress, and won opportunities to identify new business opportunities and build a successful sales process in place.
#3 They Help with Sales Forecasting
By understanding current sales efforts with a CRM and a sales pipeline in place, easily calculate your deals won and forecast sales and revenue based on previous sales performances with the sales pipeline template.
Stay on top of every deal–current deals or closed ones in your sales pipeline to never stay behind any important move.
#4 They Can Help Sales Managers Plan Sales Activities
The number of deals in a sales pipeline often assists sales managers to plan sales activities strategically as opposed to intuitions.
When a company leverages sales pipeline templates across the entire organization, this data can be used to plan sales activities and other promotional activities across the company.
#5 They Help Reduce Sales Cycle Length
A sales pipeline is an effective tool for reducing the length of the sales cycle because it helps businesses to better manage and track the different stages of the sales process. When a business has a clear understanding of where leads are in the sales process, it can take action to move leads through the pipeline more quickly.
Here are a few ways that a sales pipeline can help to reduce the sales cycle length:
- Lead tracking: By tracking leads through the pipeline, businesses can identify which leads are most likely to convert into customers and prioritize their efforts accordingly. This allows them to focus on the most promising leads and move them through the pipeline more quickly.
- Lead qualification: A sales pipeline helps to qualify leads, meaning that businesses can identify leads that are most likely to convert into customers and focus their efforts on those leads. This eliminates the need to spend time on leads that are unlikely to convert, and thus reduces the sales cycle length.
- Bottleneck identification: By tracking leads through the pipeline, businesses can identify bottlenecks that slow down the sales process. Once identified, these bottlenecks can be addressed, which can help to speed up the sales process and reduce the sales cycle length.
- Progress tracking: Sales pipeline helps to keep track of leads and sales rep activities, you will know how much time and effort you put into the leads and can adjust your strategy accordingly. This can help to identify where the sales process is taking too long and take action to speed it up.
Overall, by providing a clear view of the sales process, a sales pipeline allows businesses to identify areas where they can improve the process and reduce the sales cycle length.
What are the Types of Sales Pipeline Templates?
Typically, a sales pipeline template is created using google sheets or a CRM with interactive dashboards.
There are a few key differences between using a spreadsheet as a sales pipeline template and using an interactive dashboard built into a CRM platform:
- Data organization: Spreadsheets can become cluttered and difficult to navigate as the number of leads and deals increase. On the other hand, CRM platforms are designed to organize and store large amounts of data, making it easier to track leads and deals and quickly access the information you need.
- Data input: Spreadsheets require manual data entry, which can be time-consuming and prone to errors. CRM platforms, on the other hand, typically offer automated data entry, which can save time and reduce errors.
- Collaboration: Spreadsheets can be difficult to share and collaborate on with multiple team members. A CRM platform, on the other hand, allows multiple team members to access and update the sales pipeline in real-time, making it easier to collaborate and share information.
- Automation and Integration: CRM platforms often offer advanced features like lead scoring, marketing automation, email and call tracking, automated stages changes and the ability to integrate with other software, like email marketing or social media platforms. Spreadsheets, on the other hand, typically don't have these capabilities.
- Reporting and Analytics: CRM platforms often have built-in analytics and reporting capabilities, allowing you to easily view your sales pipeline data and track key performance indicators. With spreadsheets, this would have to be done manually, or with additional software, which can take more time and effort.
Both Spreadsheets and CRM platforms can be useful for tracking leads through a sales pipeline, but CRM platforms generally offer more robust features and capabilities that can make it easier to track leads and deals, automate data entry and analysis, and collaborate with team members.
Best Practices to Have a Winning Sales Pipeline Templates to Streamline Your Sales Strategy
If you are looking for the best practices to create your own sales pipeline templates, or excel templates, we've done the legwork for you. We've rounded up seven best sales pipeline practices, so all you need to do is, fixate on one based on your needs and requirements that will work the best for your business.
An effective sales pipeline template can transform the way your reps deal with leads and help them focus on more constructive goals and move the revenue needle.
- Define the stages of your sales: Clearly define the different stages of your sales process, such as lead generation, qualification, proposal, and close.
- Identify key metrics: Determine the key metrics you will use to measure the performance of your sales pipeline, such as conversion rates and average deal size.
- Use a CRM system: Utilize a customer relationship management (CRM) system to track and manage all aspects of your sales pipeline.
- Establish a process for lead generation: Develop a process for generating leads, including methods for identifying and targeting potential customers.
- Regularly review and adjust: Regularly review and adjust your sales pipeline template to ensure it is effective and efficient.
- Use data and analytics: Use data and analytics to gain insights into your sales pipeline, such as where most deals are falling out and how to improve conversion rates.
- Communicate and collaborate: Communicate and collaborate with your sales team to ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards common goals.
- Train your team: Train your sales team on the sales pipeline template, so they understand how to use it and how it fits into the overall sales process.
#1 Define your Sales Pipeline Stages
The first best practice for building a winning sales pipeline template is to clearly define the different stages of your sales process. A sales pipeline is a visual representation of a lead's different stages before becoming a customer. By defining the stages of the sales process, you can better understand where leads are in the pipeline, what needs to be done to move them to the next stage, and how to prioritize your time and resources.
Typically, a sales pipeline will have several stages, such as:
- Lead generation: This is the stage where you are identifying and targeting potential customers.
- Qualification: This is the stage where you determine if a lead is a good fit for your product or service.
- Proposal: This is the stage where you present a formal proposal to the lead.
- Close: This is the stage where the lead becomes a customer and the sale is made.
#2 Identify Key Metrics
The second best practice for building a winning sales pipeline template is to identify key metrics. Metrics are measurements that help you understand the performance of your sales pipeline and identify areas for improvement. By tracking key metrics, you can gain insight into how well your pipeline is functioning, and make data-driven decisions to improve it.
Some key metrics that are commonly used to measure the performance of a sales pipeline include:
- Conversion rates: The percentage of leads that convert to customers.
- Average deal size: The average value of a sale.
- Lead-to-customer ratio: The number of leads it takes to generate a customer.
- Time to close: The amount of time it takes to close a sale.
- Win rate: The percentage of deals that are won.
- Lead velocity: The rate at which leads are moving through the pipeline.
- Sales funnel: Analyzing the stages of the pipeline where most deals fall out.
#3 Use a CRM System
The third best practice for building a winning sales pipeline template is to use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. A CRM is a software tool that helps businesses manage and track all aspects of customer interactions, including leads, sales, and customer service. By using a CRM system, you can automate and streamline many of the processes involved in managing a sales pipeline, such as lead generation, qualification, and proposal.
Some of the key benefits of using a CRM system include:
- Centralized data management: A CRM system allows you to store all of your customer data in one place, making it easy to access and analyze. This can help you to better understand your customers and make data-driven decisions.
- Automation: Many CRM systems include automation features that can help you to automate repetitive tasks, such as sending follow-up emails or generating proposals.
- Collaboration: CRM systems often include collaboration features that allow multiple team members to access and update customer data, which can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards common goals.
- Reporting and analytics: Many CRM systems include reporting and analytics features that can help you to gain insight into your sales pipeline and identify areas for improvement.
- Mobile access: With mobile access, sales reps can access customer data and update information on the go, which can help to improve their productivity and effectiveness.
It's important to note that CRM systems can vary widely in terms of features and capabilities, so it's important to research different options and select one that meets the specific needs of your business. Additionally, it is important to train your sales team on how to use the CRM system, so they can take full advantage of its capabilities and ensure that the data entered is accurate and consistent.
By tracking these metrics, you can better understand how your sales pipeline is performing and where there may be room for improvement. For example, if your conversion rate is low, you may need to improve your lead generation and qualification processes. If your average deal size is small, you may need to focus on upselling and cross-selling to existing customers.
It's also important to note that different companies will have different key metrics depending on their business model, product, and industry. However, it is crucial to track and analyze metrics that are important and relevant to your business and use them to make data-driven decisions.
It's important to note that different companies will have different stages in their sales pipeline. But whatever the stages of your pipeline are, it's crucial to clearly define them, so your sales team knows what to expect and how to proceed. Once you have defined the stages of your sales process, you can begin to create a visual representation of your pipeline, such as a flowchart or a spreadsheet. This will help you to better understand where leads are in the pipeline and what needs to be done to move them to the next stage.
#4 Establish a Process for Lead Generation
The fourth best practice for building a winning sales pipeline template is to establish a process for lead generation. Lead generation is the process of identifying and targeting potential customers who are interested in your product or service. It is an essential part of the sales pipeline, as without leads, there can be no sales. By developing a process for generating leads, you can ensure a steady flow of potential customers into your pipeline and increase your chances of making a sale.
Some key elements of a lead generation process include:
- Identifying your target audience: Understand your ideal customer and create buyer personas. This will help you to identify the best channels for reaching and engaging with potential customers.
- Utilizing different channels: Use a variety of channels to generate leads, such as social media, email marketing, content marketing, and search engine optimization.
- Tracking and analyzing leads: Use a CRM system to track and analyze leads to understand where they are coming from and what channels are most effective.
- Follow-up and nurturing: Once a lead is generated, it is important to follow-up with them and nurture the relationship. This can be done through email marketing campaigns, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings.
- Lead scoring: Assign scores to leads based on their level of engagement and interest, which will help to prioritize follow-up efforts and increase conversion rates.
- Lead magnets: Offer something of value to leads in exchange for their contact information, such as ebooks, webinars, or free trials.
Lead generation is a continuous process, and it's important to regularly review and adjust your lead generation strategy to ensure it is effective and efficient. By establishing a process for lead generation and continually refining it, you can ensure a steady flow of leads into your pipeline and increase your chances of making a sale.
#5 Regular Review and Adjust
A sales pipeline is not a static document, but rather an ongoing process that needs to be continuously reviewed and adjusted to ensure it is effective and efficient. By regularly reviewing and adjusting your sales pipeline, you can identify and address any issues that may be preventing you from achieving your sales goals.
Some key elements of regularly reviewing and adjusting your sales pipeline include:
- Analyzing pipeline data: Use data and analytics to gain insights into your sales pipeline, such as where most deals are falling out, and how to improve conversion rates.
- Identifying bottlenecks: Identify bottlenecks in your pipeline, such as stages where leads are getting stuck or falling out.
- Prioritizing leads: Prioritize leads based on their likelihood of converting to a sale.
- Optimizing stages: Optimize each stage of the pipeline to ensure that leads are moving through efficiently and effectively.
- Training and coaching: Provide training and coaching to your sales team to help them improve their skills and effectiveness.
- Continuously improve: Continuously improve your pipeline by testing new strategies, tactics and processes, and incorporating what works and discarding what doesn't.
It's important to note that the sales pipeline is a living document and it needs to be updated and tweaked as the market, your product or services, and your target audience change. By regularly reviewing and adjusting your sales pipeline, you can identify and address any issues that may be preventing you from achieving your sales goals, and continuously improve it to meet the changing needs of your business.
#6 Use Data and Analytics
The sixth best practice for building a winning sales pipeline template is to use data and analytics to gain insights into your sales pipeline. By using data and analytics, you can gain a deeper understanding of your sales pipeline and identify areas for improvement. With the right data and analytics, you can make data-driven decisions that can help you to increase conversion rates, improve lead generation, and optimize each stage of the pipeline.
Some key elements of using data and analytics to gain insights into your sales pipeline include:
- Tracking key metrics: Track key metrics such as conversion rates, average deal size, lead-to-customer ratio, time to close, win rate, and lead velocity.
- Identifying patterns and trends: Use data visualization tools to identify patterns and trends in your sales pipeline, such as where most deals are falling out or which stages have the highest conversion rates.
- Analyzing lead sources: Analyze where leads are coming from and what channels are most effective at generating leads.
- Monitoring pipeline progress: Monitor the progress of leads through the pipeline and identify where they are getting stuck or falling out.
- Identifying opportunities for improvement: Use data and analytics to identify opportunities for improvement, such as increasing lead generation or improving conversion rates.
- A/B testing: Use A/B testing to test different strategies and tactics, and determine which ones are most effective.
It's important to note that data and analytics should be used in conjunction with other best practices such as regularly reviewing and adjusting the pipeline, training, and coaching, and using a CRM system. By using data and analytics to gain insights into your sales pipeline, you can make data-driven decisions that can help you to increase conversion rates, improve lead generation, and optimize each stage of the pipeline.
#7 Communicate and Collaborate
The seventh best practice for building a winning sales pipeline template is to communicate and collaborate with your sales team. Sales pipelines are not just a tool for management, but it's also a tool for the sales team to understand the status of their deals and how their actions are impacting the pipeline. By communicating and collaborating with your sales team, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards common goals.
Some key elements of communicating and collaborating with your sales team include:
- Setting clear goals and expectations: Communicate the goals and expectations for the sales pipeline to the sales team, so they understand what they need to do to achieve them.
- Providing regular updates: Provide regular updates on the status of the sales pipeline, such as conversion rates, lead-to-customer ratio, and time to close.
- Encouraging participation: Encourage sales team members to participate in the management of the sales pipeline, such as inputting data, updating customer information, and analyzing pipeline data.
- Sharing best practices: Share best practices and strategies for lead generation, qualification, and closing deals with the sales team.
- Offering feedback: Offer feedback on the sales team's performance, and provide guidance on how they can improve their skills and effectiveness.
- Holding regular meetings: Hold regular meetings with the sales team to discuss the pipeline, share information, and collaborate on strategies and tactics.
By communicating and collaborating with your sales team, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page, working towards common goals, and using the pipeline to its full potential. Additionally, having a collaborative environment can help the sales team to feel more ownership towards the pipeline, and be motivated to achieve the set goals.
#8 Train your Team
The eighth best practice for building a winning sales pipeline template is to train your sales team. A sales pipeline is only as effective as the people who are using it, and by training your sales team on the pipeline, you can ensure that they understand how to use it and how it fits into the overall sales process. By providing proper training, you can empower the sales team to use the pipeline effectively and efficiently, which can help to increase conversion rates, improve lead generation, and optimize each stage of the pipeline.
Some key elements of training your sales team include:
- Providing an overview of the pipeline: Provide an overview of the pipeline and its stages to the sales team, so they understand how it works and how it fits into the overall sales process.
- Demonstrating how to use the pipeline: Demonstrate how to use the pipeline, including how to input data, update customer information, and analyze pipeline data.
- Teaching best practices: Teach best practices for lead generation, qualification, and closing deals, so the sales team knows how to effectively move leads through the pipeline.
- Providing ongoing support: Provide ongoing support to the sales team, such as answering questions, providing guidance, and offering feedback on their performance.
- Encouraging participation: Encourage the sales team to participate in the management of the pipeline, such as inputting data, updating customer information, and analyzing pipeline data.
- Holding regular training sessions: Hold regular training sessions to update the team on new strategies, tactics, and processes.
By training your sales team on the sales pipeline template, you can ensure that they understand how to use it and how it fits into the overall sales process. This can help them to effectively move leads through the pipeline, increase conversion rates, improve lead generation, and optimize each stage of the pipeline. Additionally, having a well-trained team can help to reduce errors, increase consistency and bring more ownership to the pipeline process.
These sales pipeline templates are an ideal solution for businesses of all sizes, ranging from small to medium-sized, and even enterprises. They are simple to set up and use, promote online collaboration with teammates, and help organize the early stages of your pipeline.
However, while using a spreadsheet sales pipeline is effective in the beginning, it is important to note that it has a significant drawback. These templates are not built to accommodate the growth and expansion of your business in the long term.
This means that as your business grows, it will eventually outgrow the spreadsheet template you are currently using.
Even better than using a sales pipeline template is, using Salesken. Book a demo with one of our experts now.